Sense and Sensibility
How we cite our quotes:
"A woman of seven-and-twenty," said Marianne, after pausing a moment, "can never hope to feel or inspire affection again; and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse, for the sake of the provision and security of a wife. In his marrying such a woman, therefore, there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem only a commercial exchange, in which each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other." (8.4)
Marianne's view of love and marriage (and who merits either of them) is extremely prejudiced – her attitude is what we would call ageist these days. She seems to believe that the capability to love simply dissipates after the age of 25 or so; this is a ridiculously youth-centric and ultimately rather pessimistic way of looking at the prospect of matrimony.
Elinor was not inclined, after a little observation, to give him credit for being so genuinely and unaffectedly ill-natured or ill-bred as he wished to appear. His temper might perhaps be a little soured by finding, like many others of his sex, that through some unaccountable bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly woman -- but she knew that this kind of blunder was too common for any sensible man to be lastingly hurt by it. (20.19)
So, marriage isn't always as great as everyone thinks it is after all. It turns out that sometimes it's the cause of great trouble – as in Mr. Palmer's case. At this time, there was no question of any respectable couple getting a divorce, so once you were married, it was for life.
"I am sure your mother will not object to it; for I have had such good luck in getting my own children off my hands, that she will think me a very fit person to have the charge of you; and if I don't get one of you at least well married before I have done with you, it shall not be my fault. I shall speak a good word for you to all the young men, you may depend upon it." (25.2)
Mrs. Jennings makes her mission clear once more – it's her self-declared job to find every eligible girl a husband. Obviously, marriage is a kind of communal activity among this group of friends.