Austin corners young women off into making tough decisions about their future. In Student’s society, it was extremely difficult for a woman to break out of her shell and become independent. Education was not offered at that time to women and so were not professions. The only way to secure their finances was to either inherit money from the father but, that usually went to the heir of the family and the woman would have to live under his roof as a dependent sister.
The more sensible option at that time was to get married to a wealthy, young man with a promising future. Any other alternative would be seen as Impossible to accomplish for a woman, so It Is safe to say that there was a strong sense of patriarchy that existed In England. There was a lot of pressure for a woman to get married, not for love and starting a family but, for more of a stably In life. If one were to stay unmarried her whole life, It would result In a middle- lower class lifestyle that woman were not prepared to live In.
Austin uses satire to prove the point of how ridiculous the Idea of marriage these upper class people hold actually is. Upon being introduced to Mr… Collins, Elizabeth minds him to be pompous and conceited because he speaks highly of himself to others which exposes his flaws that everyone around him seems to pick up on. Once Mr… Collins proposes to her, Elizabeth very kindly rejects him the best way she can because, she knows she will probably go insane living with him. This was a profound moment in the novel as, Elizabeth breaks the social barrier of every woman getting married to a man for his wealth.
Mr… Collins was built as a character who not many will like however, knowing that he will inherit Mr… Bonnet’s estate Charlotte Lucas, the opportunist that she is, accepts to marry him later in the novel. Her justification to Elizabeth was, ” You must be surprised, very much surprised,-so lately as Mr… Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not a romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home” (114).
Charlotte was twenty-seven years old and as described in the book “not pretty” so, she understood her circumstances and quickly pounced on the opportunity for a better life fore herself. Although Mr… Collins Is not a desirable mate to her, Charlotte believes she will live a happy life with him cause he has money. Many women at that time would be encouraged with Charlotte decision and explanation but not Elizabeth, she had dreams of finding someone to fall in love with not pass her life along with.
Elizabeth stood for all what Is pure and morally right In Pride and Prejudice. She did not yield to the social standard that every women needs to find a man In order not just to be happy but more Importantly, to live. Surprised by Charlotte acceptance to Mr… Collins proposal, Elizabeth knew she could never marry a man to whom she Is not fond of at all. This comes up again when Mr… Dared proposes to Elizabeth and she denies him too because, she can not stand the type of man that she heard Mr…
Dared Is. An overlying presence of Mrs… Bennett does not help the cause Elizabeth is fighting for, as Mrs… Bennett desperately wants Elizabeth to see that she will not amount to anything and she needs a man who could provide for her. That he/she is socially ordered to do. Elizabethan foundation of marriage is one others ought to follow however, it is understood that it was not the norm for that time so, Elizabeth was in a constant struggle in the novel to break out of this constant cycle.
Ironically, the character that wants marriage to be about love gets ridiculed by others in the novel for asking too much. Marriage was an essential aspect for the upper class in England. Rich men were always thought to be married with women but, there was more riding on the women to find, more like hunt for the “right” man to stabilize their lives. The perception of marriage is much different from what we see marriage is today, which is similar to Elizabethan perspective. Happiness in marriage should be found by love not by material items or personal gains.
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