During the early 1800’s many people were considered part of an upper class society known as the aristocrats or nobility. For the women of these groups there was one main goal: marriage to someone who was rich and wealthy so their husbands could take them care of. This way of thinking was definitely prominent in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; many of the characters marry for sake of money and status. In this paper, I will a few examples of this way of thinking and I will also give the alternative to that way of thinking: marriage out of love. I will then give my opinion on which I think is a better reason for marriage.
The first person that I will identify as wanting to marry only for money is Mrs. Bennet. She got married to Mr. Bennet because he had a small fortune and an estate. It appears to me that they aren’t really in love with each other. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet seem to only have been married out of convenience. She is also in a hurry to marry off her daughters to handsome, rich men. She displays this desire when she says, “A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!” She goes on to say to Mr. Bennet, “You must know that I am thinking of marrying one of them” (5). Throughout the play she is always doing things to try and force the marriage between Jane and Mr. Bingley. The most outrageous thing that she did was when Jane was sick and she had to be kept at Netherfield. Lizzy went to look after her, and when she felt that it was in Jane’s best interests to go home, Mrs. Bennet said that they couldn’t possibly have it and if the Bingley’s invited them to stay longer, they should. This plan didn’t work out though. Lizzy was far too uncomfortable being there and she had already resolved that she wouldn’t possibly stay another day there. On Lizzy’s insistence, Jane got use of one of Mr. Bingley’s carriages and they were off on their way home.
The second character that married out of love for money was Charlotte Lucas. Ms. Lucas lived just down the road from the Bennets and she was a good friend to the family. Upon the arrival of Mr. Collins and his failed attempts of asking for Lizzy’s hand in marriage, He tries his luck with Ms. Lucas. Ms. Lucas, fairly older, decided to say yes. She said yes because she is an old woman and she thought that she wouldn’t have any other alternative. Mr. Collins was a man of the clergy and he was to inherit the estate that Mr. Bennet now owns. She saw this proposal as her final chance to do something with her life instead of being a burden to her parents. With this marriage to Mr. Collins, her parents wouldn’t have to take care of her for the rest of life and support her financially. By being married to Mr. Collins she would have someone to support and take care of her. Mrs. Bennet knew that Mr. Collins’ marriage to Charlotte was purely out of convenience and it seemed as if Mrs. Bennet despised Charlotte for this marriage. She states this when she said, “in an ill-natured tone that she ‘wished they might be happy’”(123).
The final character that marries for the wrong reasons is Lydia. She is as enamored by Mr. Wickham as everyone else. But she takes it to the next level when she decides to “run away” with him. This whole problem is alleviated when Mr. Darcy finds the two and persuades the to get married. He does this because it would bring shame to the family that Lydia had eloped with a man and they aren’t married as yet. This was a marriage for the sake of protecting the honor of the Bennet family.
This now leads us to a marriage out of love: the marriage between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Throughout the story, they both felt an attraction to each other. While Elizabeth was staying at Netherfield, Mr. Darcy felt “he had never been so bewitched by a woman as he was by her.” He goes on to think, “If it were not for the inferiority of her connection, he should really be in trouble” (46). Through the play, they both try to fight the feelings that they both know that they have for each other. Lizzy is constantly saying how much she despises him and how much he repulses her. But his seems to be a characteristic of someone who is on the verge of being in love with that person. She even overcame the crudeness of his personality as opposed to Mr. Wickham, who she had been somewhat interested in first. She found Wickham to be a liar and someone who she really didn’t know that well at all.
The second marriage that occurred out of love was the marriage between Mr. Bingley and Jane. From the moment they met each other at the ball, it was obvious that they were going to fall in love. This became very obvious when Mrs. Bennet says, “Everybody said how well she looked; and Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, danced with her twice” (14). Mrs. Bennet seemed proud of the fact that Mr. Bingley asked her daughter to dance twice. When Mr. Collins arrived, it was pretty definite that the marriage between Mr. Bingley and Jane sure to happen. Mrs. Bennet even goes so far as to say to Mr. Collins “her eldest daughter, she must mention was likely to be very soon engaged”(62).
In my opinion, I think both Elizabeth’s marriage to Darcy and Jane’s marriage to Bingley are for both love and money. Mrs. Bennet wasn’t displeased with their marriages because she was assured that both Jane and Lizzy would be in good hands. Both Darcy and Bingley are two wealthy men who can surely take care of Jane and Elizabeth. Also, the issue of supporting the rest of the family when Mr. Bennet passes away and Mr. Collins takes over the estate. Since both of the women will belong to a new wealthy family, they will be able to take care of the rest of their family.
In conclusion, I think that marrying purely for financial reasons isn’t good because that doesn’t really lead to happiness. As displayed in the book, The Way of the World by William Congreve, the character named Mrs. Fainall was very unhappy in her marriage to Mr. Fainall. Mr. Fainall only married Mrs. Fainall for her money, and Mrs. Fainall was unhappy because she couldn’t marry the person who she was in love with. I think that love is the strongest emotion that a person can ever feel in their lives. It can have the power to override all sense of reason. Elizabeth disregarded her ill feelings toward Mr. Darcy in the end because she knew deep down inside how she felt about him. Mr. Darcy couldn’t hold back his love any longer, and decided to take a chance and propose to a woman whom he knew didn’t like him that much. Love is all about taking chances on your feelings and following your heart. The people who don’t listen to their feelings will eventually wind up questioning why they decided to take the path that they did.
I think this story portrays the strength of other people’s opinions and how those opinions can influence a person to do something completely opposite than what they set out to do. I think Mrs. Bennet’s influence has truly corrupted all the women of the household except Lizzy. I think Lizzy really wasn’t searching for that wealthy man to get married to right at that moment. I think she just wanted to enjoy life and take everything one day at a time. The other sisters are exhibiting behaviors similar to their mother’s. For example, when Kitty and Lydia are constantly running into town to hear the latest gossip and to flirt with all the soldiers in town. I think the aristocratic views of this society have corrupted the minds of the young teenage girl of that time period. I think that the reason that Lizzy is Mr. Bennet’s favorite is because she isn’t like the rest of her sisters.