Women and Marriage in Pride and Prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice is a novel written by a woman about the role of women in the eighteenth century. At this point in time, women were not given much of a choice with what do to with their lives. They could either teach, although not very respectably, become an old maid, lead a life in prostitution, or get married. Most people decided to get married, because it is the most respectable of the choices, and also provided a way for women to get away from their families. Another main reason for marriage was to unite family fortunes and for the family to obtain greater access in the business world. .
The first line in the novel states, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife," (Austen 3). This is just foreshadowing that marriage is an immense theme in the story. It also shows that it is mostly the man's decision, and that women should be so lucky to have someone worthy ask for their hand in marriage, because at that time, men were the ones making all the decisions, and were of much greater importance than women. A woman had to be very attractive, come from a very rich family, or have excellent skills to be a desired wife for a respectable man.
Pride and Prejudice is an excellent example of all the different types of marriages of the time period. The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet shows is an example of a man wanting to marry a woman for her beauty. The story basically shows us that this is wrong because obviously beauty fades, and now Mr. Bennet enjoys gossiping and is only concerned with finding husbands for her daughters. Although the book does not clearly state that is the reason they were married, one can deduce that that was the case because of the amount of similarities between Mrs. Bennet and Lydia. Mrs. Bennet feels as though she can relate to Lydia and Mr.