Jane Austen is famous for talking about love relationships. Her novels start with love and ends with marriage. She gives every novel a happy ending. “Love and Marriage” is a common theme of her novels including “Pride and Prejudice”. She depicts good and bad marriages in this novel. In fact, each type of marriage has been presented by her. Ironically, she sheds light on pros and cons of all types of marriages. Novel is about a society in which women are dependent on men. They are bound to household activities. Every girl of her era including Jane Austen spent her life in serving her family. “Pride and Prejudice” is a clear representation of her own society with an additional theme of “love and marriage”.
Relationships and “Theme of Love and Marriage” in “Pride and Prejudice”:
Jane Austen shows theme of love and marriage in “Pride and Prejudice” through five types of marriages. However, we cannot say that every marriage is based on love. Most of the couples are compelled to live with each other whereas remaining earn their respect in the eyes of their beloveds for marriage. Nevertheless, theme of “love and relationship” in “Pride and Prejudice” is based on following five couples:
- Mr and Mrs. Bennet
- Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas
- Wickham and Lydia
- Bingley and Jane
- Darcy and Elizabeth
Every love relationship and marriage depicted in “Pride and Prejudice” is distinct. First marriage is old, second is based on compulsion, third is based on disrespectful love affair, fourth is settled and fifth is based on pure love. Let’s discuss them in detail to know more about primary theme of “love and marriage” in “Pride and Prejudice”.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet:
Jane Austen talks more about human psyche though not directly. She teaches us how to behave in a particular situation. Hence, her novels also share the theme of mannerism. Mrs. Bennet is a lady who is portrayed by the writer as absurd and ridiculous. She lacks manners. She is a humorless and a mean kind of woman. Mr. Bennet on the other hand has a good sense of humor. His nature is entirely opposite to her in every manner. It seems that he married her for beauty expecting that she would become a good wife with the passage of time. However, in more than twenty-three years of marriage they never enjoy a single day of marital bliss. We find a marriage but no love in their story.
Jane Austen compares them in start of the novel. Here are some differences in their relationship that Jane Austen shows in “Pride and Prejudice”.
- Mr. Bennet has good humor whereas Mr. Bennet has weak understanding
- She is liberal whereas he is illiberal
- He is intellectual whereas she is stupid
- He is broad minded whereas she is narrow minded
Mr. Bennet after his marriage soon realizes that he has committed a mistake. It is, therefore, he tries to veil his disillusionment through books. He enjoys cracking jokes on her wife. Jane Austen is of the view that no man wants this type of enjoyment through marriage. Cracking jokes and teasing life partner is alien to love relationship. In her eyes, respect is necessary for love. Nonetheless, this is the worst kind of love and marriage that she has shown in “Pride and Prejudice”.
Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas:
Their story is very concise and short. Mr. Collins shares some of the natural attributes of Mrs. Bennet. He visits Bennet family and ridiculously purposes Elizabeth. Mrs. Bennet wants her daughter to accept this marriage so that they can save their property but Elizabeth flatly rejects his proposal. Thereafter, he proposes Charlotte Lucas and she accepts him as her husband. This marriage is also not based on love. Charlotte accepts proposal because she is coming of age. She has no other choice. Hence, this marriage is based on oppression of not finding any other suitable husband in future. Charlotte is a good and intellectual lady. She understands human behavior better than Elizabeth. Mr. Collins is not a suitable husband for him. She deserves better but she is victim of circumstances. Jane Austen though this couple shows a strange type of love relationship and marriage in “Pride and Prejudice”.
Wickham and Lydia:
It is one of the most important premature love relationship and marriage in “Pride and Prejudice”. Lydia is a teenage girl who meets Wickham and falls in love with him. He is not serious about her. Lydia shares attributes of her mother to the extent of intellectuality. She elopes with Wickham without realizing that it would bring shame to her family. Wickham on the other hand does not want to marry her. He just flirts with her. Mr. Darcy forcibly arranges their marriage. This type of marriage is disrespectful. Jane Austen in clear words rejects it. Regardless of that theme of love and relationship is presented in “Pride and Prejudice” through this couple too.
Love between Bingley and Jane and their Marriage in “Pride and Prejudice”:
Jane is the most beautiful girl of the novel. She is prettier than Elizabeth and is a kind-hearted lady. When she meets Bingley, he likes her. However, he has no will of his own. He takes orders from Darcy and his sisters. Some complications arise when he refuse to marry Jane though not in clear words. Jane is deeply in love with Bingley but this relationship seems one sided as Bingley cannot take decisions. He follows Darcy’s orders. He can cheat her as anyone can create misunderstanding between them. So, this marriage is more settled and less based on love. Mr. Darcy settles it from Bingley side and Bennet family from Jane’s side. Whole novel revolves around their story. In fact, their and story runs alongside the story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Jane Austen shows theme of “love and marriage” in “Pride and Prejudice” through this couple too.
Theme of Love and Marriage in “Pride and Prejudice” through Darcy and Elizabeth:
Main story is of the novel is about love between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Their relationship starts with pride and prejudice. Mr. Darcy seems an arrogant person. He does not consider Elizabeth handsome enough to tempt him. These remarks of Mr. Darcy offend Elizabeth. However, with the passage of time, Darcy’s pride melts and ultimately they become life partners.
Darcy Proposes Elizabeth two times and there is a reason behind it. Firstly, he proposes her in an arrogant manner or perhaps, his first impression was not good. Jane Austen shows that a girl should reject such kinds of proposals as Elizabeth does. She knows that Darcy’s proposal is a golden opportunity for her even then she rejects it. She wants at least respect (at most love) before marriage. Jane Austen shows that without respect there is no love and without love marriage is just a commitment.
Second time when Darcy proposes her, she accepts it. It is because he realizes Elizabeth’s importance in his life. He starts giving her respect. It is a lessen that he learns well from rejection of proposal. It is best love relationship and marriage in the eyes of Jane Austen. Their marriage is neither based on compulsion nor on the basis of settlement but on true love.
With these four new and one old marriages, Jane Austen presents theme of “love and marriage” in “Pride and Prejudice”. She teaches us what is best for us. Although it is said that real life starts after marriage yet she shows that marriage should be based on love. Furthermore, without respect love is not possible. If a couple respects and loves each other then they can solemnize marriage. It would be the best marriage in the eyes of Jane Austen.
- How does Jane Austen portrays theme of love and marriage in “Pride and Prejudice”?