Money and Love in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
In the late 18th century, it was not uncommon that a middle class woman had to choose if her marriage should be based on love or money. Since women often depended on either a husband or male relatives to support them, marriage was a way to avoid economic hardship.
Pride and Prejudice gives many examples of women in this situation, and it is evident that both men and women are affected by economy and social class in their choice of a partner. The purpose of this essay is therefore to look closer on how the courtships in the novel are influenced by economy and class. Some characters are greedy and believe that wealth and an upper class life equals happiness. The wealthy man Mr. Darcy becomes suspicious of women and believes that they are only after his money. Women are also seen as commodities; wealthy men expect to be able to marry whomever they like regardless of the woman’s feelings.
I will show that there are three main types of marriages in the novel: marriages based on financial considerations, marriages based on infatuation, and marriages combining love and money. Marriages based on financial considerations are not ideal since emotional needs are not often fulfilled. However, in some cases it might be a solution for women who do not have the time to wait for a romantically and economically fulfilling marriage. Marriages that include no financial considerations at all are not ideal since a stable economy is important to live happily. In the essay, I will show that the most ideal marriages are those who combine both love and money, as they ignore neither emotional needs nor economy.
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