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The Bennets have five unmarried daughters. They have a fairly comfortable life, but the estate they live on is "entailed," meaning that upon Mr. Bennet's death it will not go to his wife but to a Mr. Collins, in which case Mrs. Bennet and all five daughters would probably have to move out. This would be disastrous unless at least one of the girls can manage to find a good husband who will be willing to provide a home for her mother and sisters. Marriage is of the utmost importance from the very beginning of the novel. It is implied in the famous opening sentence: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." The most eligible single man in the novel is, of course, the tall, dark, handsome and rich Mr. Darcy. Unmarried middle-class women without a male--father, brother, uncle--to provide support were often forced to take work as governesses or even housekeepers. The only feasible career open to women was marriage and motherhood. Pride and Prejudice is mainly about how the Bennets' daughters manage to find husbands.
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