Compromise And Marriage In Pride And Prejudice

1972 words - 8 pages

Compromise and Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

 
     It is not unusual for an individual to disagree with social customs or expectations. Some people are only happy when they can rebel against society. Most mature adults eventually realize that compromise is necessary to achieve happiness. This is the case in the early nineteenth century England setting of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. In the novel, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is a lively, independent woman, whose family's financial situation and whose strong mindedness suggest that she may never marry. Mr. Darcy, is a rigid and proper man, who falls in love with Elizabeth, despite their differences. By the end of the novel, Elizabeth and Darcy learn to compromise, and, in doing so, become truly happy. In marrying, they not only fulfill themselves as individuals, but also affirm the principle values of society. The marriage at the end of the novel shows Jane Austen's ideal view of marriage as a social institution.

 

    The novel Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen gives us the reader a very good idea of how she views marriage, as well as society. The theme of marriage is set in the very opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice; "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" (Austen, 1) As Norman Sherry points out, this is Austen's way of implying that 'a single man in possession of a good fortune' is automatically destined to be the object of desire for all unmarried women. The statement opens the subject of the romantic novel; courtship and marriage. The sentence also introduces the issue of what the reasons for marrying are. She implies here that many young women marry for money. The question the reader must ask himself is, does Jane Austen think this is moral? Sherry shows us that Austen was not particularly romantic. She reveals these sentiments through Charlotte remarks concerning her marriage to Mr. Collins.

 

"I am not 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 is as fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage state." (Austen, 95)

 

Elizabeth, as Sherry points out, is not particularly romantic either, however unlike Charlotte, Elizabeth has a certain picture of an ideal marriage in her mind, and therefore would never marry for reasons other than love. We assume that since Elizabeth is the main character, this is how Jane Austen sees marriage. Since Elizabeth would not marry without love, we can also assume that Jane Austen sees what Charlotte does as immoral. Elizabeth also feels that marriages formed by passion alone are just as bad as marriages formed without love. Elizabeth reflects on her sister Lydia's marriage; "But how little permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were...

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