What is your response to the way love and marriages are presented in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen?


Pride and Prejudice was written in 1796-7 during the romantic period and was published in 1813, it is set between 1797 and 1815, in rural England when the agriculture society was changing into a modern industrial nation. Pride and Prejudice is about love and marriage, personal happiness, and amongst other things, status and reputation. Pride and Prejudice is a popular romantic novel, which Austen herself described as “rather too light and bright and sparkling”. It is about a clergyman, his wife and their five daughters that are on a “quest for true love and endless happiness in marriage”. The early eighteenth century world was structured, almost planned and controlled. Women were expected to marry for security and men were expected to marry to further their families’ status and expand their families’ estates.


Austen’s views on different subjects are told through Elizabeth Bennet, the main character and heroine in this novel. Austen herself never married and she was a great observer of relationships. She also made fun of the girls that only wanted clothes and men. Austen was both against and supportive of marriage in general as she shows us in this novel. She disapproved of some of the reasons why people get married, for example Charlotte for security and Lydia for excitement and lust, but she also shows that marriage is the perfect solution when two couples marry for love; Jane and Mr Bingley and Elizabeth and Mr Darcy.


Attitudes to marriage today are very different from the attitudes when Austen was writing her book. In the early nineteenth century it was standard for the majority of the population to marry and because women had no money of their own they had to marry to get financial gain and support. Now it is usual for women to work and have their own money, and fewer people are choosing to get married. Then people did not actually court, it did not matter how long they had known each other and once you were engaged you were to be married that week. These days people can court for years and never get married and when you are engaged you can marry at any time you like, not as soon as possible.


We know this book is about love and marriage because of the first sentence, in the first chapter, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This sentence offers a small draft of the whole plot, it relates to the search of “single, tall, handsome men in possession of a good fortune” by some of the female characters.


Mr and Mrs Bennet have a loveless relationship which was based on young lust. “A couple who were only brought together because passions stronger than virtues,” when they were young they were full of humour and lust, and as they grew old together all respect, regard, admiration and confidence for each other had gone, these factors were also what Austen felt a good marriage was based on. Mr Bennet feels a number of things. He feels that his wife does not understand him after all their time together, “the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.” He also thinks his wife, Mrs Bennet, is a joke and he finds her entertaining because of her lack of intellect. “Incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife,” he also felt that he raised his daughters right, but could not help his wife. Austen also demonstrates that as they are not compatible they are not able to parent well. They had an unsuitable marriage that sent the wrong message to their children, and it is also possible that their marriage caused Lydia to marry Wickham.


Mr Bennet’s experience of marriage is unhappy, he has a sarcastic and aloof attitude towards his family, he has a distinct lack of interest in family affairs and he is “tired” of his wife and teases her by not replying in the first chapter. Through Mr and Mrs Bennet, Austen warns us about marriages based on youth, beauty,