Societal Influence on Nineteenth Century Marriages in Pride and Prejudice

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English 283
1 March 2012
Societal Influence on Nineteenth Century Marriages in Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a nineteenth century novel revolving around the life and romantic affairs of the Bennett sisters and their family in the English countryside. Seen as a lady-like romance novel, Pride and Prejudice seems like a light read, but in reality Jane Austen uses her novel to make scathing commentary about nineteenth century society in England. Pride and Prejudice contrast the marriages of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas to show how nineteenth century English society’s view of a perfect marriage was often based solely on class, and often disregarded any connection a pair may have on an emotional level. This disregard shows the rigidness of class structure in that time period, and the importance of keeping the upper class exclusive.

The main focus of Pride and Prejudice is the unfolding of the relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship is built on mutual understanding and respect. One of the more recognizable excerpts from Pride and Prejudice shows the true and mature feelings that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy hold for one another. “Elizabeth, still more affected, was earnest and solemn in her reply; and at length, by repeated assurances that Mr. Darcy was really the object of her choice, by explaining the gradual change which her estimation of him had undergone, relating her absolute certainty that his affection was not the work of a day, but had stood the test of any months suspense, and enumerating with energy all his good qualities, she did conquer her father’s incredulity, and reconcile him to the match” (Austen 356). In this passage Elizabeth’s feelings for Darcy are apparent and the maturity, duration and strength of their love can be felt.

The problems that Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy face throughout the novel stem not from...
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