The central theme of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is marriage, as indicated in the opening line of the book: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in a want of a wife. ” As we later find out, it is mainly Mrs. Bennet who is in search of a suitable husband for her daughters. It was a common practice during Austen’s time for women to marry a husband to save herself from spinsterhood or to gain financial security.
However, I dare to say that Jane Austen herself did not particulaly like this approach because the marriage of Mr. Collins and Charlotte which was based on the “rule” mentioned before can never become a happy marrige. Anyway, Jane Austen was also very influenced by the time she lived in. We can say this because she did not let Elizabeth get involved with Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth’s aunt Mrs. Gardiner cautioned Elizabeth not to fall in love with Mr. Wickham because he is not wealthy.
You are too sensible a girl, Lizzy, to fall in love merely because you are warned against it; and, therefore, I am not affraid of speaking openly. Seriously, I would have you be on your guard. Do not involve yourself or endeavour to involve him in an affection which the want of fortune would make so very imprudent. “(Chapter 26) The last sentence explains everything. Mrs. Gardiners advices Elizabeth not to fall in love with Wickham or to let him fall in love with her because the relationship would not be reasonable. Mrs. Gardiner’s advice to Elizabeth shows that Mrs.
Gardiner realizes that money is as important as love. Jane Austen created the character of Elizabeth in the eighteenth century when it was considered proper to keep passions and emotions under control and when sense was considered to be more imporant than feelings. That is why we can see here a conradiction between sense and sensibility. In case Elizabeth was in love with Wickham, she should not marry him nor show any affection towards him. Getting involved with Wickham would not be rational because he does not have enough money.
Elizabeth is a very rational young lady. Her rationality proves her reaction on Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Later in the book, Mr. Darcy comes to Elizabeth and expresses his feelings towards her : “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. “(Chapter 34) Mr. Darcy did not reveal only his love but all his objections to this marriage. He actually said that even though it is against his sense, he cannot hold his feeligs back any longer.
Darcy actually offended Elizabeth by his proposal because he said that his love towards her is against reason. Elizabeth was also offended because Mr. Darcy proposed her using manners she did not like. He behaved as though Elizabeth was honoured and was not allowed to say no. On the other hand, Elizabeth sometimes seems irrational to me, because she turned down proposal of Mr. Colins which seemed to me rational. Mr. Colins was supposed to inherit Mr. Bennet’s house after his death and he proposed Elizabeth to marry him.
This marriage would be lacking love, respect and knowing each other, and could never become a happy marriage but it would be reasonal. From the marriages desribed in the novel, we can tell which reasons for getting married did Jane Austen prefer. She seemed to prefer a marriage where both love and sense were jointed. A marriage where no love is concerned and only rason was the most important thing on which the marriage was based are not happy as we can see on two examples. The first example is the marriage of Elizabeth’s parents and the other is the marriage of Mr.
Collins with Charlotte. Neither of these marriages is happy because the people lack one important component that makes people happy – love. Another “sad” story is the marriage of Mr. Wickham with Elizabeth’s sister Lydia. The only reason of this marriage was infatuation. Neither of them had money to sustain the living standard they were used to. This relationskip lacked any sense and that is also wrong, because once the infatuation fades away, there is nothing else left. The people do not really know each other, sometimes they do not even have anything in common. Are they happy?
From these examples we can see that there is always a struggle between sense and sensibility. What should prevail? According to Jane Austen, there should be a ballance between these two imporant factors. An example of this ballance are marriages of Jane and Elizabeth. Elizabeth understood well the advice of her aunt and did not let herself to get involved with a man she could love and respect but with whom the relationship would not be acceptable because of the money. Elizabeth fell in love wih Mr. Darcy, who was not only a wealthy man but also a man she could love and respect.