Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Marriage Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Had Elizabeth's opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a very pleasing opinion of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort. 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 for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown. […] To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement. This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish to owe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given. Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father's behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible. But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents, which, rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife. (42.1-3)
There's a lot going on here. First of all, it seems that Lydia and Wickham's marriage might turn out to be similar to Mrs. Bennet's—Lydia has very little going on for her other than her youth. Second, the Bennets have a terrible marriage, and Elizabeth sees a giant "What Not to Do" sign flashing next to her parents. Lastly, a bad marriage will hurt the kids.
"My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. […] But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place—which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. […]" (19.9)
Who needs love sonnets when you can have a numbered list? Here, Mr. Collins enumerates the reasons he wants to marry—and when those are checked off, then it's time to use "the most animated language," i.e. actually tell Lizzy he loves her. Which he obviously doesn't. Ugh, has anyone seen our barf bag?
Had Elizabeth's opinion been all drawn from her own family, she could not have formed a very pleasing opinion of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort. 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 for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown. (42.1)
If Lizzy lived in the 21st century, she'd be from a broken home. Instead, she's from an unhappy home, because her father married for all the wrong reasons: lust, i.e. youth and beauty. And notice what's wrong with the marriage—there's no respect, esteem, or confidence. Marriage isn't about undying love or great sex: it's about respecting and trusting your partner.