Throughout the book Pride and Prejudice (Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Macmillan, 1962.), focuses on the mother of the five Bennet girls, being only worried about finding a husband for every one of her daughters; Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (chapter 1 page 1). Through several marriages, this book shows the difference between marriage in the 18th century, compared to today. While today love is considered important, it could be described as a kind of deal in Pride and Prejudice.
A quote from this book that supports my thesis is when Caroline Bingley explains her idea of an accomplished woman, “A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages…” (chapter 8, page 27). Men were not just focused on woman being able to be good at these skills, but also beauty, they did not search for someone to love, but someone who would be presentable. An example of a man who did this is Mr.Bennet. He married Mrs. Bennet to follow the movement of marrying for appearances and skill level when it came to the different accomplishments Miss Bingley spoke of, instead, of because they were in love. Marriage was determined whether a woman would have the charm and skill to get a man who they could depend on; that is why it was a necessity for women to be accomplished rather than fall in love.
Another example in the text that shows that marriage is more business than pleasure is when Colonel Fitzwilliam explains to Elizabeth that marriage is based off of money. “…there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money.” (chapter 33 page 125). He says this because of the fact that he is not a very rich man, meaning that he would have to ask for a marrying price and so would others like him. Throughout the book, Jane Austen uses the dialogue between characters in the book to explain that marriage is like business. When reading this exact sentence, and the other’s cited in this essay, it could be understood why readers might be so angry at people who got married for reasons like this. Marriage should not be about the money, or how well they present to people, but because you a certain person so much you want to spend the rest of your life with them.
A final part in Pride and Prejudice where it describes marriage as an economical benefit is before the wedding between Lydia and Wickham. “But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue…” (chapter 50 page 209). Elizabeth says this because she knows this their relationship is a very selfish one, mainly because both of them married for completely different reasons. The flirty Lydia married because she actually did love Mr. Wickham, but he on the other hand married for the money. He would have never even thought about marrying her, if he hadn’t been offered money.