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19th Century Attitudes Towards Marriage Through Elizabeth Bennet's Perspective

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Words: 638 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 638|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Pride and Prejudice is one such novel where author Jane Austen successfully demonstrates the flexibility of the novel genre. She makes sure that romanticism and realism are balanced throughout her novel based on the accuracy of the socio-economic condition of the country at that time along with the characterisation of Mr. Fitzgerald Darcy. She also uses Elizabeth Bennet’s ardent idea approach and idea towards marriage for the part of romanticism. Jane Austen also effectively justifies the duality as she depicts the social mobility of Elizabeth contained by the limitations of the British Regency’s rigorous class hierarchy. Though realism and romanticism is considered as the primary genres of the novel Pride and Prejudice, the suppleness of the genre goes even further.

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Jane Austen was an author who opposed portraying vice and virtue in complete terms, and despite this, Toby R. Benis has termed Pride and Prejudice to be a ‘typical Austen Novel’ in which the heroine faces the hardship of choosing between two suitors, one of them virtuous and the other one not. Elizabeth Bennet faces the choice of choosing between Mr. Darcy and one Mr. Collins. Both of these characters have one or two flaws in their personality and neither of them is depicted as shameful for the Bennets’ like Mr Wickham was.

In all the novels of Jane Austen, including Pride and Prejudice, portrays a very shallow picture of the British society of the time. The opening statement of the novel, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” is idealistic in a very ironical way. There is further mocking of these people of the time with the statement, “feelings or views of such a man” are “little known”. This is something that is believed by most of the characters in the novel even though none of them ever voice it out loud. 

There is a very noticeable difference in the attitude of the older and younger characters towards the idea of marriage. Elizabeth Bennet refuses to marry someone just for money and thus rejects two marriage proposals. Like Darcy and Bingley, she is also ready to disregard social class when it comes to marriage. This is what brings the idea of romanticism to the novel even in the realistic setting. Anxiety of class difference is presented in a lot subtler manner and the heroine also marries her lover in the end of the novel.

Just like the perception seen to have by the character of Elizabeth, the genre of Pride and Prejudice can be considered to be a fluid reality. Sarah Wootton has said that even though Austen might have been reacting to the semi-autobiographical hero of Byron, she isn’t completely influenced by him. Instead, Sarah Wootton states that these similarities are obtained as a result of a shared influence. She also states that Austen was very familiar to the emerging literary figures of the time which included Milton’s Satan, Richardson’s Lovelace and Hamlet.

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Pride and Prejudice, practically speaking, is a very realistic novel that is presented to the readers in a romantic way. The beginning of the novel is marked by the challenge of the Mrs. Bennet to their daughters, asking them to get married as soon as they possibly can. Towards the end of the novel, she also celebrates the marriage of three of her five daughters. Even though the plot of the novel mostly focuses in the character of Elizabeth Bennet and her ideas regarding marriage and love, the more realistic idea of the time is provided by Mrs. Bennet’s idea of marriage as she is seen relating a lot of words like “jewels and carriages,, “rich”, and “pin-money” which her daughters will get on being married. Lydia’s marriage is shown to be less ideal as Darcy literally has to pay Wickham to marry her.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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19th Century Attitudes Towards Marriage Through Elizabeth Bennet’s Perspective. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/19th-century-attitudes-towards-marriage-through-elizabeth-bennets-perspective/
“19th Century Attitudes Towards Marriage Through Elizabeth Bennet’s Perspective.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/19th-century-attitudes-towards-marriage-through-elizabeth-bennets-perspective/
19th Century Attitudes Towards Marriage Through Elizabeth Bennet’s Perspective. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/19th-century-attitudes-towards-marriage-through-elizabeth-bennets-perspective/> [Accessed 22 May 2024].
19th Century Attitudes Towards Marriage Through Elizabeth Bennet’s Perspective [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2024 May 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/19th-century-attitudes-towards-marriage-through-elizabeth-bennets-perspective/
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