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In Jane Austens novel Pride and Prejudice marriage is a very serious topic it determines a womans class their happiness for future life or even if they will have a life at all Marriage Forms alliances between families as land income and title are extremely fruitful topics Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony -- Jane Austen letter of March 13 1816 In Jane Austens time when Pride and Prejudice was written there was no real way for young women of the genteel classes to go out on their own or be independent Professions the universities politics etc were not open to women thus Elizabeths opinion that though this great lady Lady Catherine was not in the commission of the peace for the county she was a most active magistrate in her own parish is ironic since of course no woman could be a justice of the peace or magistrate Few occupations were open to them -- and those few that were such as being a governess ie a live-in teacher for the daughters of a family were not highly respected and did not generally pay well or have very good working conditions Therefore most genteel women could not get money except by marrying for it or inheriting it and since the eldest son generally inherits the bulk of an estate as the heir a woman can only really be a heiress if she has no brothers or any other living male relative Only a rather small number of women were what could be called professionals who though their own efforts earned an income sufficient to make themselves independent or had a recognised career And unmarried women also had to live with their families or with family-approved protectors -- it is almost unheard of for a genteel youngish and never-married female to live by herself even if she
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