How was marriage and wealth portrayed in the world of Jane Austen ?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Marriage and wealth are predominant themes throughout many of Jane Austen's classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.  The famous opening line of Pride and Prejudice links marriage and wealth:

"IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (1).

For the most part, many of the women in Austen's novel are trapped by circumstance into positions where they must marry in order to secure their well being.  Elizabeth Bennett faces down a horrid marriage proposal from Mr. Collins, which her mother thinks she should accept, all because it would provide for her future.  The wealthy gentleman in Austen's novels offer an ends to a mean for ladies.  Marriage, in many ways, was like a business transaction, focusing less on love, and more on the importance of aligning family fortunes.