Jane Austen never married. Did you know that? I thought it was the case, but I did check for sure to confirm that the author of the romantic novel Pride and Prejudice was never wed. What does a single author have to say about marriage?
There’s Charlotte Lucas.
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation, and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.” Charlotte Lucas Chapter 6
True, at the time of this quote, she did not have a suitor, but that quickly changed sixteen chapters and one rejected proposal later. No, it wasn’t Charlotte’s rejection; it was Elizabeth’s rejection of Mr. Collins. It seems Charlotte does not mind being second choice a short three days later.
“Mr. Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. 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.” Charlotte Lucas chapter 22.
Oh, yea! She’s marrying someone who only imagines to love her! That’s every girl’s dream. What a great way to start a life-long commitment! (read with much sarcasm) I understand that times were different then. Mrs. Bennet reminds me over and over that unless married, her daughters will have no place to live when Mr. Bennet dies. Charlotte’s situation was slightly better. Marry or live with a sibling. If I were Charlotte, I think I would have chosen the sibling over Collins.
Mr. Bennet does not agree with Charlotte’s suggestion of knowing as little as possible about the other person. Elizabeth reveals to the reader her father’s lack of wedded bliss.
“Her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence had vanished forever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown.” Chapter 42
How sad! He married his bride only because she was young and pretty. Remember this post? Here I questioned Mr. Bennet’s motives for calling on Bingley? So much for doing it to please his wife.
And now Lydia has run off with Wickam. Peer pressure and debt reduction bring about a hasty wedding for this couple. What kind of marriage will they have? It does not look promising.
I have not finished the book yet, but I am hoping for a “Happily, Ever After” for Darcy and Elizabeth. Neither one is the type to “settle”. They certainly know each other’s faults. There is more than youth and beauty to these characters. Maybe Austen will give them a chance. Based on the examples of marriages in the book, is that possible?