This attitude toward marriage, depending on the mutual

This essay is written to explore different attitudes toward marriage in Pride and Prejudice. It also briefly touches women versus men’s worlds with the specific view presented by Austen. Focusing on several characters, types of marriages are highlighted.      Writing and publishing in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one of Jane Austen’s purposes in her comedies of manners is to emphasize the manners revolving around the theme of getting married or not getting married.      Starting with the opening lines of the novel “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” (p. 1) which immediately presents us that women largely dependent on the males of the upper classes.  “An unmarried man of large fortune- four or five thousand pounds a year. What a fine thing for our girls!” (p. 3) These words turn our attention to the general perspective of people with an ordinary mentality, who are the members of the middle class at that time, such as Mrs. Bennet.          In Pride and Prejudice, marriage is used for getting what is desired- fortune, raising the status in the society or as Charlotte Lucas stated at once “I shall be satisfied with having a comfortable home.” usually sacrificing the feelings and desires. The social pressure of creating families leads to the decisions of marriage without having feelings like Mr. Collins who comes to Loughbourn with the intention of getting married to one of the Bennet daughters. Due to the fact that he is supposed to hire all Bennet’s possessions, he is completely sure with receiving a positive response from the second oldest Bennet sisters, Elizabeth. “Almost as soon as I entered this house, I made you my choice as the companion of my future life. My reasons for marrying are, first, I think it is a right thing for every church minister to set an example by doing so; secondly, I am sure that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly, Lady Catherine has advised it.” (p. 60) Being astonished by Elizabeth’s refusal, within three days, he proposes to Charlotte Lucas, getting accepted as she has similarly practical attitude toward marriage, depending on the mutual pessimistic understanding “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” The underlying factor in addition to that perspective is the age factor. As Charlotte is twenty-seven years old and still unmarried, any opportunity to get married is highly important to her; otherwise, she could be in danger of humiliation.        Contrast to her, Elizabeth believes that the basis for marriage is happiness and love, not money. What is stated for the sudden engagement of Mr. Collins and Charlotte proves her point of view. “She would never have expected Charlotte to give up her finer feelings to gain no more than comfort. She felt that her friend had shamed herself, and she did not believe it is possible for her to be happy in the life she had chosen.” (p. 70)          On the other hand, the effects of status differences are underlined in the novel. The obvious affair between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley brings out some comments and mocks among Mrs. Hurst, Mr. Darcy, Louisa Bingley and Caroline Bingley. “I am extremely fond of Jane Bennet. She is really a very sweet girl. I wish it all my heart that she was well settled. But with such parents and such low relations, I am afraid there is no chance of it.” (p.26) “It must greatly lessen her chance of marrying a man of good position.” (p. 27) replied Mr. Darcy. As Darcy is made full of pride, “He really believed that, if it were not for her inferior relations, he would be in some danger of falling in love.” , thinking about Elizabeth. Yet controlling the emotions for a long time can be harder for a higher-class man, on a visit to Mrs. Collins, when Elizabeth feels bad and take rest at home, he walks into the room inquiring after her health. “I have struggled without success. My feelings will not be controlled. You must allow me to tell you how warmly I admire and love you.” (p. 99)     The issue of marriage not only as an act of love but also for money and social obligation is also indicated in Pride and Prejudice. Wickham wants marriage for only economic settlement. He can easily transfer his affections from Elizabeth to Miss Mary King whose grandfather had just died and left her ten thousand pounds. “Elizabeth’s heart had been only slightly touched and her pride was satisfied with believing that she would have been his only choice if fortune had permitted.” (p. 76). “It is about dear Wickham. There is no danger of his marrying Mary King. She has gone away. Wickham is safe!”, “And Mary King is safe! added Elizabeth. Safe from a marriage which would be unwise in regard to fortune.” (p. 118). Mr. Darcy also mentions about Wickham in his letter to Elizabeth. “Wickham’s chief object was, without doubt, my sister’s fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds, but I cannot help supposing that he also hoped to annoy me.” (p. 110)  Moreover, at that time, for a woman, being in a relationship without marriage results in disgrace from the whole family and getting expelled from the society. With the thread of Lydia Bennet’s elopement, Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner try their best to keep the good name of the family forcing Wickham to marry Lydia.      With the examination of different attitudes to marriages, Austen tries to give us an important moral lesson in the end. The marriage based on other perspectives except love brings only sufferings and humiliations.