Pride and Prejudice

The Importance of Marriage in Jane Austen's Novels College

Marriage is at the heart of every Jane Austen novel, or, at the very least, at the end of them, as every one of Austen’s heroines find themselves at ‘The End’ with a husband, a fortune and lifelong happiness. In reality, however, women often had to make a choice between love and money and hope that lifelong happiness would follow, and while popular opinion favoured ‘love and esteem’, many conduct manuals of the period instructed that ‘self preservation above inclination’ would ensure marital bliss (Jones, 2009, p. 1, 11). Marriage, therefore, was incredibly important to young ladies as it could destroy or secure future contentment, and to Austen, the importance of marriage can be considered threefold, in terms of its importance to society, to the individual and its importance in terms of morality and virtue. In Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, marriage is important as a means of socioeconomic mobility, an exploration of morality and ‘proper’ conduct and as a social contract that affects the wider community.

“She found herself at nineteen, submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties, placed in a new home, a wife, the mistress of a family, and the patroness of a village.”

Sense and Sensibility, Chapter...

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