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Portrayal of Marriage in Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice and William Wycherly's The Country Wife - Research Paper Example

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Name of the of the Concerned Professor English 15 August 2011 Portrayal of Marriage in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice and William Wycherley’s The Country Wife Introduction Changing marital norms and values and rising divorce rates, certainly justify and enquiry into the portrayal of marriage, in the works of literature…
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Portrayal of Marriage in Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice and William Wycherly's The Country Wife

Download file to see previous pages... Still, there are quite a few works of literature in which the plot involves marriage as one of the salient themes. Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice and William Wycherly’s The Country Wife are two such works. These two works extend an insight into the economic, social, emotional and sexual aspects of marriage in their times. Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice Many 18th century works of literature dealt with issues pertaining to the institution of marriage, delved on what amounted to a proper behavior in a marriage, what criteria ought to be meditated upon while selecting a marriage partner, what an individual could expect from a marriage and what entailed the salient duties and responsibilities of each partner. The primary reason for this trend was that the 18th century Britain was very open to serious meditations and reconsiderations as to what constituted a good marriage and how a marriage needs to be lived (Teachman 53). Yet, the traditional notions of marriage interpreting it as a joining of two families by virtue of a legal and social bond struck between two individuals continued to hold sway (Teachman 53). On the one side the society stressed on the need to perceive marriage as a legal contract, while on the other side the contemporary social and political climate in Jane Austin’s England also extended importance to individual’s emotions and aspirations (Teachman 80). Thus, it goes without saying that the portrayal of marriage in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice presents a conflict between these two seemingly contradictory views about marriage. In that context, the conventional theme of a suitable and ideal husband for a gentlewoman prominently emerges in Austin’s concept of marriage as elucidated in Pride and Prejudice. The character of Darcy is the closest possible model of the conventional female aspirations of a proper husband. At the same time, Elizabeth Bennet’s prejudices towards Darcy mark the rise of individual voice and caution in the women of those times. Remarkably, Jane Austin has managed to contrive a wonderful work of literature in which the central characters somehow manage to strike a balance between the needs and constraints of social economics and emotional imperatives (Austen & Kinsley 8). The basis of social relationships in Pride and Prejudice, and above all the relationship of marriage is primarily economic, and Jane Austin has certainly unraveled it with an ironic smile. Mrs. Bennet represents the traditional school of thought, and her one ambition in life is to see her daughters well married to eligible young men, and their eligibility is judged only by one standard that is their social and monetary status. Yet, at the same time, Mrs. Bennet’s obsession with money is used by the writer to present her as a ridiculous character. Elizabeth, though presented as a discerning and sensible woman, is not entirely free from this materialistic bias. At the sight of beautiful and grand Pemberley Park, a sudden impulse to posses it passes through her, and she regrets her rejection of Darcy’s proposal. Ironically enough, she accepts Darcy only after her visit to Pemberley Hall. Austin’s idea of marriage is an attempt on the part of a sensitive and smart 18th century woman to somehow aspire for the best of two worlds, the world of individual liking and preference and the larger socio-economic world where the rules of inheritance and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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