Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Colonel Fitzwilliam:] "[…] But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from want of money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like."
[Elizabeth:] "Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do."
"Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."
"Is this," thought Elizabeth, "meant for me?" and she coloured at the idea; but, recovering herself, said in a lively tone, "And pray, what is the usual price of an earl's younger son? Unless the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above fifty thousand pounds." (33.12-15)
Here, Colonel Fitzwilliam slips Lizzy a little hint that, while he thinks she's cute and all, he's not about to marry her. He may be the son of an earl, but he's the younger son, which means he's not going to inherit the estate—unless his older brother dies. Lizzy recovers by making a joke about how much it costs to marry an earl's younger son (i.e., how much money does the girl have to bring to the marriage?) but Fitzwilliam is serious: he has to marry a rich woman to support him in the manner to which he's become accustomed—his "habits of expense." He's our clue that, while this system of marriage isn't great for women, it's not great for men, either.
"And we mean to treat you all," added Lydia, "but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out there." Then, showing her purchases—"Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better." (39.3)
Ugh, Lydia. This is bad news for Wickham (of course, Wickham is bad news for her, too). Pro tip for the wife-hunting nineteenth-century gentlemen: make sure your bride-to-be can manage her money.
The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings. (43.5)
Elizabeth is wandering around admiring Pemberley, and what she notices is that it's elegant. Sure, it's expensive—it's "suitable to the fortune of its proprietor," which means no Ikea furniture to be found, but it's also not gaudy or "splendid." Like Shmoop's always said, you can't buy taste.