How Does Austen Present Marriage Within Pride and Predjudice Essay

1024 Words Dec 19th, 2012 5 Pages
How does Austen present marriage in Pride and Prejudice?
Throughout ’Pride and Prejudice’ Jane Austen conveys the theme of marriage of being of paramount importance. The first line of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ defines the main themes of Austen’s’ novel, as well as subtly giving the reader an insight of Austen’s views of marriage. Her use of hyperbole ‘That a man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife’ hints at a somewhat mocking and ironic tone on Austen’s part, which indicates to the reader that Austen doesn’t agree with the general perception of marriage during her time.
The three main marriages that are presented within the novel each denote a different type of marriages that were commonly found in the 18th century.
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Within the main theme of marriage, another underlying theme is the concept of reputation, with reference to the social conventions of the time. Austen presents this concept through the characters of Lydia and Mr Wickham. Though Mr Bennet is not at all happy with Lydia marrying Wickham, he is forced to allow it- ‘yes, yes, they must marry, there is nothing else to be done’- as the reputation of his entire family would have been tarnished, potentially ruining the chances of a ‘good’ marriage for all his other daughters.
Another central theme that is presented through the characters of Lydia and Wickham is the idea of marrying for wealth. Through the observations of Elizabeth, we as readers are aware that Lydia is infatuated by Wickham, but Wickham doesn’t feel the same way towards Lydia. ‘Wickham's affection for Lydia was just what Elizabeth had expected to find it; not equal to Lydia's for him’
Austen includes this marriage to question the social conventions of the time which saw marriage as an economic transaction. Had Darcy not paid Wickham to marry Lydia, he would not have married her. The marriage of Lydia and Wickham, so reminiscent of the marriage of Mr and Mrs Bennet, is a clear example of how many at that time married for wealth.
As well as marrying for wealth, many women found it necessary to marry for financial

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