“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen Essay Sample
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Introduction of TOPIC
“Pride and Prejudice” was called “First Impressions” before it was finally published in 1813 under the title “Pride and Prejudice”. The novel was written in the early 19th century at a time when social class and status determined a person’s lifestyle and marriage partner. Marriage played the most important part in the life of women and men alike and a mother’s main aim was to marry off her daughters to rich, eligible men and a man’s was to marry a suitable wife. This was important because if the father died, the married daughters would have to be able to support the mother and family financially.
Women could achieve a higher social status through marriage. The family’s social status would rise if the daughter married into a higher status. If a man married a lower status woman, he would probably become outcast from his family, or if he married into a higher status he would become richer. Men would normally marry in the social class they were born into unless they made more money or got a promotion in their job. The social ranks that could be found in the gentry class are baronets, ladies, knights and dames, squires, gentlemen and ladies. Lady Catherine De Bourgh was a lady and Mr Darcy was a very rich gentleman.
The gentry class were normally land owners, who did not depend on manual labour for their income. A baronet was a title that could only be inherited and was created in 1611 supposedly to, fill the gap between peers and knights. To receive the title of a knight or a dame it must be awarded by the Queen and was not hereditary. In the 1800’s the term lady or gentleman had a determined class meaning and they were thought to be at the lower end of the status ladder. A man could become a gentleman if the source of his income was unearned, such as if it was a revenue from investments or rents, or if the money is earned but not as a pay rate, such as a clergyman. There were four reasonably acceptable professions for a man in the gentry: the navy, the army, the law or the church. These professions were not seen to be a job but conceived to be a service to the country therefore, the men were not participating in manual labour.
However, a man from the gentry could not join the average ranks of the army or the navy but they would have had to pay to buy an officer’s commission such as Mr Wickham did, or they could not become a law clerk like Mr Phillips, who was not considered a gentleman, or receive unbeneficed curacies like Mr Collins did. Lady’s did not work and, if the family were in financial difficulty, it would not completely damage a lady’s status if she became a governess or a lady’s companion. There is quite a fine line between what makes a man a gentleman or a yeoman. A yeoman would own land but often work the fields himself, unlike Mr Bennet, who owns land but does not participate in manual labour, so making him a gentleman. Mr Gardiner and Mr Bingley’s father have both become successful tradesmen, which has promoted them to the gentry and now they are gentlemen, as their work has been rewarded and the status achieved.
However, during Jane Austen’s life, it would have been highly unlikely that a working-class man could become a yeoman or a gentleman, but a lady in the gentry class may marry up into the aristocracy. In “Pride and Prejudice” Jane Austen refers to the gentry class mostly as this was the social class to which she was confined. The story is based upon marriage and the theme is of girls being married to eligible bachelors. This romantic story, therefore, has a deeper meaning beyond a “love story”. During the course of the novel, each character offers his or her own views of marriage and what they are willing to accept to live their life. Although they may not assert their own feelings outright, they hint at them when they talk of others’ marriages and engagements. Some will marry solely for love while others choose to marry for comfort.
Jane Austen manages to show just how important marriage is and how devoted mothers are in finding the right man for their girls. In the first page in the novel, where Mrs Bennet talks exclusively about a new man who has entered the neighbourhood. She sets the key theme “Mrs. Long says that Netherfield has been taken at last by a young man of large fortune from the north of England.” Also, Mrs Bennet gets straight to the point in saying that she wants one of her daughters to marry him, which was every mother’s aim in life,
“You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them” For “The business of her life was to get her daughters married”. From this Mrs Bennet is shown as a conceited woman “My dear you flatter me, I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now.” This shows Mrs Bennet as uncaring as she has not asked one of her girls if they want to marry and they have not even met the man. “A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!” Mrs Bennet’s feelings are those of the general public at that time and most mothers would think of their new son-in-law as property not family. Marriage was a way of life.
The first main relationship that Jane Austen presents is between Mr and Mrs Bennet. Most of their relationship is revealed in the opening chapter as Jane Austen uses dialogue to depict the relationship’s value. They do not seem to be able to withstand each other “”My dear Mr Bennet” said his wife “how can you be so tiresome”” This is why Mr Bennet likes to tease his wife, it shows that they do not have the same amount of intellect
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect of your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration for these twenty years past at least”. This shows that Mr Bennet does not get on well with Mrs Bennet, as he makes fun of her. Mrs Bennet always has an excuse for herself though “When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous.” Mrs Bennet would say herself that she had made a prudent marriage in the eyes of the public as she married Mr Bennet, who has an estate and a fair income of two thousand pounds a year.
Their characters are also completely opposite as Jane Austen describes Mr Bennet as “An odd mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice.” This also shows why the marriage between him and Mrs Bennet is a failure to some extent, as she is completely different in her character; “Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding” So Mrs Bennet did not understand her husband at all and this is why their marriage was not successful in Jane Austen’s eyes “And twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character” Their marriage was based on fleeting fancies and first impressions “Captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour….had married a woman of whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her.” Mrs Bennet, it seems, has, in addition, married for physical attraction with a prospect of financial security which made the match suitable. Because of their reasons for marriage, it is not a fulfilling relationship
Jane Austen likes to make this marriage an entertaining one with Mr Bennet’s quick-witted lines and Mrs Bennet’s uselessness. Mr Bennet tends to use his wit to relieve himself of his personal and emotional feelings towards Mrs Bennet. He uses sarcasm to cope with the feeling of misunderstanding that he receives from his wife. He does not try to make anything more of Mrs Bennet as he seems to feel the marriage’s damage is past repair. Mr Bennet likes to surprise people “He suddenly addressed her with ‘I hope Mr. Bingley will like it Lizzie’ this is another part of his character and he likes to impress and please people with a joke on them to please himself. ^^^
Later in the novel Mr Bennet’s reaction to Jane’s marriage is joyous as he is marrying of one of his prettiest girls to a wealthy man, as is Mrs Bennet, who rejoices in the marriage, “Oh! My dear, dear Jane, I am so happy.” Mr Bennet, however, is not so understanding at first to Lizzie Bennet’s choice of husband as he finds Mr Darcy disagreeable and unsuitable for his favourite daughter. He questions Elizabeth about her choice and seems content when he hears her truthful answer, “She did conquer her father’s incredulity, and reconcile him to the match”, and so with time Mr Bennet begins to like Mr Darcy and goes to pay many unexpected visits to Pemberly. Mrs Bennet, however, does not have any immediate problems with her daughters’ marriage to Mr Darcy and feels quite stunned
“Its effect was most extraordinary… Mrs Bennet sat quite still…unable to utter a syllable” However after a while Mrs Bennet does recover enough to say “Good gracious! Mr Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really true?”
Mr Bennet does not like Mr Wickham, who marries his youngest daughter Lydia because of the elopement, this is highly unexpected as at first he is more wary and cautious about the marriage, unlike Mrs Bennet
“No sentiment of shame gave a damp to her triumphs….the marriage of her daughter, which had been the first object of her wishes was now on the point of accomplishment.” Still, with time, Mr Bennet does not come round to the idea after Mr Wickham’s visit to Longbourn, following the marriage “He is a fine fellow…as ever I saw. He simpers and smirks and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him” Once again, in this quotation, we see Mr Bennet’s irony and sarcasm play a great role in the way he expresses himself. This is not surprising, as a while before Lydia returns to Longbourn, he says that he would not accept Mr Wickham into his household under any circumstances. His conclusions on the marriages of his three daughters though, are; “‘I admire all my three sons-in-law highly’, he says ‘Wickham, perhaps is my favourite but I think I will like your husband quite as well as Jane’s.'” There is in one way that Mr Bennet is like his wife, and that is the way he changes his mind on declaring his feelings. Jane Austen seems to feel that this was a marriage based on physical attraction and not much more. Mr Bennet is, yet again, being sarcastic on his view of their marriage.
The next relationship that the reader encounters is that of Mr Bingley and Miss Bennet (Jane) the eldest of the daughters. Jane is described by Mr Bingley on first appearances as “The most beautiful creature I ever beheld”. She is cautious in her opinions “Since Jane, united with the strength of feeling, a composure of temper and a uniform cheerfulness of manner, which would guard her from the suspicions of impertinent” and prefers to confess her emotions to Elizabeth Bennet only
“When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former who had been cautious of her praise of Mr Bingley before, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him”. This makes her seem quiet and withdrawn; however, she is a good natured, willing young woman who likes to think the best of everyone, as Elizabeth says to Jane:
“With your good sense, to be so honest and blind to follies” Mr and Mrs Gardiner even leave their four children under the care of Jane “Whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way – teaching them, playing with them and loving them.”
Jane would prefer to marry for love; however, because she is the oldest and by far the prettiest of all of the sisters, she is expected to marry well in the eyes of her family. In other words she is expected to marry for money so that the family will have a source of income if they fall on hard times. She seems to accept this and seems willing to oblige. She has a good humour and from this she reaps her rewards. The marriage to Mr Bingley is successful. She is married from Longbourn and she is married to a fairly rich man who could support the family if anything should happened. I think that she had everything that a woman of her age at that time could ever wish for. She has financial security and love, physical attraction to and she improves her and her family’s social status.
Mr Bingley is described by Jane to Elizabeth in one of their conversations as “Just what a young man ought to be…sensible, good humoured, lively….such happy manners!-so much ease, with such perfect good breeding” This also shows that status and good breeding can also be helpful when finding a marriage partner. Elizabeth describes him as “Handsome…..his character is thereby complete” Mr Bingley seems to want to marry for love; however, he is very easily swayed in his decisions and he would also like to impress his family. He is a sensible man with many good qualities about him. “Mr Bingley was good looking and gentleman like; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manner” Mr Darcy is one of Bingley closest friends and their characters are unlike “Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, ductility of his temper” Bingley also listens to anything Mr Darcy has to say to him and that is why, when he is in London, Mr Darcy pointes out that the connection between him and Jane must be severed and he complies.
Jane and Mr Bingley’s relationship is in Jane Austen’s eyes, very pleasing. Each seems to have the same intellectual abilities and their characters are very similar, with each being good humoured and willing to please. As we already know, Mrs Bennet likes to set up her daughters with eligible men and takes a grand opportunity when Jane is invited to dine at Netherfield with the Bingley sisters and finds that Mr Bingley will not be there. She makes Jane go in the rain on a horse so that she will become ill and have to stay. This shows that Mrs Bennet is scheming and would like to encourage the relationship of her daughter to an eligible man. This, however, does work and seems to light the fire of romance between the two as the reader finds out that Mr Bingley likes to dote on Jane when they meet at Netherfield “He then sat down by her and scarcely talked to anyone else” This shows that if they did get married they would have a good relationship as they would be able to find things to talk about and they get on well; however, it could still be only first impressions that they were acting upon. Mr Bennet likes to describe the pair as follows “Your tempers are no means unlike” and
“You are each of you so complying, that nothing will be resolved on, so easy, that every servant will cheat you, and so generous, that you will always exceed your income”.
Jane and Mr Bingley’s courtship is fairly long as they first meet at the Meryton Assembly and get to know each other whilst dining together and dancing, which was one of a few ways that a young man and woman could get to become intimate. Jane and Bingley do learn to appreciate each others’ company as they both frequently think about each other. Once Mr Bingley had proposed, he declares to Jane that he always loved her and did not stop thinking about her. This shows that they do have a good foundation for marriage I think and that they are well suited to each other in terms of moral values and expectations of marriage. There is definitely mutual respect for each partner, in spite of this though, they are not suited in social status.
Miss Bingley believes that her brother could marry better, also she believes that Jane is using Mr Bingley to marry for financial security. This theory is also backed up by Mr Darcy at first, as he feels that Jane does not show much interest in Bingley as a person; however he does not know her temperament as Charlotte Lucas clearly points out to Elizabeth “Remember Eliza, that he does not know her disposition as you do”. Elizabeth highly approves of the marriage, in declaring that Jane never stopped loving Bingley just as he did not stop loving her. Jane and Bingley do not really express any negative thoughts about their relatives’ marriages but they do rejoice in the match of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. I think that Jane Austen, like Elizabeth, does approve of this marriage as the couple marry for love, which is what Jane would have liked to do. Also they are suited to each other. She does not, however, go into great detail about the courtship and their conversations.
Charlotte Lucas describes herself as “not romantic” Charlotte Lucas’ views on marriage are highly defined and outlined. For when she talks to Elizabeth about Jane’s connection with Mr Bingley she shows her attitude towards marriage in general.
“If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him” This shows that Miss Lucas feels that a woman of Jane’s age should not conceal her feelings “In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels.” She believes that Jane should show more than she feels so that she can make sure she marries Mr Bingley although at this stage in their relationship they do not know each other very well. Charlotte believes that you should “secure” a man; she also says that “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance” Charlotte finally marries Mr Collin’s for financial security “I ask only a comfortable home”. She is worried about being ‘left on the shelf’ as she was getting too old to be married. She does not have a high expectation of marriage, probably because she was once poor but now her father has been knighted she still feels that she has no chance of marrying well. I believe that deep down she would dream of marrying for love, as she seems to be very wistful about the whole feeling of love and does not condemn its beauty.
Mr Collins is a senseless man with only a great desire to please his patroness, Lady Catherine De Bourgh:”Mr Collins was not a sensible man, and the defiance of nature had been but little assisted by education of society, the greatest part of his life having been spent under the guidance of an illiterate and miserly father.”
This shows that because Mr Collins did not have a well rounded up-bringing. He has become less of a person due to this and people do not want to socialise with him as he does not know how to speak to people. He offends Mr Phillips at first but then realises his mistakes and rights them. He only wants to get married at first to please Lady Catherine but soon warms to the idea of living with a companion “she had even consended to advise him to marry as soon as he could, provided he chose with discretion”. His reasons for marriage are that he thinks his situation in life and society could be used to entice the ladies “I am happy on every occasion to offer those little delicate compliments which are always acceptable to ladies”.
He feels that because of his connections, his authority as a clergy man and his status, he is a great marital catch: “as a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families”. Mr Collins is expressive in praise “Mr Collins was eloquent in her praise” and always likes to make his intentions clear “but I can assure the young ladies that I have come prepared to admire them” From this it is obvious that he came to Longbourn to find a wife. He is also persistent in finding a partner as he shows affections for every girl he encounters, and he wants to please Lady Catherine and set a good example for the parish. Mr Collins would like to be accepted into society where he is staying and tries very hard by joining a card game at Mrs Philips’ and wishing he could sing. Mr Bennet does not think very highly of him “His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped”
When Mr Collins arrives at Longbourn he is primarily in search of a wife and his first ‘victim’ is Jane Bennet. Mrs Bennet soon distracts him from Jane as she believes that Jane is soon to be engaged to Mr Bingley. Mr Collins immediately moves his intentions to Elizabeth. This shows that he does not care for love in marriage as he gets over Jane so quickly. Elizabeth does not approve of Mr Collins much but her mother and father encourage his intentions “If he is disposed to make them any amends I shall not be the person to discourage him”
Elizabeth’s mother and father really only want to keep the house in the family as Mr Collins will take possession of it if Mr Bennet dies. When Mr Collins first proposes to Elizabeth she is highly annoyed and does not accept, however, when he proposes to Miss Lucas, she readily accepts and they are married. Once Elizabeth has rejected him he quickly moves his intentions onto Charlotte. This shows he has little feelings for his marriage partner “and though his pride was hurt, he suffered in no other way” Finally, he has done one thing in his life right and has fulfilled Lady Catherine’s wish. He has a wife and has set a good example to the parish.
The couple’s courtship is short and unfulfilling as Charlotte intends not to know the person before she marries so she would not know his defects and so that Mr Collins will not find out her disposition because if he found it unpleasing then there would be no marriage “It is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life”. They are not in love, Mr Collins wanted a wife and he got one, and Miss Lucas wanted finical security and she got it. The couple have no foundation for a good marriage at all and they are not suited in character or intelligence, Mr Collins is a stupid man and Miss Lucas is intelligent and quiet. Their expectations of marriage and their social status are nevertheless quite similar. Their moral values are quite contradictory. Charlotte is happy with the marriage: “considering Mr Collins’ character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is fair.” Once they are married Elizabeth is invited to visit them.
She finds that the couple spend much of the time apart from each other, with Mr Collins occupied in the garden and Charlotte in a parlour. This shows that once the couple were married they did not act like a pair in love. They spent a lot of time apart and had no real relationship in the eyes of Jane Austen. The connection is approved of by Lady Catherine and Charlotte Lucas’ parents. The couples other acquaintances find the match quite unsuitable, mainly Elizabeth, who is quite taken aback: “Engaged to Mr Collins! My dear Charlotte,-impossible!” and she finds it hard to accept “It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable match”, Elizabeth finds it very hard to understand Mr Collins “the strangeness of Mr Collins’ making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing of is being now accepted” The pair do respect each other and they both have their own space but they do not seem to know any more about each other than when they first met.
In Elizabeth’s eyes the marriage is highly unsuitable and is for all the wrong reasons. She feels that Mr Collins reasons for marriage are insufficient and that Miss Lucas, now Mrs Collins, is making an enormous mistake. Jane Austen agrees and shows this by describing what Mr Collins does when he is at home in the parsonage and their reasons for marriage. The marriage is based on tolerance and compromise there is no happiness concerning love, only happiness concerning each person’s situation of security.
Lydia Bennet is the youngest of the five Bennet sisters. Lydia’s character is treated comically but a serious point is made with her at the same time. She represents the women who cannot afford the luxury ideals tha
t her heroine has. She is not worldly wise; also she is involved in an elopement which ends up in an
Lydia is a flimsy creature and superficial in her judgement as is shown in Chapter 39 where Lydia and Kitty go to meet Elizabeth and Maria on their return journey from Huntsford. They are meant to treat them to lunch but instead flittered their money away on pointless purchases :”but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours……..I have brought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not” she judges people by their surfaces and dress code “you cannot imagine how well he looked”. She has a superficial attitude to all people. She does not relate to anyone in their society and Jane Austen sees this as trivial like to emphasis her particular characteristic; criticism. For instance she criticizes Miss King’s appearance, “such a nasty little freckled thing” and sticks-up for Mr Wickham “Wickham is safe……she is a great fool for going away”.
Lydia is very forthright and critical of people. She does not believe in hiding her feelings. She has opposing feelings about marriage, it seems, as she does like to dance with all the officers and also she feels that she does not want to end up like her older sisters “how ashamed I should be of not being married before three and twenty” She does like the idea of marriage as she would rule over her sisters as she is last in the line at the moment and thinks it would be fun to rise above them “How I would like to be married before any of you”. She likes to socialise and likes to make a fool of herself. Elizabeth is harsh in her judgement of her sister “Lydia’s unguarded and imprudent manner….exuberant spirits” Lydia is also known for leading men on: “be the most determined flirt………..let me see the list of pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia’s folly”. She is highly excited about going to Brighton and imagines it as having “tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and gay, and dazzling with scarlet”.
Lydia is also determined to be the most pretty and beautiful girl there and to be the centre of attention showing she has no real moral values and is a very shallow girl “She saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once” This shows that she is not ready for marriage as she does not she herself settling down. She can see herself, however, coming home with a husband and becoming more important than her sisters as she has always been the youngest and the least noticed girl in the family. Elizabeth pleads with her father not to let Lydia go to Brighton, it falls on deaf ears and Mr Bennet is irresponsible in letting Lydia go and wants rid of her “we shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton” Mr Bennet also finds that this has little affect on himself and disposes of the matter with a light air “Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances” This also shows that Mr Bennet is aware of her manner and disposition so he has no defence in which to say that he was not rash. Lydia is also not expected to become anything much as Mr Bennet does not expect much of her.
Lydia’s elopement in chapter 46 is very worrying for the family: “most unexpected and serious nature” and the reader sees the scandal unfold through the eyes of Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth first hears the news whilst on holiday with the Gardiners, who are her Aunt and Uncle. She finds two letters from her sister. Whilst reading them Mr Darcy imposes on her. This acts as a catalyst for the feelings between her and Mr Darcy and is a starting point for their relationship. It could be said that Lydia’s elopement brought them together as Mr Darcy has finally found something that he can do for Elizabeth. Jane Austen has used the negative features, such as naivety in Lydia’s case, of one character to bring together two others. The situation finds Mr Darcy showing his affection for Elizabeth by sorting out the problem himself and taking responsibility for the financial side. Elizabeth’s attitudes towards the elopement make the reader understand the seriousness of the situation she and her family have found themselves in.
When Elizabeth arrives home she finds that Lydia has written to Mrs Forster. This letter shows how naive Lydia is as she tells Mrs Forster to say sorry to a young boy “Pray make my excuses to Pratt for not keeping my engagement”, and her attitude towards marriage, which is that she will be so proud when she signs her name and that she will make all of her sisters jealous “you need not send word to Longbourn of my going….for it shall make the surprise greater when I sign my name Lydia Wickham.” Also she thinks she’s gone to Gretna Green which is in Scotland and was one of the only places that couple such as Lydia and Wickham could go to get married without parental consent.
She has found herself in her first real relationship with someone and thinks it is true love “for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel” this shows that she is overwhelmed by him and she feels this is the one she loves and Mr Wickham has obviously done well to persuade her that he returns such feelings. Lydia marries for a notion of love. In Elizabeth eyes this showed that Darcy’s account of the elopement with Miss Darcy and Wickham was true and now Elizabeth finds it very hard to accept the news. You do end up feeling sorry for Lydia’s superficiality and that she thinks that her running away was all a joke. She is now shown as self indulged as she only thinks of her happiness when she will be married to Mr Wickham and not of the consequences her actions will have on her sisters.
In the end the family feel that the best way to disguise the elopement is to force an agreement with money to ensure that Wickham marries Lydia. Elizabeth feels that this is a terrible compromise as she dislikes Wickham so much that she feels he is a very unsuitable brother-in-law and that his character would taint the family’s already ruined reputation. She also feels for her younger sister as she believes that she would not like to be held into such a situation and she wishes that it would not happen to her and so from now on is a little more guarded in her feelings and more observant. She feels that it is now awful to be also involved with a man with such a lack of propriety and honesty. She is now the only one who is upset as the others are Relieved by the fact that the gossip of the elopement will be over soon and that they will now be able to say that they have a married sister.
Mrs Bennet is now in her element as she finds that she is about to marry off a daughter for the first time and her remarks are very ironic as a while ago she was saying to Mrs Phillips how she always knew how horrible Mr Wickham was; however, now she thinks that he is wonderful and a good man as he is taking one of her five girls “and too see dear Wickham too!”. Now there are some very strong contrasts in the attitude towards Lydia’s marriage between Mrs Bennet and Elizabeth. Mrs Bennet says “how merry we shall all be together when we meet and Elizabeth feels more like this “I do not particularly like your way of getting a husband” Elizabeth’s worried about her sister’s happiness and that she believes that Lydia will still want to flirt with all the officers still and will not understand that she has limits and responsibilities now.
She concludes by saying that she does not think that their situation in life will be very pleasing and she feels that it is a bad match that could have been avoided with care. She thinks that when Wickham’s charm has worn off, they will be left with bills as they would have been very extravagant with money. Lady Catherine De Bourgh does not also approve of their marriage and thinks that she can just accuse Elizabeth outright and be very rude to her “your younger sisters infamous elopement .I know it all; that the young mans marrying her, was a patched-up business, at the expense of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be by nephew’s sister?”
Jane Austen feels that this is not a good match as she rewards them in a punishing way. I say this because Lydia and Wickham eloped showing that they are irresponsible, mainly Wickham as he is older and supposed to be sensible, and also because of their elopement Jane Austen has rewarded them with a lifetime commitment to someone who neither of them love. Jane Austen seems to make this resemble Mr and Mrs Bennet’s relationship values as they married for fleeting love however they did not have the elopement as Lydia and Wickham do.
Mr and Mrs Gardiner are an example to the Bennet girls of a good healthy marriage. They present a better example to the girls than their own mother and father who argue and are not similar in anything. They are happy and content and they seemed to have married for love. They finish each others sentences and are very comfortable with each other. Their have a romantic bond between them and mutual love respect and happiness. Mr and Mrs Gardiner seem to have the same moral attitudes and think the best of a situation, such as the elopement situation, as they try to console Lizzie and they want to do the right thing for the family, when Mr Gardiner immediately offers to be of assistance to his family.
During the novel they are not always in each other’s company, when Mr Gardiner goes to London with Mr Bennet, and this shows that they can support themselves and are independent. Their characters are very well suited “Mr Gardiner whose manners were easy and pleasant encouraged her communicativeness by his questions and remarks” This also shows that they are interested in what they had to say to one another and that they talk and discuss things which is all part of a good marriage foundation. They find each others company pleasing as they go on holiday together and they enjoy each others company. They are both analogous and dissimilar at the same time, as they both enjoy the countryside, they take Lizzie to and they go back to the place where Mrs Gardiner was born; however, Mr Gardiner when asked by Darcy admits to enjoying fishing and Mrs Gardiner is a keen gardener as she goes to Pemberley to look around the gardens.
Elizabeth Bennet, is her father’s favourite child “though I must throw in a good word for my Lizzie” shows that Mr Bennet dotes on his second child and that he feels that the rest of his children resemble their mother in their stupidity: “they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Elizabeth has something more of a quickness than her sisters” She is a quick witted young woman who is willing to speak her mind. Because of this, she can come over as very rude and narrow-minded; however, those who know her think the better of her.Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, is a very close friend of hers and is Elizabeth’s sole confidant. They are very secure with one another “Elizabeth felt Jane’s pleasure”
Elizabeth’s views on marriage are made very clear in a conversation with Miss Lucas, her “intimate friend”, with whom she gets on very well. They are talking about Jane and Mr Bingley’s match and Miss Lucas feels that Jane should go against her nature and show more affection than she feels ” when she is secure of him, there will be leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses” however Elizabeth disagrees and feels that Jane should be who she really is. This is saying that Elizabeth feels that you should show no false affection and that a man should see you for who you really are. Elizabeth also believes that love is the foundation for marriage and that marrying for money or financial and social security is not acceptable “where nothing is in question but the desire of being well married; and if I were determined to get a rich husband, or any husband, I dare say I should adopt it”.
She also says what she would like to see in a man that she married “He is just what a young man ought to be, sensible, good humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners…perfect good breeding, he is also handsome which a man ought likewise to be” this shows that she cares about all aspects of the man’s character that she would like to marry and it shows that she may have a long acquaintance with the man before she chooses to marry so that she can get to know him before she makes her choice. Elizabeth’s motives for marriage are romantic love and happiness, not security and well-being. She is looking for a friend as well as a husband that she feels she could spend time with for the rest of her life. Because she marries Mr Darcy I know that she married for love. Although her family despise him, she still marries him, and although she would not be liked by Mr Darcy’s family she still gets married because she loves him and he makes her happy. She is told how she would be rejected by his family even before she was to be engaged to him by Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Mr Darcy’s Aunt “You will be censured, slighted and despised, by everyone connected with him” so why would it matter to her now?
Elizabeth does approve of Jane and Mr Bingley’s marriage as she feels that they are suited for each other “they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of felling and taste between her and himself” and is very happy when the news finally reaches her: “Elizabeth honestly and heartily expressed her delight in the prospect of their relationship.” Elizabeth does not approve of Lydia’s and Mr Wickham’s relationship “and they must marry! Yet he is such a man!” She feels that she would not want marriage to be forced upon her by her family or acquaintances as she would want to marry for true love not for ‘puppy love’. She also does not entirely approve of Mr Collins and Miss Lucas’ marriage and is very shocked when she hears about it as she feels that they are so unsuited for her as Charlotte is intelligent and Mr Collins is so stupid: “and to the pang of a friend disgracing conviction that is was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.” She feels for Charlotte as she thinks that she will never be happy in the marriage she is in; however, Charlotte seems to be thankful to be married at all. This shows that Charlotte married for reasons that are completely the opposite of the ones that Elizabeth wants to marry for.
Mr Darcy’s motive for his marriage was at first duty, as he was promised from birth to Miss Anne De Bourgh, and it was his aunt’s wish “Mr Darcy is engaged to my daughter….. the engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended for each other. It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of hers”. However, ultimately he decides to marry for love. As he marries Elizabeth who is of a lower social status and she has little money and no family connections to proffer. Also, at the time when ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was written, they were all the things that made a suitable match in the eyes of Mr Darcy’s family.
Mr Darcy, it is thought, is a very proud and conceited man :”the shocking rudeness of Mr Darcy” and was very critical but knowledgeable “Darcy was clever…Darcy was continually giving offence” . He feels that it would be an insupportable idea to stand up with anyone who is in a lower social status than himself as he feels that that would ruin his reputation “at such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable” He would like to be acquainted with women who are established in his social circle “a collection of people in whom he had felt the smallest interest, and from none received either attention or pleasure.”
He does, however, notice Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly but I think that because of her low connections and Jane’s low connections, he thinks that he should show no interest in either of them as he would be lowering his standard “Miss Bennet he acknowledged to be pretty, but she smiled to much…….she is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me” Also he thought that Elizabeth was pretty but would not show his real feelings to her “Mr Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty” This shows that pride got in the way of love and that was why he could not admit to her beauty. Also when at the Meryton Assembly he had already made a reputation for himself of being the most reserved and rich man there ever was “Everybody is disgusted with his pride”. Mrs Bennet did not approve of Mr Darcy’s behaviour to her daughter either and made this very clear in a number of occasions throughout the novel “for he is such a disagreeable man that it would be a misfortune to be liked by him” However, Mr Darcy’s housekeeper at Pemberley found him quite the opposite :”he is the best landlord and the best master…….there is nothing that he would not do for her”
Elizabeth Bennet gets her first marriage proposal from Mr Collins. He is an obtuse man with little intellectual ability. He is dedicated to Lady Catherine De Bourgh who is a snobbish woman with a frail child. He thinks that he should take all of her words as if they were the Ten Commandments and when she says that he should get married for the well being of the church, and to set a good example he does. When he decides to come to Longbourn, Elizabeth is quite intrigued to find out what he is like, and what his interests are. However, she soon finds out that he only came to Longbourn to get a wife and as he is their cousin, he will inherit Longbourn when Mr Bennet dies, so, in view of this he feels he is doing the Bennet’s a favour in marrying one of their daughters. Once he is warned off Jane, he comes immediately to Lizzie and quickly makes her a marriage proposal. She declines. This shows that she is strong minded as she could have married Mr Collins and made the family very happy as they would not have to worry about being turned out when Mr Bennet dies. This would have meant that Mrs Bennet would finally have married off one of her five daughters. She thinks the idea of marriage to such a man is ludicrous and feels that he cannot make her happy
“You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who could make you so.-Nay, were your friend Lady Catherine to know me, I am persuaded she would find me in every respect ill qualified for the situation.” This quotation also shows that Elizabeth has very strong moral values and believes in what she says and wants to make her intentions clear so as not to lead him on, as so she would not have to marry him as she says that Lady Catherine would not approve of her, and in doing this, she has made Mr Collins think of who he is choosing to be his wife.
Maybe he might withdraw his proposal now he has realised that Elizabeth is not suitable for the position. She will only marry for her own marital wishes and not to make anyone else happy, where as Charlotte Lucas wants to relieve her family of her, and also this will mean that Charlottes family will no longer have to support her financially. Elizabeth feels that to accept his proposals would be going against everything she ever believed in “but to accept them is absolutely impossible” She was also, for a short time, quite in favour of marrying Mr Wickham. She greatly admired him, and he told her many lies. He was an agreeable man on first impressions; however, first appearances can be deceiving, as Elizabeth found out. Mr Wickham was a liar and ended up being involved in two alleged elopements, one with Elizabeth’s sister, and one with Miss Darcy. Mr Darcy finally took pains in correcting her view on the true nature of Mr Wickham.
Elizabeth, on first seeing Mr Darcy, thinks him very proud after their meeting where he says to Bingley “she is not handsome enough to tempt me” This made her put up her guard “Elizabeth remained with no cordial feelings towards him” and from then on she has laid aside a part in her heart to only despise of Mr Darcy. When she goes to stay at Netherfield while her sole confidante, her older sister Jane, was ill she finds him even more patronising and displeasing. However, in the time she spent at Netherfield, I believe that Mr Darcy seemed to start caring about her
“She left Elizabeth to walk by herself. The path just admitted three. Mr Darcy felt their rudeness and immediately said – “This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue.”” This shows that Mr Darcy had already started caring about Elizabeth and that he felt that his company were being rude unnecessarily. Mr Wickham did not help when he told his side of the story about his first elopement with Miss Darcy, and this made Elizabeth even more wary and hateful towards Mr Darcy and his family. She thought him to be even more arrogant and conceited. When she does first speak to Mr Wickham before he has told her his side of the story she already made up her mind of his character. “I think him very disagreeable”. This shows that she has not taken the time to get to know him and this is probably one of her characters only faults is that she makes her assumptions on first impressions.
Mr Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship never really has a beginning but Elizabeth says “I believe I must date it from my first seeing his grounds a Pemberley” From this we can see that she has inherited her father’s sarcasm. Mr Darcy could not ever remember the exact moment when he first realised he loved her either “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun”
This shows that he does feel very affectionately for Elizabeth and that it is real love and natural as he never even felt it coming on so he must think of it as normality to love her. I personally think that Mr Darcy felt his first tinge of love when he was at a dance and he kept looking over at Elizabeth when she was talking with Charlotte about Jane’s attachment to Mr Bingley.
“He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others. His doing so drew her notice. It was at Sir William Lucas’s, where a large party were assembled” This shows that he is interested in her and he is following an example set by Mr Bingley as he was conversing with Jane and Mr Darcy may have thought that that might be the way to get to know Elizabeth. The next time that they meet is at Netherfield at the ball that Mr Bingley holds. She is not very happy that Mr Wickham did not turn up and this disillusions her normally high spirits. Mr Darcy asks her to dance and she grants it without knowing what she is doing
“She found herself suddenly addressed by Mr Darcy, who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him.” I think that this was another catalyst in their relationship as dancing was the only time that young couples could become intimate without arousing suspicion. This meant that Darcy had found a way to get to speak to Elizabeth and she had accepted him, which raises his spirits. Their conversation is a lively one whilst they dance. She is very playful with her words “‘Both’ replied Elizabeth archly” this shows that Mr Darcy is now encountering the real Elizabeth and unlike Charlotte’s warning and persuasive hints to be as she would and tempt Mr Darcy in matrimony “Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper to not be a simpleton and allow her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man of ten times his consequence”, she is being herself and shows her dislike for his temperament.
The time after they meet at the Parsonage. Mr Darcy, himself personally calls on her and the Collinses while he is staying at Rosings Park with his Aunt. This is a very big surprise as the Collinses do not normally get such a personal visit from him and, as Charlotte points out he must have come for just one reason “My dear Eliza he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way” this shows that Charlotte, no matter how she feels about marriage, is happy when she finds out that Mr Darcy’s in love with Elizabeth and also it is she that notices love in the first place when she married for security. Mr Darcy comes to see Elizabeth and maybe he is thinking along the same lines as Charlotte. He might be falling in love with Elizabeth. Why else would he have paid her such great attention in coming to visit her when he got to Rosings?
He could have waited until they dined together at Rosings with the rest of the party assembled. Mr Darcy makes his first proposal whilst at Rosings. Elizabeth was still not in favour of him as she believes that he is the problem with Mr Wickham. She shows her emotions outwardly “she answered him with cold civility”. She is even more outraged when he does propose and tells her of his feelings. She does not expect this as he has always been so cold and insufferable towards her :”Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression”. Mr Darcy did find it hard to say what he felt and had been hostile with his emotions, this shows that he was a compassionate man and was willing to lay aside his family connections to be with her. “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how much I ardently I admire and love you”
However, Elizabeth still feels that he thought she is inferior to him and that he knows it and although he is willing to ignore his family’s wishes, she feels he is being rude and ignorant asking her to marry him after the way he had treated her in the past “why with so evident a design in offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character'”. She feels that he has a cheek coming to her and expressing such thoughts that undermined any that she has for him. Although she did not like him, she is grateful for the affection that he shows so ostensibly for her. “In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment as such a mans affections” She also finds in this moment to ask why he had detached Jane from Mr Bingley at such a time when they were in love. She finds him insupportable and he quits the house, having, he thought, ruined all chances that he would ever have to express his love to her again.
Mr Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter, explaining his reasons for splitting up Jane and Mr Bingley “she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment.” Also he explains the state of affairs with Mr Wickham. Elizabeth finds herself in a difficult situation. She only told Jane about her thoughts and also that of the marriage proposal as she feels that her mother would be even more resentful of her now that she has had a better offer and still she has not taken it because of her strong-mindedness.
Elizabeth next sees Mr Darcy at Pemberley when she goes touring with Mr and Mrs Gardiner, her aunt and uncle. They are great role models for the Bennet girls as they are content with one another and happy lively and love. They married for all the right reasons unlike Mr and Mrs Bennet. They persuade Elizabeth to go to see Pemberley with them and Elizabeth does feel that she has no duty to call there as she had turned down an offer of marriage from the owner. Elizabeth, however, does go and enjoys it until Mr Darcy turns up and she feels that she was more prepared for this meeting.
This may be because she has changed her views on his disposition slightly since reading his letter. She is also very proud to introduce Mr and Mrs Gardiner as she feels they are worthy of him “it was consoling, that he should know that she had some relations for whom there was no need to blush” This must mean that she is embarrassed by her family and her connections, as would it seem, was Mr Darcy, who feels that Mr Bingley’s relations were not very kind to Elizabeth when she was at Netherfield. Elizabeth is surprised at the turn in Mr Darcy’s countenance and this was another reason why she started to fall in love with him. She is now beginning to see the side of Mr Darcy that Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper, sees. There was no pride or selfishness in the way that he took Mr and Mrs Gardiner around his property. He also asks Elizabeth if he could introduce her to his sister. This shows that Mr Darcy is proud of Elizabeth and that he has obviously told his family of her which shows that he thinks fondly about her.
They are introduced and Miss Darcy is surprising as Elizabeth though she would be highly strung, like her brother is or used to be. They are invited to dine at Pemberley and the invitation is accepted. While Elizabeth visits Pemberley, Mr Darcy and she become further acquainted and I believe that she grows to admire and approve of him whilst there. She wants to know him better “she wished, she feared that the master of the house might be among them; and whether she wished or feared it most, she could scarcely determine”
The elopement with Mr Wickham and Lydia is another catalyst in their relationship as Mr Darcy has found a way to show his affection outwardly for Elizabeth. Elizabeth then finds herself felling annoyed because she has told Mr Darcy of what has happened and now she fears that she will be discriminated upon by him for having such relations. Conversely, Mr Darcy sorts out the problem, he give Wickham ten thousand pounds, showing his love for Elizabeth.
Elizabeth gets a surprise a while after as Lady Catherine de Bourgh comes to visit her. She is very severe in her accusations and hurts Elizabeth’s pride that she has in her family. She has travelled a long way just to cut any connections which Elizabeth has never heard of about Elizabeth marrying Mr Darcy. Elizabeth, unlike her usual self, does not immediately contradict and correct Lady Catherine but she also does not say that she is to be married. This shows that she is wondering whether this is true and also this shows that she does have feeling for Mr Darcy as she normally has no predicament in saying the worst of anyone to their face, let alone to their family. Mr Darcy visits a while after. He says that because of the fact that she did not scrutinise him in-front of Lady Catherine that he had hope that she had changed her feeling towards him. “I knew of your disposition to be certain, that, had you been absolutely irrevocably decided against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine, frankly and openly” Elizabeth openness has again let her down because he says that she would have openly abused him. Elizabeth is now feeling a little more compassionate towards Mr Darcy “I assure you that I have been most heartily ashamed of it” Elizabeth says this when she is talking about her reproof that she spoke of to Mr Darcy when he first told her of his love for her.
She finally tells Jane that she is engaged to Mr Darcy. Jane disbelieves her on the grounds of dislike on both sides of the relation ship “I know how much you dislike him” In the end, Jane does admit that it was talked about between her and Bingley “Nothing could give either Bingley or myself more delight. But we considered it, we talked of it as impossible” Mrs Bennet is even more shocked although unlike Mr Bennet, she is not worried about her daughter, she is more excited about the money and fortune which she will inherit “Dear, dear Lizzie. A house in town.
Everything that is charming! Three daughters married! Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me? I shall go distracted.” Mr Bennet is very worried at first about the choice that Elizabeth has made as he believed that she disliked him as much as he did “Lizzy…what are you doing? Are you out of you senses, to be accepting this man? Have you not always hated him?” He does however accept her decision with a degree of civility “I have no more to say. If this be the case, he deserve you, I could not have parted with you, my Lizzie, to anyone less worthy” Their relationship was not looked upon kindly by everyone as Lady Catherine took her moment in stating her displeasure with the match even before Mr Darcy made his intentions clear “To be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family” This shows that Lady Catherine is a very posh, aristocratic lady whose concerns of marrying off her daughter to an eligible man were not so different from Mrs Bennet and she, like Mrs Bennet, would go to great lengths to be sure of the engagement.
Mr Darcy and Elizabeth do suit each other as their characters complement each other. He is quieter but is clever, Elizabeth is bright and feisty. “Elizabeth’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again” They have a good foundation for marriage as they have the same moral values as they both married for love and their expectation of marriage was the same, except Elizabeth shows hers more openly than Mr Darcy. They are not matched in social status or financial situation although Elizabeth believes that they are of the same social class within reason “He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’ daughter; so far we are equal” I believe that they will have a good marriage consisting of mutual happiness and equality and respect for each other.
I think that Jane Austen approves highly of this match as they have been through some hard times, such as when Mr Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth, however, they recover and I personally think that Jane Austen is writing as if she would like to be Elizabeth. It is the match made in heaven with a perfect marriage. Jane Austen marries Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy as she feels they are in love. Elizabeth and Mr Darcy also have a similar character and complement each other in their wit and nerve in talking to each other about their faults. Also, this particular marriage shows that Austen does not believe that status should affect a relationship in any way as the pair get married; however, she does show that the social status did matter at first to Darcy “Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would be a punishment to stand up with” Jane Bennet and Mr Bingleys’ relationship is also seen as a good match, as, at the end of the novel, they are happy and contented. Once again, they complement each other in their temperament and moral values.