“A single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”: Institution of marriage in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice.’
Jane Austen’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is often perceived as a fueled attempt to proliferate feminism in society by deconstructing patriarchy. In pride and prejudice, Austen describes the connotations surrounding marriage from her protagonist’s, Elizabeth, point of view. As such, she voices her opinions from a prejudiced perspective regarding the sanctity of the marriage and the factors surrounding the matrimony. The text follows a plot arc, allowing Austen to comprehensively brings to light societal expectations and double standards, first impressions, the role of the family, the essence of love, impact of social stratification and reputation of the individuals based on the social norms and the contribution of all these factors to the problems women face in soul searching (Dooley, 185). The text is nuanced by the use of snappy dialogue to explain the relationships between characters and effectively depict the absurdity in the conceptions surrounding marriage in society. This essay, while agreeing that the society excessively limits the choices available to women on the issue, argues that Austen utilizes shifty points of view to depict marriage in a negative light throughout the novel. While she intends to thwart the dominant perspective about marriage being the only means to a woman’s happiness, the end of the novel begins to resemble the idealist position she argues against. This paper begins by recounting societal perspectives and influences on marriage, followed by the role of the family, the essence of pride and prejudice in first impressions and courtship, social stratification/ classism in marriage, and finally, gender and social control. The paper also offers a situational analysis of the couples and their lives in marriage.