Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen as a moralist with reference to Pride and Prejudice.

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Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" raises important moral issues concerned with the institution of marriage.

The most important one being how much money is necessary for a happy and successful marriage:"Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end and avarice begin?" (Ch.27)

Jane Austen does not explicitly answer this question by preaching a moral to her readers;but she puts things in perspective by revealing to us the importance of money in marriage and then leaving it to the readers to decide for themselves what is 'moral' or 'immoral'.

In Ch.33 Col Fitzwilliam Darcy the younger son of an earl and obviously a very rich man hints to Elizabeth that he can't marry her: "Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marrywithout some attention to money." Was he being prudent or avaricious in not marrying Elizabeth? Jane Austen leaves it to the readers to decide.

On the contrary, Darcy also a very rich man overlooks Elizabeth's impoverished financial status and goes out of the way to ensure that Wickham marries Lydia so that the Bennet's family honour is intact. His love for her compels him to virtually bribe Wickham his worst enemy into doing so. This clearly establishes that he is a noble and generous person and Elizabeth readily accepts his second marriage proposal in Ch.58.