Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Nature of Marital Happiness in “Pride & Prejudice”

From The Imaginative Conservative:
Elizabeth is pursued by three men. The handsome Wickham flirts with her, drawing her in to a false image of himself. Slowly, she apprehends his true character and is revolted by him. Elizabeth’s superficial youngest sister, Lydia, with visions of red-coated officers dancing in her head, falls for the glistering Wickham, bringing near ruin to her family. 
The unctuous Mr. Collins makes Elizabeth an offer of marriage that is so completely focused on his reasons for desiring marriage and why he has chosen her. For him, it is simply a matter of what he deserves, without consideration of her deserts or desires. Him, she flatly refuses. But Charlotte, in keeping with her beliefs about marriage, put herself in the way of this wife-seeking buffoon, fulfilling the silver casket’s inscription, getting as much as they each deserve. 
Charlotte’s own reflections on her situation may excuse her self-inflicted life sentence. “Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it.” 
Elizabeth’s third contestant in the game of love is the misunderstood and brooding Mr. Darcy. It is only through the gradual unveiling of his character that she comes to see that he, who at first seemed lackluster lead, is the one willing to “give and hazard all he hath” for her love and thus he wins her heart—and hand. (Read more.)

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