Many of the characters in Pride and Prejudice feel that you must marry into wealth in order to be happy. Readers of this novel often look at the book as a romance, but do the characters actually marry for true love? The novel centers on the diverse ways adore may develop or vanish, and whether or not society has room for sentimental adore and marriage to go together. The author, Jane Austen, targets marriage by making individual characters fit for each other, however, the girls deal with their own feelings and the status of their families. In the novel, Jane Austen targets marriage for social status but also demonstrates that love breaks through both social and financial differences.
During this time it was expected of a woman to marry a man of wealth and good looks. Rebekah Hall, a Professor at Georgia Gwinnett College, who wrote about the purpose of marriage in Pride and Prejudice said“The monetary and social stability that the marriage offers women is more important than the compatibility of the spouses.”(Hall). This quote shows Austen’s viewpoint of marriage used in her novel. Overall, this quote shows the vocational nature of marriage and social stability. Mrs. Bennet expects her girls to marry the finest and wealthiest guys, as she looks at relationships based on society. Towards the beginning of the book, she proves this by saying, “A single man of large fortune”(Austen 1). This goes to show that Austen has her characters look not at the personalities, but at the wealth they have. As well as that, it shows how she targets society’s view on marriage. Pride and Prejudice will help people see the women’s viewpoints on marriage and the reason for relationships during this time period. Jane Austen targets society by showing the expectation of women during this time.
Although the Bennet sisters were expected to marry men of wealth, some of them overlooked what society was expecting and married for love. “A woman’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment” (Austen 18). In the beginning, Elizabeth knew Darcy was wealthy but overlooked what society was expecting of her. It was later on when she realized she fell in love. Furthermore, Elizabeth denied dancing with Mr. Darcy at first but then eventually accepted, “I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such a compliment” (Austen 9). During the dancing, it shows what was expected by society and who should dance with who, however, Elizabeth ignored what was expected of her and did what she thought was best. This quote shows that although society was expecting Elizabeth to dance with Darcy because of his income she turned him down and eventually noticed his personality. According to Jane Austen, society expected women to marry for more than love, however Elizabeth and Jane prove the society wrong and marry for true happiness.
The social position of the characters in Pride and Prejudice is different, however, some believe that it doesn’t matter. Elizabeth and Darcy put the differences of the families to the side and focus on true love, including Jane and Bingley. In an article by Christopher Gille, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License, Gillie says “In Jane Austen’s mind, mutual attraction is the most important concept in a marriage. One who betrays his or her heart will never own true love. True love is much more cherished than money and social position”(Gillie). This quote helps people understand that Austen views love and marriage as happiness more than just money. To show this, she has Elizabeth’s view on marriage be the same perspective as hers. The relationships that developed throughout the novel proves that social status doesn’t matter. In the book when Darcy says, “I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty women bestow” (Austen 17). Mr. Darcy is focusing on her features rather than her social status, which shows that he overlooked the social position of her family. Overall, love broke through and shows that the social status doesn’t matter in a relationship if it’s true love.
Despite that Elizabeth and Jane looks for happiness, there were still many characters who looked at the social status and base that on their relationships. One of those characters being Lydia Bennet, a fearless young teenager who runs off with Mr. Wicham. Her reason for running off was his money, “all astonishment that Wickham should marry a girl whom it was impossible he could marry for money; and how Lydia could ever have attached him, had appeared incomprehensible. But now it was all too natural. For such an attachment as this she might have sufficient charms; and though she did not suppose Lydia to be deliberately engaging in an elopement, without the intention of marriage, she had no difficulty in believing that neither her virtue nor her understanding would preserve her from falling an easy prey”(Austen 187). This quote shows that in this time, social status plays a major role in affecting relationships and interactions with other members of society. Another example showing that social status matter is Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine, they both believe that they are superior because of their money and social privilege and they are also vain because they are obsessed with maintaining this image. Wickham described Lady Catherine and said, “She has the reputation of being remarkably sensible and clever; but I rather believe she derives part of her abilities from her rank and fortune, part from her authoritative manner, and the rest from the pride of her nephew, who chooses that everyone connected with him should have an understanding of the first class” (Austen 57). He was pretty much saying a person’s value depended on their possession of a fortune. This affects how characters in the novel socialized with one another, and how the social statuses of these characters affects their relationships with those of the lower class, even with love involved. In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the significance of social status is appeared through the lives of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine, and Lydia Bennet.
True love was able to break through how society looks at what was expected in a relationship. Karen Prior, a professor of English at Liberty University who teaches Pride and Prejudice as a romance said, “The ideal for her is represented by Elizabeth, who refuses to trade her independence for financial comfort and in the end marries for love”(Prior). This shows that Austen has Elizabeth’s character believe you must have true happiness in order to marry. She ignored the fact that Mr. Darcy was wealthy and looked at the love she was developing. In Pride and Prejudice, it shows that Elizabeth married for love and disregarded social status. In a biography by Renee Warren, she believed Austen focused on the true love between the characters. Warren said, “This revelation is a shining insight into the mind of Ms. Austen, seemingly taken out of the very pages of one of her novels, where her heroines did not marry for money or power, but for love”(Warren). This quote helps people with understanding how Pride and Prejudice is looked at as a romance from Jane Austen’s personal life and shows that love plays a huge role between the characters. Austen portrayed her idea of a romance with characters falling for wealthy men, but looks at the personalities more than the money. The love that developed between Elizabeth and Darcy was able to break through society and social differences.
Jane Austen portrays Jane and Elizabeth Bennet as strong-headed independent characters, however other roles look at marriage as more than love. One character who stood out was Charlotte, she married for more than love. She said, “I am not romantic you know? I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is fair”(Austen 87). Additionally, it shows that Charlotte felt forced to marry Collins because she wanted to be in a comfortable relationship. She believed she was never going to have a better option and another proposal. Another character who stood out as marrying for more than love was Mr. Collins, ‘My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances like myself to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness”(Austen 73). His reasons for marrying say nothing about having happiness in true love. He ignored the fact about marrying for love and went to multiple girls asking to marry them. This shows that he wasn’t looking for love, he was looking for any woman willing to marry him.
Although Elizabeth and Jane married for love, Jane Austen also targets marriage by social class and what was expected by society. Pride and Prejudice centers on the distinctive ways love may develop or vanish, and whether or not society has room for sentimental adore and marriage to go together. However, true love found a way to break through social and financial differences. In the novel, Elizabeth and Jane go against the way society looks at women and marry for true happiness. Ultimately, the novel may be a solid suggestion of cherish as a premise for marriage.