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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen revolves around love and marriage in a materialistic society. The social set-up of the era described by Austen is such that marriage had a great importance so much so that unsuitable marriages took place just because of the social pressure. She also gives due importance to the physical setting described in the story. Discussion It has often been pointed out that Jane Austen’s novels deal only with the world of which she had firsthand knowledge.

They are set in the ballrooms, the drawing rooms, the bedrooms, and the gardens where, like the ladies in her books, she spent her life. One of the places discussed in the story is the Longbourn Estate which is the Home of the Bennet family in southeastern England’s Hertfordshire. The estate is “entailed,” meaning that it can be passed down only through male heirs. Austen uses the estate to point up the condition of single women in early nineteenth century England, demonstrating why they have an intense need to marry. (Austen, 211) The Longbourn estate is to pass to Mr.

Collins, a pretentious young clergyman who stands to inherit Mr. Bennet’s property. After the heroine Elizabeth Bennet turns down Collins’s proposal of marriage, her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, accepts his proposal because she is poor and needs to marry. Another example is the Netherfield Park which is the Estate rented by Mr. Bingley, the neighborhood’s new eligible bachelor, in which Austen sets up the novel’s action. The Bennets have five unmarried daughters, and their silly mother is anxious to see them all married.

Mr. Bingley soon falls for Jane, the oldest, and it is through him that Elizabeth meets the arrogant Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bingley’s best friend. (Austen, 215) The complex social activities taking place at Netherfield illuminate a society in which women scramble to find husbands amid financial snobbery and class prejudice. As Austen shows clearly in “Pride and Prejudice” how unsuitable marriages (which have taken place under social pressure) lead only to unhappiness and social instability.

After discovering that his wife is incapable of comprehending anything he says, Mr. Bennet has stopped trying to communicate with her. A man of his reserved and scholarly nature can adjust easily to isolation from his family, and Mrs. Bennet is too scatterbrained to suspect that something may be missing from her relationship with her husband. It is the Bennet children who suffer most from the ill-conceived marriage of their parents. Left to their mother, three of the five Bennet daughters turn out badly.

Mary Bennet is a pedant without intellectual gifts; Kitty Bennet, a flirtatious fool; and Lydia, a girl so unthinking that she runs off with the first plausible man who comes along, thereby disgracing her family and destroying the possibility of any other marriage or even, if she remains unmarried, her acceptance in respectable society. As Mr. Bennet admits, Lydia’s actions are in part the consequence of his paternal neglect, but that in turn is the result of his marrying unwisely, without regard for his future wife’s suitability in temperament, character, and intelligence.

(Austen, 235) Austen supports her argument that a bad marriage is worse than no marriage at all with two additional examples. Collins marries Charlotte only because, as a clergyman, he needs a respectable wife; she marries him because, at twenty-seven, she is becoming desperate. The result is not surprising. When Elizabeth goes to visit the newlyweds, she finds that Charlotte has developed a daily routine that places her as far away from her husband as possible. Thus, the author shows the unhappy consequences of unwise marriages.

Nevertheless, what Austen sees as essential for a happy union is not equality of either fortune or caste. Although they live comfortably, the Bennets do not have the wealth that both Bingley and Darcy possess, and while Mr. Bennet is a member of the gentry, he ranks well below the aristocracy. Jane and Bingley are both easy-going and tolerant people, however, while Elizabeth and Darcy share the same incisive intelligence and strength of will. (Austen, 314) What Austen seems to be saying is surprisingly modern that: the best basis for marriage is a love based on mutual respect and shown in an easy, comfortable companionship.

Conclusion Since Austen wrote no sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” which could settle the issue, however, most critics continue to believe that the novel ends happily. In a society dominated by males, she managed to bring to life a number of strong-willed female characters and to produce some of the finest literary works of her era.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. A Longman Cultural Edition (Longman Cultural Editions), edited by Claudia L. Johnson and Susan J. Wolfson. Publisher: Longman (2002) ISBN-10: 0321105079.

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