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“Pride and Prejudice” is a novel written by Jane Austen during the Victorian era, this novel of manners shows us an interesting insight on the power of money, love, family, social status and marriage. This novel represents marriage rituals from the perspective of the Victorian period, so it would be normal to think that there are many differences between celebrations of that time and the current ones. Marriage rituals have highly developed throughout the course of time, but the concept developed in this novel goes beyond, showing marriages as the pursuit of higher social status level and wealth, not as an act of true love based on the society of the nineteen century in England. It should be considered that in the Victorian era marriages were seen as a very important social issue and a powerful business, where husband and wife were chosen in marriage of convenience as an act of survival in order to get stability in society, companionship, comfort and riches. In this novel, marriage was strongly represented as a very important topic instead of love, which played an awful role in the already fixed marriages of convenience of that era. For that reason, “Pride and Prejudice” accomplished to show both sides of the story; the importance of marriage when it comes to marry a good and wealthy man or a wonderful wife with strong moral values, carefully educated, virtuous; and also being part of a prestigious family, but at the same time dealing with the power of love, as represented by Elizabeth Bennet and Mister Darcy. Taking these points of view as a reference, in this essay I would like to explore and analyze the differences of having a marriage of convenience like a business as it has been shown in the Victorian era and in the novel, giving more importance to the social status and wealth without worrying about the consequences to catch the highest bidder instead of caring about feelings and discovering a pure and real feeling, full of new emotions as love is. Considering that marriage is a huge word, in terms that you are choosing the person with you spend the rest of your life, I think that a marriage without love is a very boring engagement because mates who are not in love with each other do not respond to the desire of feeling love. It is for that reason that I will make a comparison between marriages, focused on the perspectives from the Victorian society in order to respond why it is so important being married, no matter what the consequences are, what things should a wife possess and why women accepted getting married under valuable conditions with a man totally unknown to them, being very docile and sad instead of being single, but really happy. And at the same time I will focus on the perspective from the novel in which marriage and love were represented by the characters in many different ways. I remember how the younger sisters of Elizabeth Bennet behaved in order to get a beautiful and wonderful husband who possessed wealth and good social status, but unfortunately they did not use the better strategies to get the highest bidders, promoting a behavior that was not understandable for the entire society, mainly because her mother taught those girls that marriage was very important for them and for the social status of the family, but the only thing that those girls achieved was to create a very bad reputation for their middle class family. Thus, I will deal with the importance of marriage by taking points of view from the Victorian era and from the book in order to support my ideas about marriage, ambition, triviality and love.
The importance of marriage in the lives of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters can be very difficult to understand nowadays, but in the nineteen century, during the Victorian era, the importance of marriage was something irrational and unbelievable in which mates were chosen to gather their lives based on their social status and wealth, with marriage playing a fundamental role for their own comfort and companionship for life because many of those marriages of convenience were created just with the purpose of having a total heir, so the mother of the bride was always protected by the heir and his family and did not lose any property or luxury. Unfortunately, those marriages were made without love because in those periods of times marriage and love were things that were not coming together. Furthermore, social classes were very important at the moment of choosing a partner; depending on their social class, people could negotiate their marriage of convenience or “business deal”, because there were some patterns that both of them, husband and wife, had to accomplish in order to be the perfect one. In the case of the husband, the list of patterns was shorter than the women’s list. The husband just had to earn certain quantity of money per year, and have fortune, great social status, and valuable properties. In the case of women, the list of patterns was more complex than men’s list because women had to be a sample into the society. Thus, the role of woman in the nineteen century was very passive, taking into account our modern society in which women are totally independent and open-minded. Getting back to what I was developing, the role of woman in the Victorian era was a very competitive role because some of the characteristics that they had to possess were to be women who had house as her favorite place. Their primordial reasoning was that their career was marriage, and in order to get ready for marriage, women had to be able to sing, play any instrument, and speak other languages such as Italian and French. However, there were also more important qualities; those gentlewomen had to be really innocent, carefully educated, virtuous, dutiful and ignorant of intellectual opinion. This last characteristic is very important because the sillier a woman is, the better for a man. A woman with this special characteristic could never rebel against her husband or against the society, because they were under control with few gifts, riches and properties. Regarding to education, women had several problems in the Victorian era because of the previously mentioned reason and their own social class, seeing that the differences between social classes were highlighted by the entire society. In those times women were not allowed to access to higher education, and depending on their social level they were educated at home by private tutors, making their opportunities very limited. Women were totally conscious about their purpose of life and that was to be a good wife able to maintain her husband and a good family atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Victorian era was a very male chauvinist cause in terms of marriage and the roles of the couple, seeing that the husband was allowed to keep a mistress just to relax and enjoy the life while his wife had to be at home receiving guests, sewing, writing letters and dressing elegant clothes for her husband. It is for that reason that a very clever writer called Jane Austen wrote “Pride and Prejudice” as a personal goal to mention and express feelings about different issues in which women were totally limited according to their opportunities to reach a better lifestyle. Many people think that Jane Austen was a very feminist woman who dealt with many issues for the sake of struggling for the women’s rights, but others notice that Jane Austen just looked for the way to show many situations that a young woman could be involved in if she did not have moral autonomy. With this fact, we can discover why Elizabeth Bennet is the heroine of the novel, because through this character Austen could show us that the period of time in which you live is not as important as your ability to express your feelings and thoughts about anything, as Elizabeth did in Pride and Prejudice. She was never afraid of telling something and she was able to break the rules about marriage of convenience. Elizabeth was not willing to get married with somebody who she was not in love with, due to the fact that she never stopped believing in true and pure love. Despite that Elizabeth did not have the beauty of her sister Jane and that her bad reputation was caused by their family, she was proudly willing to find love and happiness, and one way to express her way of thinking was to show her intelligence, sense of humor, and playful disposition. Elizabeth was her father’s favorite daughter because of her astuteness and quickness, and despite that she and her sister did not have the better education, Elizabeth did not worried about that given that she was pretty sure about her strengths and weaknesses. One way to prove this is considering the following quotation “”such of us as wished to learn, never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle certainly might”. This is what Elizabeth said when Lady Catherine asked her about her and her sister’s education, but Elizabeth, always sure about her knowledge, defended her educational process and family reputation showing how clever and smart she was. Finally, we realize about the great importance marriage in the Victorian era, certainly just as an economical issue as well as a consequence of an ambitious society which was worried about honor and prestigious and the wealth of the population. However, there is always a hero able to change the mind of the society regarding love and marriage. In this case there was actually a heroine called Elizabeth, who under her charming intelligence tried to deal with her society in order to stop doing marriage without love and starting to give more importance to love and women with the purpose of stopping discriminating unmarried women, and put special attention to those women who believed in a happy ending.
At the beginning of the novel Pride and Prejudice, the first sentence says: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”. This phrase show us how important is marriage for the society of that period, but we can notice that the phrase emphasized the man having a good fortune. So, it is easily understandable that marriages were totally necessaries in that time to increase financial funds. Besides, the quote never mentioned something related to “love”, indicating once more that marriage in the Victorian era was something totally superficial and negotiable with the families involved in the commercial engagement. With this premise, it is very easy to reveal the purpose of Jane Austen through the character of Elizabeth Bennet. Jane Austen was not in agreement with the marriages of convenience; she actually supported the idea that any marriage could occur without the feeling of love because she thought that a man had to appreciate the woman who had next to him without worrying about her elegance, her properties, family’s reputation or education. Thus, in order to persuade her society, she showed the readers both relationships in the story juxtapositioning couples who got married for love and others who got married for social reasons. The idea of Jane Austen was to influence her society about marriages: they could only happen when love is present. Pride and Prejudice is an invitation to notice what was wrong with the society of those times and start believing in love, which is totally represented by the main characters of the story and how they had to fight against the harsh society where the characters were involved in order to achieve happiness. The story is developed in the nineteen century, where the society in England was reluctant to start believing in love, because the only really important thing for them was power and money. Men were in charge of earning a lot of money per year while women were in charge of the house, writing letters, sewing (once they are married) or looking for a good husband in the way that the younger sister of Elizabeth did. She was desperate looking for any man who could solve her family problems, because her mother Ms.Bennet taught her that the most important thing according to that society was to be married. Thus, those girls could do anything in order to get a husband. They went to fancy balls, to see the soldiers, looking for the proper man everywhere, thus giving their family a horrible reputation. But when there is real love, it doesn’t matter if the family of your future wife has a bad reputation because when love strikes, the only important thing is to be happy. This was the case of Jane and Bingley; when they met in a party, it was love at first sight, but both of them were very shy to express their feelings. Bingley was a very rich and handsome man, and Jane was the most beautiful of the Bennett’s daughters. Some time ago, after many misunderstandings caused by the first impressions of Mr. Darcy regarding the Bennets, they could express their feelings and Bingley proposed to Jane. This was also a fixed marriage, but both of them were in love with each other. A story a little bit different happened with Mr. Collin and Charlotte Lucas who got married in a marriage of convenience after hearing that Elizabeth did not accept to get married with her cousin Collin because she was not in love with him, and Elizabeth believed in real love. In previous lines, I mentioned that one of the purposes of marriage of convenience was having an heir, this is one reason why Collins wanted to get married with Elizabeth, but unfortunately for him she did not accept. So, a disappointed Collins proposed to Charlotte Lucas, and she accepted immediately because she wanted financial and social security, and also she was pretty old and she felt that Mr. Collins was her best option, and they would be eventually very happy with their arrangement. Regarding to the marriage for convenience between Wickham and Lydia, it was a very awful relationship because Wickham was obliged to get married after Lydia ran away with him. She was too naÃ¯ve and ignorant, but she was very happy because the important deal was that she was married in spite of the fact that Wickham was not in love with her. So, she will never be happy with him. Finally, the real love story of the novel which shows us what love is, and how to fight against first impressions in order to achieve happiness and forget about the past because Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth had a relationship based on first bad impressions about the other, but as time went by, both of them realized that they were madly in love each other, and they learnt that love could not be judged by appearances. Darcy’s opinion of Elizabeth was she is “tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me”, and Elizabeth’s opinion of Darcy was that he was a self-centered man. However, they finally got married showing that happiness was only achievable when there is real love. Now, this book can change my mind about marriage of convenience because even though this book was written in the Victorian era, it did not support the ideas that the only way to reach the perfect business was getting married. The author of the book tried to influence the audience about that the perfect marriage is in which you are completely in love with your partner because only in that way you can achieve eternal happiness. It was also shown in this novel what happens if you get married of convenience; those problems were not going to help you to be entirely happy because there is no love. Finally, we can discover that in few cases of marriages of convenience, you can achieve a certain degree of happiness like Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas, who at least tried to be happy in their marriage. So, marriages of convenience are not always so bad, thinking about that there are many people who get married with a person that they do not love because of ambition, poverty or loneliness.
As a final brief and conclusion to this essay about marriages, I discovered that marriages during the Victorian era were simply business in which both groom and bride were chosen for social, financial and humanistic purposes. Furthermore, the nineteen century society was totally dominated by men, so the role of women had little importance because they certainly became the slaves who enjoyed spending all their times at home, sewing or letters writing, or at least they pretended to do so. All of that revolution happened because of the fear of men who were not able to lose their power over the society where they could spend time with their own mistress, while women were in charge of keeping the family atmosphere. Fortunately, there was a female writer who was able to challenge her society. Jane Austen wrote a novel of manners in which she covered the role of woman in that society, the importance of marriages with the perfect mates according to their social status and the lifestyle of each couple. This novel also gave us hope that true love exists and that you can achieve happiness, but only if you are entirely in love with your mate. Pride and Prejudice showed a mixture of situations in which our society can identify who is getting married because of love and who is getting married because of social issues. Nowadays it can be very difficult trying to explain why in the past people got married just for convenience and in which love played a minor role. The role of women was humiliating, and the society was all about social status, wealth and comfort. There was a very superficial population that was worried about any material source. Finally, when you read Pride and Prejudice, you will recognize which characters are represented by true love and can finally achieve happiness, what characters represent a marriage of convenience. You will also try to find a comparison to our current world because power, ambition and social classes still are a problem which is another obstacle to find real love.
NAME: EVELYN MENDEZ
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