Pride And Prejudice In Austen’s Era
According to the author Robert Fulham “the point is that getting married for lust or money or social status or even love is usually trouble. The point is that marriage is a maze into which we wander, a maze that is best to go through with a great companion”. In the novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, marriage and social status is important. The purpose of marriage is to rise in economic social class which Charlotte Lucas portrays. However, Jane and Elizabeth changed this custom by marrying not for social status, but for love. Moreover, this radical choice affects the gender inequality that is present during Austen’s era; when entering a marriage, women have standards to follow. Georgiana Darcy and Jane Bennett are characters who demonstrates a typical woman: quiet, reserved and well-mannered. However, Lydia’s character contrasts to Georgina and Jane, showing no “angel of the house” characteristics. Bingley and Darcy on the other hand, are rich and handsome, being capable of getting a wife. Unlike Bingley and Darcy, Wickham is not as rich and is still able to get a wife. With all this pressure, the characters still manage to get married for love while still being able to marry a man to move up in society.
For many years, women have always been dependent on man. According to Lili Lu and Zhao, women are called ‘decorations in the living room’ and ‘angels in the kitchen’ (Chandio, Rashid, et al 1). In the novel, women have certain standards to manifest in order to have a husband. Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice during a time when “women were expected to stay at home, reproduce, bring up children, cook and clean” (Sundari, S.P. Guna 2). Their society expects them to marry any man as long as they were safe and secure with money, along with a comfortable home. Georgiana Darcy and Jane Benette are characters from the novel that shows characteristic of “angel of the house”. Throughout the novel, Georgiana Darcy is one of the characters that shows the quality of being the “angel of the house”. She is described as,
“tall, and on a larger scale that Elizabeth; and though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance was less handsome that her brother; but there was sense and good humour in her face and her way were perfectly unassuming and gentle” (Austen 22).
According to Elizabeth, Georgiana is more like her sister Jane than herself. She is a shy and sweet malleable sister to Darcy. Her naivety results her not marrying Wickham since her brother Darcy forbidden it, although she has a desire to marry Wickham. She is the perfect typical wife since she has all the traits of being an “angel of the house”. Another character that shows “angel of the house” character is Jane Bennet. According to Elizabeth “[she is a] great deal too apt you know, to like people in general. You never see fault in anybody” (Austen 11). Elizabeth accuses Jane for being naive and forgiving. Jane’s willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt and sees the best parts of them helps her to reconcile with other people. Her personalities are reserved and gentle, which is also a typical trait of women during the 19th century. In conclusion, Jane and Georgiana are more womanly than any other characters. Since they have those traits, they can easily get a husband. Their personality and beauty were deemed respectable for a woman and therefor a “perfect wife”. Unlike Georgiana and Jane, Lydia is a fallen woman since she does show any characteristic of “angel of the house”. Lydia is spoiled, bold, brack and reckless. On this quotation, she is writing a letter to Harriet saying,
“I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise tomorrow morning, as soon as I am missed…I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off…What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing.” (Austen 247).
It shows how Lydia is silly, flirtatious and girlish. She demonstrates being flirtatious by running off with Wickham while not caring about the possible repercussions, social ruin of the entire family and destitution. She said, ‘well, mamma, what do you think of my husband? Is not he a charming man? I am sure my sisters all envy me. I only hope they may have half my good luck.’ (Austen 270). Lydia return home, as insufferable as before. She gloated incessantly about her status as a married woman to all the neighbors in town, and even told her eldest sister that she was more important because she married first. She followed through the expectations until she desperate enough to become social climber. She did achieve what she wanted, however it results in her into marrying a user. In conclusion, Lydia is far from being like her sisters. She would do anything that she desires whenever she wants to.
In Austen’s era, “the intended marriage […] mainly concerns financial conditions and subsistence rather than love and appreciation” (Sundari, S.P. Guna.3 ). Marriage is used to increase social value. Women are restricted as properties and so, they need a man to inherit their father’s fortune. It was a tradition that men inherits all the fortunes (Sundriyal, Ankita 2). Charlotte Lucas is one of the characters that marry for social value and security. She is described as ‘sensible, intelligent young woman’ (Austen 14). In reality she could be intelligent, however she was single and past twenty five. This age was seen as old for a woman and therefore, gave her no choice but to marry Mr. Collins. Since she knows that she is aging, and knows that her only choice is to be the mistress of Mr. Collin’s house. She ‘accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment’ (Austen 106). That’s why when Mr. Collins gave her a proposal she “swiftly accepts his proposal of marriage” (Gao, Haiyan 5). In conclusion, Charlotte Lucas chose to marry Mr.Collins for stability in the future and to become a bourgeoisie. If she did not marry sooner, she would have less like hood into moving up the society and will stay as her father’s and brother’s property.
In contrast, Jane and Elizabeth married for true love. Austen presented that women married for their protection but not for their choice of love (Sundari, S.P. Guna. 4). On the other hand, Elizabeth and Jane also married rich men, but their intention was to share their mindedness with their life partner. Jane and Bingley shows that true love exists, and not unhampered by either pride or prejudice. Jane is already in love with Bingley when they first met, she declared to Elizabeth “He is just what a young man ought to be; said she, sensible, good humoured, lively and I never saw such happy manner!.. so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!” (Austen 10). Jane and Bingley are a love match and their good natured personalities make them a perfect couple. Elizabeth and Darcy are contrasting to Jane and Bingley’s love story. Elizabeth dislikes Darcy when they first encounter, due to Darcy’s being arrogant. However, as the novel is coming to an end, Elizabeth and Darcy fell in love with each other, as Elizabeth confessing to her father “I do, I do like him,” she replied with tears in her eyes, “I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable.” (Austen 324). They may hate each other from the beginning, but it lead them to forever. In conclusion, Jane and Elizabeth are both happily married and in love. In the 19th century, marriage was dominated by material base in English society, and so, social relationships and economic mode determined the rule of marriage ( Gao, Haiyan 2). In Austen’s day, the only road for mid-class lady’s happy life was to marry well. Almost every woman’s ideal man was a millionaire or at least a single gentleman with a piece of estate and much money every year (Gao, Haiyan 5). Bingley is one of the men that many single women would want to marry. According to Mrs. Bennet, “to see many young men of 4000 a year come into the neighbourhood” (Austen 94). Mrs. Bennet is telling to his husband and daughter that Bingley is a good man to marry since his someone from the upper class who wears his position lightly and gallantly. Darcy, on the other hand is a primary example of Austen’s ideal high-class gentleman. Darcy may seem arrogant and selfish, however as the novel progresses it becomes clear that he is capable of change. Many single ladies would want to marry him although he has a bad first impression, due “by his fine, tall, handsome features, noble men and the report which was in general circulation within 5 minutes after his entrance of his having 10000 a year” (Austen 7). In this quotation, everyone is interested in him since they know that he is good looking and wealthy. In conclusion, marriage is use to get ahead in society. Marriage is not use to find true love. Women in the 19th century are not looking for their true love, they are looking for a man who is wealthy and handsome.
Wickham, on the other hand is a seemingly perfect gentleman from a poor family. Wickham has all the looks that woman desires, according to one of the characters “the attention of every lady was soon caught by a young man, whom they had never seen before, of most gentlemanlike appearance, walking with an officer on the other side of the way” (Austen 61). This is the reaction of the female characters the first time they saw Wickham. Although they do not know anything about Wickham’s character, they are distracted by his handsome appearance. They assume his good look must also mean he is a good person. One of the Bennett sisters, fell madly in love with him that she forgot what the purpose of marriage is in the first place. When they got married, Wickham does not have the capacity to support Lydia on a daily basis. Lydia has to ask one of her sisters for money. On this quote, Lydia is asking Elizabeth for money,
“It is great comfort to have you so rich; and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would of about three or four hundred a year” (Austen 332).
It shows that they are struggling in life since they have to ask for help to survive. Wickham could have all the looks that woman desires, but he comes from a poor family who does not have any social status like Darcy and Bingley. That man did have expectations to be rich and successful to marry. Unfortunately he does not have these two attributes therefore he resorted to deception and manipulation.
The purpose of the characters in the novel is to marry and move up in society. However, some of the characters like Jane and Elizabeth still manage to marry a man they love, while moving up in society. Jane and Georgiana are characters that demonstrated typical women’s role, known as “angel of the house”, contrasting to Lydia who has no traits of “angel of the house”, demonstrating her character as being flirtatious, girlish and silly. Charlotte Lucas uses Mr. Collins for security and to increase her social value. Darcy and Bingley are well off and handsome to be able to get a wife. However, Wickham is also handsome but not as rich as Bingley and Darcy, and still able to get wife by his flirtatiousness and fooling girls using his physical attributes. Marrying to increase social security and not for love is a bad starting point in marriage. Since marriage are made for two people who really love each other and share their life forever.
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