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A Successful Marriage

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A Successful Marriage

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (3). Taken from the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, this opening quote can only lead one to assume what the novel will be about: marriage. A “successful” marriage has many components and the importance of each can vary depending on the individual. According to Austen, based on the way she opened her novel, marriage is mostly a women’s need. Upon reading the novel, one might think that Austen’s idea of a successful marriage is very material. Quite a few of the characters in the novel are trying to get married and it seems it is always for political reasons, mostly social class and money.

In truth, for Austen, a successful marriage is collectively made up of many components that a woman must look for such as financial stability, reason, and mutual attraction. Austen establishes, as well as Gurinder Chadha in his adaptation, “Bride & Prejudice”, each one of these elements by introducing four different couples in the story. She uses each one of these couples to show the importance of having this component but also the consequence of lacking the others.

The first important relationship in this book is between Charlotte and Mr. Collins whose marriage represents financial stability and comfort. This match comes as a surprise considering Mr. Collin’s ill manners and Charlotte being Elizabeth’s best friend. As the reader, one would expect Charlotte to have the same level of expectations of marriage as Elizabeth since they are so close. Charlotte’s main reason for marrying Mr. Collins is because he can provide her with a good home and secure her for the rest of her life. As Austen starts dissecting the concept of marriage, the reader is introduced the importance of have financial status.

A woman was not entitled to any wealth or allowed to work in the time Austen was writing these novels. Marrying into money may have seemed materialistic but Charlotte was an older woman who had no guarantee of other offers.

But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collin’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage state. (85)

Not being able to work, and her status as a woman meant that she had the possibility of ending up as one of the most unprivileged people of society, with no freedom at all.

In Chadha’s adaptation, the same concept is mirrored through Mr. Kohli and Chandra’s relationship. Although Mr. Kohli’s persona was very questionable to both women, Chandra was willing to overlook his quirks for the home he would be able to offer her in America. Still in both versions, Charlotte was never guaranteed any emotional happiness with her husband.

The second component of marriage, reason, is represented by not one couple but two. The Bennetts marriage is not based around marriage but an example of why having reason when deciding to marry is important. It is most interesting to observe the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett because they seem so unmatched. It is quite obvious that the Bennetts are not in love with each other. Especially in Mr. Bennett’s case, he always seems to be teasing her and mocking her. Even still, it is hard to tell who he is really mocking because it seems he is almost irritated about his own stupidity. Although there is no solid proof, it seems Mr. Bennett had been hasty in his younger days when he decided to marry. Through his expressions and advice to his daughters, it can be assumed that he married Mrs. Bennett more for her beauty than her intelligence and understanding or any emotional attraction.

For example, when Elizabeth asks for permission to marry Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bennett warns her saying, “My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life. You know not what you are about” (246). This quote is very telling of Mr. Bennett’s own experience in marriage, especially emphasizes the “you”. It seems he is trying to say that he himself knows what the experience is like and does not want her to endure it as well. This highlights Austen’s preference of having reason when choosing a partner because you don’t want to end up being miserable with your choice as Mr. Bennett was. Austen encourages women to look beyond a person’s beauty and more towards what their partner can offer them emotionally. It was obvious that the Bennetts were emotionally out of sync which caused most of the problems within their marriage.

Another example would be the relationship between Lydia and Mr. Wickham in the novel as well as Lucky and Wickham in the adaptation. In the book, as well as the adaptation, the youngest daughter was very captivated by the handsomeness of the infamous Wickham. This was a more outward example of what the



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