Question

Here are some quotes in Pride and Prejudice, analyze and write them in your own words:

1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
2. Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation." (11.18)
3. "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." (18.20)
4. Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I could advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved." (29.6)
5. Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, "You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever." Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.

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1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

This statement serves two purposes. One is a representation of life as is, at the time of Jane Austin, of social norms and a way of life that was habitual, socially expected, “normal”. The society at the time never even envisaged that someone may have desires, needs and plans different to those of a “normal” life, a “proper” life, or that one’s life path could be determined by anything other than his or her material circumstance. Of course any single man would want a wife. A young man of insufficient fortune, however, could perhaps not afford to support a wife and a family, which would be the only excusable reason why a single man would not be actively looking for a wife - but such a young man would be expected to be miserable about his prospects and trying, very hard, but within his own station, to improve his position so he might be able to afford a “proper” life. Therefore, a young man, who has sufficient means to support a family, would naturally be looking. This is how things were. This is how things always had been, this is how things would be forever. Of course a single man of good fortune would be in want of a wife! And it was the job of every mother, grandmother or aunt of eligible young women (where eligible is determined not only by age, but also - and far more importantly - by social circle to which her family belongs and the one immediately above it, to which it aspires) in his immediate environment to ensure that it was their daughter that caught his eye, and that the young man was made to realize that it is their daughter that is the best choice of wife for him.
The other purpose of this sentence is social commentary. The hidden lament for having one’s freedom of choice not only disputed, but utterly ignored. The sting of living in a society and in a time where there was only one set of wants, desires and plans that was socially acceptable and any thought outside of that particular mould was considered strange by those most tolerant and utterly unacceptable by everyone else. And everyone else was in the vast majority....

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