Marriage Theme in Austens Novel

Topics: Marriage, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet Pages: 11 (4566 words) Published: March 21, 2012
Essay, Custom Research Paper: Marriage in Jane Austen's Works Marriage in Austen's works is far from being mere union of two hearts, and each character involved is more or less concerned about such factors as wealth and social status, since they are part of a middle-class community in which comfort and happiness largely depend on material conditions. Marriage, in this sense, is not the simple advanced relation between a man and a woman, but "means a complete engagement between the marrying couple and society--that is, it means not only 'feelings' but 'property' as well. In many cases, marriage is even used as a tool to gain or secure personal and family interests, and sometimes Austen has completely taken romance out of the affair with her satirical pen. In the disguise of formal civilization " the hard, material and grim business of the marriage market is carried on at a primitive level. It is no wonder that many marriages in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are disclosed as a commercial deal. In Sense and Sensibility, it is very clearly revealed how the society has placed fortune above all in judging the value and practicality of a marriage. For example, although Willoughby is in love with Marianne, he chooses to marry a rich woman in order to obtain a large income and secure his comfort. Mrs. Jennings remarks with indignation, " is the oddest thing to me that a man should use such a pretty girl so ill! But when there is plenty of money on one side and next to none on the other, Lord bless you! They care no more about such things! Willoughby himself also confesses to Elinor repentantly, " My affection for Marianne, my thorough conviction of her attachment to me--it was all insufficient to outweigh that dread of poverty, or get the better of those false ideas of the necessity of riches, which I was naturally inclined to feel and expensive society had increased...". The " necessity of riches" is the primary creed for the "expensive society". Willoughby has accepted this rule, so he pursues money rather than love, and only when he is no longer short of money, does he start to think of love, " To avoid a comparative poverty which her affection and her society would have deprived of all its horrors, I have, by rasing myself to affluence, lost everything that could make it a blessing." As a follower of the middle class creed, Willoughby submits to the temptation of wealth of his own accord, while as defenders of the creed, conservative families often compel and even threaten sons and daughters into marriage for interests. Edward Ferras has some affection for Elinor, but the intimacy between them is strongly opposed by his family, for she has no good fortune. Meanwhile, Edward has been long in private engaged to Lucy Steele, a girl with lower status and less property than Elinor. When the secret comes to light, John Dashwood describes his mother's response as follows: "All that Mrs. Ferras could say to make him put an end to the engagement,..., was of no avail...His mother explained to him her liberal designs in case of his marrying Miss Morton; told him she would settle on him the Norfolk estate, which, clear of land tax, brings in a good thousand a year, offered even, when matters grew desperate, to make it twelve hundred; and in opposition to this if he still persisted in this low connection, represented to him the certain penury that must attend the match. His own two thousand pounds she protested should be his all; she would never see him again; and so far would she be from affording him the smallest assistance that if he were to enter into any profession with a view of better support, she would do all in her power to prevent his advancing in it." The mother first tries to persuade her son with material love, then lures him with a promise of material gain as long as he marries the rich Miss Morton, and finally threatens to deprive him of almost all his legacy and banish him from the family. The affection...
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