Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

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If love is nature's way of tricking men and women into procreation, then marriage represents civilization's ultimate sleight of mind, heart and purse.Jane Austen makes it clear in thefirst line of Pride and Prejudice that marriage is the subject and that a "single man in possession of a good fortune" (1), the wealthy bachelor, is the desirable target in this tale.In Austen's traditional world the fixed social rules, class strata, and economic parameters drive the marriage marketplace.Activity is brisk and the sense of urgency is seen best in the person of Mrs. Bennett whose "business of her life was to get her daughters married" (3).Austen presents a memorable, amusing and distinct 19th century picture of the important role that marriage plays as a stabilizing social and economic institution.In the bucolic setting of the English countryside, the reader witnesses several kinds of courtship, each with its unique twist and turn of events, that lead to marriages of convenience, passion, geniality, and at the end, a love match.
Courtship, marriage, family and love are at the center of Austen's intricate design and she reveals the many ways it manifests.This essay will examine the relationships of three couples, comment on their differences and explore their alliances from a social and economic perspective.Charlotte Lucas is a pragmatist who believes that "nothing is in question but the desire of being well married" (15) and that marriage is the "pleasantest preservative from want" (94).She proves her point by marrying Mr. Collins, a man of the cloth, who holds a respectable position in the community and is a protégé of the influential and wealthy Lady Catherine de Bourgh.Even more important, Collins is Mr. Bennet's cousin and as the nearest male heir, will inherit the Bennet estate that has been "entailed away" and cannot be left …