In Pride and Prejudice, love is not a necessary component of marriage. In fact, most of the marriages we see are not based on love, but instead either on lust that quickly fades or on economic necessity. In this novel, romantic love is a privilege that most people have to do without and something that most people do not expect to find. At the same time, because love is a union between empathetic minds, it is shown to be a completely special emotion that is available only for intelligent, mature adults – it's the crowning achievement in the building of character. Marriage:
Pride and Prejudice questions the extremely high value that Austen's society placed on marriage as the only possible economic security for women who are not independently wealthy. By showing us the miserable marriage of the Bennets, and by grossing us out with the mercenary marriages of Charlotte and Lydia, the novel questions a system which places so much importance on this institution that it seems to endanger individual morality and happiness. On the other hand, with the marriages of Jane and Elizabeth front and center, the novel does allow room for good partnership as well. Society and class:
Pride and Prejudice upholds reasonably conservative views on class. Darcy's character arc is to become the ultimate gentleman – he starts out wealthy, aristocratic, and good-hearted, and learns to add good manners and sociability to the mix. Conversely, although Wickham seems to have the outer polish of an aristocrat, he is proven to be thoroughly ungentlemanly. (And believe it or not, that's one of the more serious insults characters lob at each other in the novel.) It is the same with the female characters, whose behavior and decorum immediately marks them as either upper or lower class. Although both Jane and Elizabeth cross class lines to get married, the general idea is that they are almost aristocratic already. Pride :
Pride is a constant presence in the characters' attitudes and...
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