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Our aim in this paper will be to analyze and discuss the different ways in which love and marriage were dealt with during the eighteenth century and to what extent these two terms were linked together or considered as opposite To accomplish this matter we are going to focus our attention on several works that are representative from this period and that reflect in an accurate way the social mores and more specifically marriage conventions and romantic love Throughout this discussion we will be emphasizing the idea that marriage is represented in these works as an institution completely detached from love and that it pursues more than anything else economic purposes and an rising in the social hierarchy First of all we should account for the situation of English women during the eighteenth century that despite several social improvements continued having less rights or freedom than men within the family and marriage as an institution Patriarchal forms were still a deep-rooted custom that ruled society which was male-centered Marriage was often forced on women as their only way of having a recognized position in society but at the same time led them to slavery Womens property could be spent to the discretion of the husband as she was considered together with all that she owned a possession of the husband Significantly relevant is the fact that the convention of marriages arranged by parents was still widely accepted Evidences of this aspect can be found in Goldsmiths work She Stoops to Conquer At the very beginning of the play MrHardcastle expresses that he has already chosen a husband for his young daughter Then to be plain with you Kate I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day I have his fathers letter in which he informs me his son is set out and that he intends to follow himself shortly after p 3
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