The Theme of Women and Marriage in "Pride and Prejudice"
Pride and prejudice* is one of the most famous novels in the last of the nineteenth century and the beginning of twentieth century, written by the greatest female novelist Jane Austen. The novel is about the marriage and the financial estate of women in that time.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in a possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (Chapter 1).The novel starts with this sentence as an ironic sentence toward the society, because not single men who looking for women to get merry but the poor women looking for rich men to get merry. This extract explains how much women were searching to marry for financial secure marriage and a finical element is important for women.
Several marriages take place in Pride and Prejudice. These marriages are Mr.Collins and Charlotte, Lydia and Wickham, Jane and Bingle, Elizabeth and Darcy and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Each couple marries for a different reason. Some of these marriages are happy and compatible and some are not.
When Collins proposes to Elizabeth, we are introduced to the economic factors
and "the financial elements" as a motive to get married. Collins's reasons to get married at first, he thinks that the clergyman must to get married .Second, the economic motive which is to inherit her father estate" to inherit this estate"(Chapter 19), after the death of your honored father. Indeed his reasons weren't based on love but on financial which is wrong and irrelevant. He leaves out all mutual affections and personal compatibility which are the main reasons to get married for Elizabeth. As a result, he refused by her.
In contrast, he was accepted by Charlotte when he proposes to her, and their marriage depends on a finical basis. Charroltte, her searching for marriage was clear from the beginning, "If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him" (Chapter 6, P. 3- 4,). She declares that she is not" romantic and never was"(Chapter 22, P.20) and "what I want is I ask only for comfortable home" (Chapter 22, P.21). She also, convinced that happiness in marriage is a matter of chance "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance" (Chapter 28, P13). But she must also wisely be deaf the foolish of her husband"(Chapter 28, P.117-118). Thus their marriage isn't based on love. So, their marriage turns to be a great Failure.
Moreover, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's marriage is greatly failed. They have been married for twenty years. And their marriage was based on her appearance only. And that what makes their marriage failure .After the marriage Mr. Bennet discover that his wife is not intelligence women. Thus he finds refugee in his library and isolates himself from his family. Also, the lack of attention of Mrs. Bennet's to her family has discovered by her in the end of the novel and that what leads her family develop that way.
Likewise, the marriage between Lydia and Wikham is an example of a huge failure. It's based on appearances and youthful life. Which is a youthfully marriage and these qualities and love would fade away slowly. Consequently, she becomes a regular visitor to her old sister's home when "her husband was gone to enjoy himself in London or bath".
In contrast of Jane and Bingley's marriage considers as a happy and successful marriage. Because it based on romantic love and they attracted to each other through their appearances. Elizabeth comment on their marriage as a successful one. She says: ".. really believed all his [Bengley] expectations of felicity, to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super- excellent disposition of Jane and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her and himself." (Chapter 55).
The last on is Elizabeth and Darcy's marriage. Their marriage and love isn't based on appearances of each other. In the beginning of the novel they were distance from each other because of the prejudice. After series of events which they experienced together lead them to discover and understand each other. The mutual understanding is the base of their relationship. Thus, their marriage is a great successful happy and peaceful.
In conclusion, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice reveals the different motives to get married.