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Pride and Prejudice: Marriage for Money

19th century England had some serious social problems left over from the heyday of Royalty and Nobility. One of the most significant of these was the tendency to marry for money. In this basic equation, a person sought a spouse based on the dowry receivable and their allowance. This process went both ways; a beautiful woman might be able to snag a rich husband, or a charring handsome man could woo a rich young girl. In these marriages, money was the only consideration. Love was left out, with a feeling that it would develop as the years went by. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen comments that marriage in her time is a financial contract, where love is strictly a matter of chance. Lady Catherine states the fact that happiness in marriage is strictly a matter of chance. This holds true in the conception of marriage held in the novel. All of the marriages in the book formed under the bonds of money rather than the bonds of love end up unhappy or unsuccessful. The whole novel outlines attempts to dance around love for the combination of a wealthy person with an attractive person. The first line of Pride and Prejudice, “It is a universally acknowledged fact that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”, sets the tone for the rest of the novel. We interpret it to mean that a wealthy man either actively pursues a wife based on his knowledge that no one would turn down a wealthy suitor, or attractive women use their beauty to their advantage to attract a rich husband. Confident in his knowledge of his own wealth and magnificence, Darcy's less than romantic first proposal to Elizabeth is a good example of the first of these truths. Darcy marches into the room, and after stating all the reasons why a wealthy man such as himself should never marry a “ socially inferior” person such as Elizabeth, he proposes to her. He is totally confident in the knowledge that n...

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Pride and Prejudice: Marriage for Money. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:08, August 21, 2014, from