Satire In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen

Superior Essays
In Regency England, women were reduced to the status of mere commodities in the marriage market. Women were in the very unfortunate position of being unable to earn income, so the only way they could ‘succeed’ in life was to marry well so they would no longer be a burden on their families. This system places women in an inherently disadvantaged position in life and this is the society that Jane Austen writes of in her books. She is quite critical in her discussions of marriage and social structure and she uses satire very effectively to point out problems with the institution of marriage. In Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen thoroughly explores the particularly repressive nature of the highly stratified social structure in conjunction with the …show more content…
She has a keen intellect and a strong independent mind. One would think that despite her independence, she might still bow to social norms especially given the financial straights that await her and her sisters upon their father’s death. Elizabeth’s father’s fortune is entailed to their cousin, Mr. Collins, because he is the closest male relative. Despite this situation, Elizabeth is unwilling to take part in the husband-hunting games that her mother seems intent on playing. Her focus is to find a husband that she genuinely loves and his fortune (or lack their of) is immaterial. This viewpoint is apparent in Elizabeth’s interactions with Mr. Collins. He proposes to her and in doing so her fails to consider that Elizabeth is not marrying for pragmatic reasons. Despite the fact that marrying Mr. Collins would safeguard her father’s fortune and to some extent protect her sisters and mother from financial destitution, she must marry for love, and she does not love Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins motives for marriage are very interesting and indicative of the state of marriage in Austen’s time. Marriage is simply an economic decision: a way for women to advance in society. By having the heroine eschew these ideals Austen is making the important point that the system of marriage at that time was severely flawed. Elizabeth (and clearly Austen) prioritizes happiness and love over any sort of economic …show more content…
In Austen’s mind, the focus marriage should be about love and happiness and not about making the best financial ‘connection’. Class and wealth go hand in hand, and by eschewing the value of finances in marriage she is also saying that class standing is not important, so long as the two people are of equal intellect and complement each other well. Pride and Prejudice shows that Austen was a forward thinking early feminist who viewed women as equal to men in regards to intellect and morality. As such, it seems only logical that marriage should be based off of these traits and virtues and not on economic

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    However, since Lydia is a married woman now, she undoubtedly is considered a person of higher rank. Additionally, women would often disregard their husband’s flaws in order to preserve their marriage because unmarried women do not have a future. At one point, Elizabeth acknowledges Charlotte’s firm resolution to secure her union with Mr. Collins. When Mr. Collins expressed indecent remarks, “Charlotte wisely did not hear.” (154). Hence, Charlotte puts up with her husband’s disgraceful comments in order to preserve her marriage with Mr. Collins because divorcing would degrade her current social status.…

    • 1005 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    She also believes that she does not want to know a lot of the man as it could ruin a couple’s relationship. Charlotte states that she hopes that Elizabeth “will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state…

    • 1298 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    All of those instances are antifeminist. Two significant instances, the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth, do not promote independent economic security, but rather the need to accept dependence upon a man. Even Elizabeth’s singular idea of marrying for love carries within it an association of love with economic security a man provides. Marriage is portrayed as the most fundamental ambition in a woman’s life, because it is also a means of acquiring economic stability, not autonomy or independence. Charlotte Lucas explains her perception of marriage to Elizabeth after accepting Mr. Collins’s proposal when she says, “I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins 's character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state" (123).…

    • 1796 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Superior Essays

    As long as there is money involve, that is what all that matters at that time. People marry for the sake of protection and beneficence, but not for the sake of love itself. Like Charlotte, she marries Mr. Collins because she believes that her quality of life will enhance as Mr. Collins is able to support her needs. And this is exactly what Jane Austen depicts the society in the past; there wasn’t really a choice in life. It’s either you marry and live a better life or wait for love and struggle with debt.…

    • 1756 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This was an unusual practice as marriage was foremost an economic institution. Austen was aware of the social and economic challenges for young women in a patriarchal society, restricted and disempowered. Austen states in a letter dated March 1813, that ‘single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony’…

    • 715 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Rank provides a tricky obstacle for Elizabeth, even though she can do little to prove herself when her rank has already been settled upon. wholeheartedly believes in entitlement; specifically, she believes that Elizabeth was not entitled to marry her nephew. Lady Catherine’s daughter was supposed to be betrothed to Darcy because their rank was equal: “Their fortune on both sides is splendid. They are destined for each other...and what is to divide them? A young woman without family, connections, or fortune” (Austen 432).…

    • 1406 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Charlotte clearly prefers time away from her husband; she shows no signs of excessive attachment to him. Although, Mr. Collins and Charlotte merely coexist without showing much affection or romanticism towards one another, the pair creates an atmosphere which is not only tolerable, but advantageous for both of them. On one hand, Mr.Collins meets Lady Catherine’s expectations of having a woman of the house, and on the other hand Charlotte is made a respectable woman. Before marrying Mr. Collins, Charlotte was at risk of becoming an old maid and thus having a meaningless life in the eyes of society. The correlation between a meaningful, respectable life and marriage stems from marriage being viewed as the only acceptable option for a lady at this time.…

    • 1176 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    She values social statuses, and believes that her nephew must marry someone of equal fortune and honour as him. “Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never be mentioned by any of us.” (Chapter 56 Page 336) She also values what others in the community think, and she believes that your friends and family should have a say in who you marry. “”Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends? To his tacit engagement to Miss De Bourgh?” (Chapter 56 Page 336) She also has a clear image of who her nephews wife should be, and how she should act, and she is very shocked by his choice in Elizabeth as a wife. “Miss Bennet, I am shocked and astonished.…

    • 819 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Elizabeth Bennet Marriage

    • 1460 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Elizabeth is considered as a representative of the new woman who can decide her own fate. She has her own judgments and attitudes on marriage that is not influenced by others. She bases her marriage on mutual respect and love, thus she rejects Mr. Collins and Darcy’s proposals even though she knows both of them can promise her a comfortable life with infinite wealth and higher social status. The reason that Elizabeth agrees to marry Darcy because she is in love with Darcy and they worked through obstacles. Elizabeth does not regard marriage to a rich husband as the main goal of life like majority women in that time period, but she is longing for true love.…

    • 1460 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Traditional society stigmatizes indulgence in clothing as a form of self-expression. Catherine is censored by her father to conform to the “classic grace” paradigm that is expected of her as a woman. Moreover, Dr. Sloper is afraid that these bourgeois ideas will denigrate his family’s name, thus he resists a change. Therefore, Dr. Sloper continues to run his household in a traditional, patriarchal manner, wherein he can control everything as a means of order. Catherine is attracted to her father’s rule, despite their differences, because she seeks safety and security from tradition.…

    • 1126 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays