Pride and Prejudice

The first sentence of the book is among the most famous lines in literature. What is its purpose?

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." (Austen 3) Page 3

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Yes, this is a famous line. Really it provides the plot framework for the entire book. In a society where social stature and money are primarily held by a small minority of men, “single men in possession of a good fortune" become a sought after commodity for women. Nineteenth-century marriage was more about social and economic advantages rather than anything else. If rich men were "in want of a wife,” certainly young single women were in want of a rich husband!