How Does The First Chapter Introduce Us To The Main Themes And Central Concerns In 'pride And Prejudice'?

1555 words - 6 pages

'Pride and Prejudice', first published in 1813, is Jane Austen's most popular novel. It tells the story of the Bennet family; a genteel family living in rural Britain in the early 19th century. The novel explores the social conventions of its time; social class and wealth, marriage, love and of course, pride and prejudice. 'Pride and Prejudice' discusses all of these themes from Jane Austen's point of view and with a doubt, she is the main character as all events are seen through her eyes and concern her in one way or another. It is through our understandings of her emotions throughout the story that Austen raises the issues that concern her.The first chapter begins with, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This sentence could have better prepared the reader for the rest of the novel. From reading this quotation, we understand that marriage is a huge part of the plot. It is also ironic as we later discover it is not so much the men that are searching for partners, as it is Mrs Bennet searching for suitable husbands for her five daughters. We are told that marriage was "the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune." The Bennet family show the good and the bad reasons behind marriage. It would be right to understand that due the position of women in society at the time, Mrs Bennet would have felt financial and social pressure to try to get her daughters married as soon as she possibly could. The Bennet estate was entailed to Mr Collins, meaning that when Mr Bennet passed around, the property would rightfully belong to Mr Collins and the Bennet women would be without a home. For the most part, women would not be able to earn any money without inheriting or marrying into a fortune. Women who did not marry were referred to as "old maids" and spent the rest of their lives with their parents. It is obvious as to why Mrs Bennet wanted her daughters married as quickly as possible. However, there are two different types of marriage illustrated in this novel. The Bennets' marriage is not idea as Mr Bennet married Mrs Bennet because she was beautiful in her youth. Eventually, their enjoyment of each other faded away as her beauty did. I believe that Austen is showing that marrying purely because of physical attraction is wrong. Elizabeth's good friend, Charlotte Lucas, marries Mr Collins for his money and inheritance. It is clearly stated that that is the reason why she married him and that Charlotte is not "romantic" and never has been. She tells Elizabeth, "I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr Collins's character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boat on entering the marriage state." Charlotte and Mr Collins were clearly not satisfied with the relationship, which shows that marrying for financial reasons...

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