Evaluation of Wedlock and Contentment Through Different Characters by Jane Austen

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Words: 1878 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Words: 1878|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Jane Austen is known for using parallel characters to make clear points and is known to use them to emphasize her culture, especially in terms of marriage and happiness. In Austen’s culture, social class, rank, and financial situations would inform people’s decisions on whom they might marry. People accepted these class arrangements, but some individuals didn’t have financial resources and were forced to marry someone with money to survive. The relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy shows how both have grown and overcome their pride and prejudice regarding each other to achieve happiness together. As a parallel, there's Jane and Bingley who are shown as more immature, idealistic individuals who do not challenge each other in their relationship. Charlotte's choice to marry Mr. Collins exemplifies a character marrying realistically. Charlotte gives up happiness with another person for the promise of her well-being, and her decision to marry Mr. Collins parallels Elizabeth’s decision to turn down Mr. Collins’s proposal. It is easy to see how some of Austen’s characters jump into getting married to people before learning their spouse's personalities; readers can grasp this point by observing the examples that those people grew up looking to for moral guidance Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are a married couple who did not make good parents because their r relationship is shown to fail because they're not in love. Through support and care for others, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are much more responsible and sensible parents than the Bennetts. The Gardiners are better examples of adults in a healthy relationship for the Bennet children to look up to. Austen’s creation of the parallel characters listed above sheds light on how her culture affects love and happiness in marriage.

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After many conversations, fights, and letters, Darcy’s true character was finally revealed to Elizabeth. Lizzy had developed a prejudice against Darcy from the way he was in front of the company and the stories she had heard from other people. At one point in the book, she is quoted as saying “But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.” (Austen, 205) Lizzy's eyes are opened to the fact that she finds the same qualities in herself that she shamed Darcy for owning. Darcy’s character is slowly revealed to Elizabeth through his noble actions. It takes Elizabeth a considerable amount of time to get over the prejudice she set up against Darcy and realize that she has a growing love for him.

Darcy grows in his relationship with Elizabeth because he learns how to put aside his pride to respect her. “He likes to have his way very well,” replied Colonel Fitzwilliam. “ But so we all do. It is only that he has better means of having it than many others, because he is rich, and many others are poor.” (182) Mr. Darcy’s rich upbringing made him into a prideful creature who believed himself to be better than others. Elizabeth’s challenging and bold character caused Darcy to become more self-aware. Elizabeth and Darcy question each other’s intentions and characters, so they have a deeper understanding of one another that is experienced through the wide range of emotions portrayed in their relationship.

A parallel couple to the one above is Jane and Bingley. Jane is a simple, wonderful girl who is gentle and easygoing. Jane tends to think optimistically about people and situations, whereas Elizabeth will question people’s motives and pick apart their character. “You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.” (16) Jane is married happily to Bingley, although this seems to be all of the emotion in their relationship. Bingley does not distrust people’s actions and is easily influenced by others. Darcy is the opposite because he is more clever and tends to take his word as opposed to looking to others for affirmation. Jane and Bingley, because of their attributes, have a shallow connection that is built upon nothing more than fancying one another rather than challenging each other. Their relationship will be unable to evolve or grow past what it is.

Charlotte's decision to marry Mr. Collins reveals a lot about her situation in life, which affects her view of love and happiness in marriage. “She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly unlike like her own; but she could not have supposed it possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage.” (125) There are reasons that Charlotte does not view love and marriage in the same way that Elizabeth does. Charlotte is six years older and not as pretty as Elizabeth, which matters when about marriage, for the older someone gets, the slimmer the chance that anybody of importance would be interested in marrying that person. Charlotte is shunned in her home for not being married yet so late in her life and doesn’t want to take the option of moving in with her brother. Charlotte married sensibly for her situation and approached the matter of marriage from a financial stability standpoint rather than a chance of love and happiness with Mr. Collins.

“I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him tomorrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the disposition of the other parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterward to have their share of vexation, and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.” (24)

Elizabeth cannot fathom why Charlotte would choose to live a life with the boring Mr. Collins. Elizabeth upholds her integrity and independence, refusing Mr. Collins’s proposal. Elizabeth turns down two romantic proposals from two financially stable men. Elizabeth has a very small fortune and it is not sensible to walk away from proposals that would secure her future. “My situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own are circumstances highly in my favor; and you should take it into further consideration that, despite your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made to you. Your portion is unhappily so small, that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must, therefore, conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall choose to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.” (108) Elizabeth does not follow the status quo of giving up happiness for security, instead, she questions the cultural norm and boldly pursues her path. This is also selfish or blind of Lizzy because Mr. Collins will inherit the estate after Mr. Bennet dies. When Lizzy decides to reject Mr. Collins's marriage she is also leaving her and her family to fend for themselves once Mr. Bennet passes away.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have a relationship that does not work well which affects their daughters. The Bennet parents are not in love and do not have any similarities. “Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts,* sarcastic humor, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news. Mrs. Bennet's goal for her daughters is to marry them off, and Lizzy does not comply with this goal, which causes friction between mother and daughter. Lizzy will not marry unless it is for love and Mrs. Bennet views this as unrealistic. Mrs. Bennet only thinks of marrying her daughters off so that they may be financially stable when they lose the estate. At least Mrs. Bennet is looking after the general well-being of her daughters, meanwhile, Mr. Bennet is reading in his library alone. ‘“Now Kitty you may cough as much as you choose,” said Mr. Bennet; and as he spoke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.”(10) Mr. Bennet retreats into solitude so that he does not have to be around his unrestrained wife. Mr. Bennet does not involve himself in family matters, and he simply observes the situation unless there is something urgent that needs his attention. Mr. Bennet does not care much for his daughters besides Lizzy who is very clever. Mr. Bennet watches situations that his daughters and wife are in, for his amusement.

Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are parallel characters that are the opposites of the Bennet parents. The Gardiners have a marriage that is full of love and happiness. Through their good marriage, the Gardiners help out the Bennets that do not do as well because of their parent's failings. Mrs. Gardiner supports Elizabeth through her troubles by writing long letters of advice and information explaining situations. Mr. Gardiner assists Mr. Bennet in tracking down Lydia in London after she decides to elope with Wickham. Mr. Bennet returns home, but Mr. Gardiner continues to search for Lydia in London until he finds her, once he does he even pays Wickham to marry Lydia so that her reputation will not be ruined. The Gardiners are better parents than Mr. and Mrs. Bennet because they show support and care. The Bennet daughters do not have good role models for love and marriage through examples from their parents, but rather from the Gardiners. “With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by, bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” (375)

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Throughout this paper, there have been explanations made about the use of Jane Austen’s parallel characters emphasising the effects of her culture relating to love and marriage. When comparing these characters the reader can suddenly see the stark contrasts of their love and happiness in marriage. Characters who accept social norms and do not face the challenges that help them understand their partner will not fall in love genuinely, and deeply understand their character.

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Evaluation of Wedlock and Contentment through Different Characters by Jane Austen. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Evaluation of Wedlock and Contentment through Different Characters by Jane Austen.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
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