Marriage is generally the origin of the elementary community of which larger communities ... and ultimately the nation areconstituted and on the conjugal state of the population, itsexistence, increase and diffusion, as well as manners, character,happiness and freedom ultimately depend...Registrar General, Introduction to the Census, 1851
Marriage played a major role not only in Jane Austen’s famous novels, but inthe lives of many young people along history. The focus in this work lies onthe relationships, courtship customs and marriages of the members of theupper middle and the upper classes in England in the Regency period. TakingAusten’s works as a starting point with a special regard to
Pride and Prejudice
,I will outline the real existing ideas and circumstances regarding marriageand associate them with her novels. The topics are all derived from the majortheme of the work, Marriage and marriageability and a major focus lies on thedevelopment of companionate marriage. Austen often contrasts this schemeto the (at her time still existing) arranged marriage, creating frictions betweenthe involved (upper) middle classes and the higher or aristocratic classes.
Because Jane Austen’s novels are novels of courtship with female heroines,they hardly ever focus on men’s professions, except for short references.Those men, who, in the end, usually get married to the novels’ heroines, likeMr. Tilney in
or Mr. Darcy
in Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen and Marilyn Butler.
(Penguin Classics. London ; NewYork: Penguin Books, 2003)