Discuss Love and Marriage as a theme in Pride and Prejudice?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the very beginning of the novel, with Austen's famous opening line, "IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife," Pride and Prejudice embraces its focus on love and marriage.  Through the course of the novel, Austen examines multiple motivations for entering into the marriage state through her characters' various choices.  Love is not always the determining factor for marriage in this novel.  Austen provides the forceful example of Charlotte Lucas who marries a ridiculous man she can never love, Mr. Collins, to achieve her own future comfort and security.  Later chapters concerning the Collins family in the novel reveal how both annoying and miserable it can be to live with a spouse one cannot respect.  Additionally, Austen also provides the outrageous example of Lydia Bennet's disgraceful elopement with Mr. Wickham which has more to do with lust than genuine affection or love. 

In the examples of Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth Bennett an Mr. Darcy, Austen provides her readers with a true example of a love match, a marriage based on genuine respect and admiration as well as love.  These women marry both for love and good fortune, as both Bingley and Darcy are possessors of large annual incomes.  Austen's novel makes an eloquent argument for choosing a spouse that one can admire, respect, and love.

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Pride and Prejudice

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