Lady Catherine De Burgh Pride And Prejudice Analysis

715 Words 3 Pages
Claudia Johnson has argued that, Mrs Bennet may appear foolish and vulgar however, she understands the economic importance of marriage. Patriarchy governed in English law of inheritance, Mr Bennet’s Longbourne estate is left to the next male ancestor in line, the nephew Mr Collins. Consequently the law of entail, enforced the prohibition of the landed property from being broken up or descending to the female line. However, it was not unheard of for a female heiress, as demonstrated by the character Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
In the case of Mrs Bennet, she would be entitled to a jointure, a salary that was decided upon in her original marriage settlement. The Bennet children however would be the responsibility of the estate; which would undoubtedly
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Austen was uneasy about this ‘systemic male priority’ (Tuite, p. 116) and reflects her thoughts and beliefs through the narrative voice of the arrogant caricature Lady Catherine, ‘I see no occasion for entailing estates from the female line’ (p. 198) thereby intertextually addressing this issue, through the ironic construction of a representative of the aristocracy society.
In addition, marriage between cousins was considered a convenient way of keeping property within the family. Austen cleverly subverts society’s tradition by empowering Elizabeth Bennet, in her rejection of her cousin, Mr Collins’marriage proposal, leaving her inheritance unsecured. Moreover, Elizabeth as a paradigm is disinherited of her father’s estate, and with no financial independence, arguably demonstrates intellectual and moral independence through refusing to marry without love, for economic gain.
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’
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Presented through the minor character of Charlotte Lucas; a plain, twenty-seven year old, victim of society. Since women were contingent on men, it was important for women to secure a husband to avoid the perils of spinsterhood. Charlotte would have struggled as a spinster to survive with little or no income and similar to the financial situation of Elizabeth, disinherited of her father’s property. Consequently becoming dependent on her family for the remainder of her life. Charlotte Lucas is the antithesis of Elizabeth Bennet; she feared that she would not receive another advantageous offer of marriage. Evidently ‘fixing’ herself a suitor, Charlotte accepts the proposal of the absurd clergyman Mr Collins; as an alternative to a life as a

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