Social Class And Marriage In Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice Commentary

In Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, social class and marriage coincide together with limited social mobility. In that time of the Regency Period, it was common for young women to marry a man of higher status because of the land and money that came along with it. Women did not have as many rights as they do today so they did not have much of a choice in the matter. With this cultural and social context, she uses several couples in order to mock societal values of the XVIII and XIX centuries and to explore the essence of the perfect marriage. She believed that marriage was for love, not for financial and/or social gain. Readers are able to see the different situations of marriage and social ranking,
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Lydia’s reputation is ruined by eloping with Mr. Wickham, as shown in Chapter 50: “How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue.” (pg. 330) This example is saying that they won’t be supported financially because they are shamed by eloping. Through this couple, Austen shows that a hurried marriage based on imaginary love and shallow qualities, do not last and lead to unhappiness. These two characters help to mock the perfections of marriage by showing a contrast to the couples Jane and Bingley and Elizabeth and …show more content…
The marriage between Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins is a comical and even devastating relationship. Since he had “loved” Jane and Elizabeth a week before, he could not possibly be in love. However Charlotte, being the silly girl she is, marries Mr. Collins in order to be financially stable and socially secure. She is under the pressure of her mother and the social class and she sees Mr. Collins as her only option. Charlotte says in Chapter 22, "I see what you are feeling, you must be surprised, very much surprised, so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am no romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and, considering Mr.Collin 's character, connections, 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." (pg. 141) Nevertheless, she soon realizes that he is an insufferable man, and often finds herself ashamed to be married to him. However, Charlotte continue accepting this despicable man because he is the only alternative to poverty and social isolation. She yields to society and she accepts the loneliness of her marriage with Collins because to her it seems better than the other option. Austen shows us with this new example again, the consequences of getting

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