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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife This opening paragraph of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has become one of the most famous sentences in English literature It states clearly that the novel will explore the theme of marriage and the connection between it and money It often so happens that novels mirror the customs and values of a particular society Thus to understand the essence of the book let me first concentrate on how marriages were arranged in Austens times and the difficult situation of young women For many of them marriage on any terms was the only escape from a depressing spinsterhood in respectable poverty In our times women have many other alternatives in addition to marriage In those days it was not so A young women depended for her happiness her health in fact the whole shape of life on her making a good marriage If her husband was poor or a gambler or a drunkard she and her children could suffer from plight as her perspectives for employment were miserable What is more women were unable to inherit property after the death of a previous landowner All these factors contributed to the unfortunate position of women in the 19th century and caused them to marry early not for the reasons associated with marriage of today The central theme of Pride and Prejudice is how to get a husband and preferably a rich one In the first chapter we are introduced into the Bennet family who forms the focus of the plot and the problem of marriage Mr and Mrs Bennet have five daughters all of whom are confronted with a difficult situation Since Mr Bennet has no son his estate will be inherited by his nearest male relative Mr Collins Therefore each of the daughters will strive for a marriage Throughout the book we
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