Marriages in Pride and Prejudice

Three kinds: passion/impulse, interest/money, and love/understanding+hard work.


Guess which are the good marriages, the happy, stable, mutually satisfying ones? Not the Bennets’ — despite their early attraction, he comes to despise her foolishness and makes her the butt of his jokes, and she doesn’t understand him. Not the Wickhams’ — it’s all impulse on her side and all interest on his. Not the Collinses’ — they’re like the gender-reversed Bennets, without any teasing. But Jane and Bingley? They’re perfectly suited in temperament and their relationship grows, despite hardship, because of real admiration and respect on both sides. And Lizzy and Darcy, the uber-couple? They have to slay countless personal dragons and climb a nearly endless range of social mountains to get to that crucial final proposal scene, which is the culmination of many months of growing realization of how their differences each actually make the other better.


Honestly. Is this a head-in-the-clouds romance? No way. Austen clearly believed that people could marry because they shared a similar outlook, or because their differences were beautifully complementary, and that either of those scenarios was a fertile ground for genuine love, respect, admiration, and affection if both of them worked their butts off.


4 thoughts on “Marriages in Pride and Prejudice

  1. Great observations, Laura. You should have been an English major . . . oh, wait.
    But, really, this is how your father and I survived all these years. Sometimes it’s a struggle because we’re different people, but the struggle, and the hardships are what make a marriage great. God knocks the rough edges off you by putting sandpaper in your life. It’s never to hurt you, but to make you more lovely.

  2. I stand corrected on my earlier comment: with Mr and Mrs Bennet, Austen does show us the reality of a marriage imprudently entered into. Furthermore, she shows us how it is the children that suffer, not just the husband and wife.

    As to Jane and Bingley / Lizzy and Darcy, their successful future marriages are at least implied, n’est-ce pas?

    We are expected to disagree with Charlotte when she says “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or
    ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”

  3. Pingback: 2011: The Blog In Review | A Wilderness Life

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