Pride and Prejudice

Research Proposal Outline on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice I. Introduce thesis: By conveying her ideas and perceptions of human behavior through her novel, Jane Austen shows that men and women have different motivations for marriage in the 19th century as influenced by various factors.
II. Women have the disadvantage of economic inequality.
a. Society dictates that women need to marry even undesirable men in order to gain financial security.
1. “Mr. Collins… was neither sensible not agreeable… But still he would be her husband… marriage had always been her object. it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune” (Austen).
2. “She believes in the practicality of marriage as happiness is entirely a matter of chance” (Bhattacharyya 23).
b. Women of the “genteel” classes equate marriage to economic stability.
1. “In Jane Austen’s society, wedlock was the expected means for single young “genteel” women to gain or retain social and economic security” (Gast 3).
c. There are few job opportunities for women since their formal education is limited.
1. “…such of us as wished to learn, never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle certainly might” (Austen).
2. Darcy criticizes the contemporary idea that music and needlework alone are sufficient accomplishments and lays emphasis on the improvement of mind by extensive reading. (Bhattacharyya 24).
III. Financially-abled men have the ability to choose a wife for personal needs other than social and economic factors.
a. Men freely choose a wife out of fancy.
1. “A single woman of no fortune is the one in want of a husband… A single man with money wants nothing at all to complete his happiness” (Blackwell 49).
2. “Her father, captivated by youth and beauty… had married a woman whose weak understanding and liberal mind had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her” (Austen).
b. Men marry for convenience.
1. “First… it is a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances to set the example of matrimony in his parish. Secondly… it will add very greatly to my happiness, and thirdly… that is particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honor of calling patroness” (Austen).
IV. Men and women marry because of mutual love, respect and understanding.
a. “One interpretation of Austen’s spinsterhood frames it is her strongest testimony to the belief that one should marry only for love…” (Blackwell 47).
b. “Certainly it is undeniable that she pays enormous attention to the incomes and potential earnings of her marriageable characters and that while her heroines loudly disdain the vulgar bargain of marrying for money, nonetheless they have the very good luck to marry rich men for love” (Blackwell 40).
V. Conclusion: In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, economic inequality, personal needs and mutual love, respect and understanding are the motivations of men and women for marriage.
Works Cited
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. The Project Gutenberg EBook. August 15, 2003.
Bhattacharyya, Jibhesh. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors.
1 Jan. 2005. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
Blackwell, Bonnie. “Jane Austen: The Critical Reception.” Critical Insights 1 (2009): 37-52.
Gast, Nicole. Marriages and the Alternatives in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. GRIN
Verlag. 15 Nov. 2007. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.
Johnson, Claudia. Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel. University of Chicago Press,
1990. Print.
Lambdin, Laura C., and Robert T. Lambdin. A Companion to Jane Austen Studies. Greenwood
Publishing Group, 2000. Print.
Schmidt, Katrin. The Role of Marriage in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. GRIN Verlag. 2
Jan. 2008. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.