Pride and Prejudice
From the beginning lines of Pride and Prejudice, marriage is expressed as a central theme of the novel. Austen even makes the bold statement that “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune, must be in want of a wife” (1). Throughout the novel, the question arises whether marriage is meant for love or for wealth and social status. Although Austen presents both sides of this argument in the text, marrying for love is favored.
This novel, being written in the eighteenth century, still provides many current, controversial themes. What is marriage about? Why should it be pursued? Mrs. Bennet seems to think that fortune precedes love when it comes to marriage. When first speaking of Mr. Bingley, Mrs. Bennet shares her excitement by saying “a single man of large fortune;…what a fine thing for our girls!” (1). She finds it convenient for her daughters that the single Mr. Bingley has moved near to Longbourn. All she truly wants is to have her daughters married to respectable, wealthy men. Love, she feels, would be a lucky bonus. Because of this, the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet seems to be questionable as well. Since marrying her daughters to wealthy men is of such importance, it is derived that she probably feels the same way towards her own marriage. In conversation with Mr. Bennet, they disagree more times than not. While Mrs. Bennet threatens to “never see her again” (82), if Lizzy does not accept the proposal by Mr. Collins, her husband replies headstrong saying “from this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents” (82). They never talk about their disagreements like a loving couple should. Austen also portrays marriage for fortune in other characters. These characters, however, seem to be the humor in the novel, displaying Austen’s nonsensical feeling towards this motive of marriage. Lady Catherine de Bourgh believes it completely...
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