Societal Influence on Nineteenth Century Marriages in Pride and Prejudice

1430 Words Aug 30th, 2012 6 Pages
English 283
1 March 2012
Societal Influence on Nineteenth Century Marriages in Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a nineteenth century novel revolving around the life and romantic affairs of the Bennett sisters and their family in the English countryside. Seen as a lady-like romance novel, Pride and Prejudice seems like a light read, but in reality Jane Austen uses her novel to make scathing commentary about nineteenth century society in England. Pride and Prejudice contrast the marriages of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas to show how nineteenth century English society’s view of a perfect marriage was often based solely on class, and often disregarded any connection a pair
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The anxiety about what is socially acceptable can already be seen trumping the depth and truth of real emotions in Mr. Darcy’s character. He spoke of matters of the heart, but there were other things of equal or even more importance on his mind. Matters of her status in life and how a connection with him would ruin his public image and mar the value of his name in society. This anxiety continues throughout the novel and can be seen coming to a head with the visit of Lady Catherine to Longbourne. Lady Catherine, along with insulting every aspect of Elizabeth’s life, addresses the rumor she has heard about Mr. Darcy’s plans to marry Elizabeth. She confronts Elizabeth saying, “You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that a connection with you, must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?” (Austen 338). This passage perfectly illustrates the way that nineteenth century society views the match. Simply by forming a connection with a women from a status that is seen as inferior to Mr. Darcy’s, Mr. Darcy loses all honor and credit in the eyes of society and will forever be considered a

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