Marriage(also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that establishes rights and obligations between the spouses, between the spouses and their children, and between the spouses and their in-laws.The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures. It takes a considerable leap of the imagination for a woman of the 21st century to realise what her life would have been like had she been born 150 years ago. We take for granted nowadays that almost any woman can have a career if she applies herself. We take for granted that women can choose whether or not to marry. Condition of women in 19th century :-
we can say that Women of the 19th century had no choices for their marriage.Most lived in a state little better than slavery. They had to obey men, because in most cases men held all the resources and women had no independent means of subsistence. A wealthy widow or spinster was a lucky exception. A woman who remained single would attract social disapproval and pity. She could not have children or cohabit with a man: the social penalites were simply too high. Nor could she follow a profession, since they were all closed to women.Girls received less education than boys, were barred from universities, and could obtain only low-paid jobs. In the 19th century Britain women were expected to marry and have children. however, there was in fact a shortage of available men. Census figures for the period reveal there were far more women than men. There were three main reasons why women outnumbered men.
The mortality rate for boys was far higher than for girls; a large number of males served in the armed forces abroad and men were more likely to emigrate than women. By 1861 there were 10,380,285 women living in England and Wales but only 9,825,246 men. Most women had little choice but to marry and upon doing so everything they owned, inherited and earned automatically belonged to their husband.when a woman got married her wealth was passed to her husband. If a woman worked after marriage, her earnings also belonged to her husband. written into the marriage ceremony was a vow to obey her husband, which every woman had to swear before God as well as earthly witnesses. The idea was that upper and middle class women had to stay dependent on a man: first as a daughter and later as a wife.
Not until the late 20th century did women obtain the right to omit that promise from their wedding vows. According to Jane Austen :- “Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony”– Jane Austen In Jane Austen’s time, there was no real way for young women of the “genteel” classes to strike out on their own or be independent.Professions, the universities, politics, etc. were not open to women. Few occupations were open to them — and those few that were (such as being a governess, i.e. a live-in teacher for the daughters or young children of a family) were not highly respected, and did not generally pay well or have very good working conditions. Therefore most “genteel” women could not get money except by marrying for it or inheriting it (and since the eldest son generally inherits the bulk of an estate, as the “heir”, a woman can only really be a “heiress” if she has no brothers).And unmarried women also had to live with their families, or with family-approved protectors — it is almost unheard of for a genteel youngish and never-married female to live by herself, even if she happened to be a heiress.
When a young woman leaves her family without their approval (or leaves the relatives or family-approved friends or school where she has been staying), this is always very serious — a symptom of a radical break, such as running away to marry a disapproved husband, or entering into an illicit relationship (as when Lydia run away with Wickham.Therefore, a woman who did not marry could generally only look forward to living with her relatives as a `dependant’ (more or less Jane Austen’s situation), so that marriage is pretty much the only way of ever getting out from under the parental roof — unless, of course, her family could not support her, in which case she could face the unpleasant necessity of going to live with employers as a `dependant’ governess or teacher.
Some women were willing to marry just because marriage was the only allowed route to financial security.In Pride and Prejudice, the dilemma is expressed most clearly by the character Charlotte Lucas, whose pragmatic views on marrying are voiced several times in the novel: “Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.” She is 27, not especially beautiful (according to both she herself and Mrs. Bennet), and without an especially large “portion”, and so decides to marry Mr. Collins “from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment”.
Concept of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice :-
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice opens with the sentence, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” (5) revealing the most important concept of Jane Austen’s time: marriage. For the majority of the population, marriage was the goal and the center of everything. It was the reason girls were taught their social skills and mannerisms. Marriage was used as a tool in unite powerful families. It was used as a bargaining tool by fathers in matters of business.Until a female was married, her life’s goal was to get married. Afterwards, if she had daughters, it was her job to teach her daughter the same process to follow. In the midst of all these uses, love was rarely mentioned-at least not in its literal form. Unlike today’s said notion of only marrying for love, it was rare in practice in Jane Austen’s time. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen uses love as a main factor in marriage Elizabeth, while at the same time she presents several other views about marriage for various characters.During chapter one, Mrs. Bennet is prattling on about the new, wealthy bachelor that has moved nearby, and she is literally begging Mr. Bennet to visit him, showing how much it means to her to have her daughters married to a wealthy man.
At this time she knows absolutely nothing about him except his social station in life-and that is good enough to satisfy her. Her exasperated and overzealous behavior over Mr. Bennet’s refusing to visit the newcomer reveal just how silly she is over the entire matter of marriage. His humorous replies show how little regard he has for his wife and her whims. Mrs. Bennet dedicates the majority of her time trying place her daughters in what she thinks are “good matches.” The reader sees just how important marriage is to her when she says to her husband, “If I can but see one of my daughters happily settled at Netherfield, and all others equally married, I shall have nothing to wish for.” She excellently sums up her life.It is true that for the young ladies, besides their family, marriage was the only respectable way for them to survive economically. The older the females got, the more pressure they felt to marry. Elizabeth’s best friend, Charlotte Lucas, is older than the average bachelorette. Elizabeth greatly likes and admires her friend until she sees deeper into her character.
Elizabeth is abashed that Charlotte would marry such a pathetic, social climbing man as Mr. Wickham, just so that she can have economic and social security. Charlotte’s condescending to marry Mr. Wickham reveals that unlike Elizabeth, she views marriage as many of today would view a job: “will it provide economically for me?” Along with that and Wickham’s social acceptability, Charlotte is content to marry him. She may fancy love in the way that Elizabeth does, but she does not view it was something necessary to a marriage. One cannot blame Charlotte for her actions; it was simply the way she and many young ladies were taught to believe. Elizabeth, despite her mother’s reasons and views of marriage, desires to marry for love. In fact, she states that she will marry for no other reason than love. Therefore, when Darcy first proposes to her, she adamantly refuses. She by no means feels any love for him. In addition, during his proposal, instead of focusing on love and her attributes, he seems to make it a point of expressing how much he did not want to propose by saying to her about his proposal, ” In vain I have struggled…My feelings will not be repressed.” (185) Austen goes on to describe how Darcy elaborates in his proposal on “his sense of her inferiority-of its being a degradation (to marry her)…” (185).
The reader is lead to wonder about how Darcy could be so vain to think that he could put numerous insults in a proposal and still expect positive results. Elizabeth’s answer to this is simply that Darcy is too full of pride. When he says in his second proposal to Elizabeth, “My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever,” (346) he reveals that he knows he was wrong, and knows that she may still refuse him. At this point, Elizabeth’s feelings for Darcy have changed because of his letter of explanations, his courtesy towards her aunt and uncle, and his salvation of her sister’s reputation. She loves him, therefore she accepts his proposal. Charlotte Lucas, who basically married for money, turns out to be content with her life with Wickham. Jane and Elizabeth, who marry for love, end up very happy. Austen uses these outcomes to say that love should be the reason for marriage-not money.
She seems t imply that people must look deeper than status (Darcy’s case), money (Charlotte’s case), and first impressions (Elizabeth’s case) to find love. Even though she lived in a time when many motives and mannerisms were based on such things as class and reputation, Austen seems to usePride and Prejudice as a means of protest against the norms of the time. On the surface, marriage may look to be the silly motive Austen plays it to be, but upon closer inspection, it may be an excellent literal lesson, as well as a small application used to represent every situation of life.Jane Austen uses the relationships of the characters in Pride and Prejudice to accurately satirize the convention of marriage.Pride and Prejudice has the most weddings of any Jane Austen novel. The marriage of passion only: Lydia/Wickham and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. A little above that is the marriage of no passion and little affection: Mr. Collins / Charlotte Lucas and Mr. and Mrs. Hurst. Next comes the marriage of genuine affection and esteem: Bingley/Jane and Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. Then there’s the mother of all marriages, with affection, esteem, and passion (or, if you will, the stars and the moon): Darcy and Lizzy.