A Universally Acknowledged Truth
Time to share another one of the guest blogs written for the My Dearest Mr. Darcy virtual tour. This one was for Seductive Musings and I chose to talk about marriage as it was in the long ago days of yore! Enjoy…..
Perhaps I am unusual, but I have always felt a bit sorry for Mrs. Bennet. Her flaws and failings are numerous, and most entertaining within the cinema adaptations, but she truly did have a rough occupation: Marrying off five daughters! Our modern eyes look at this dilemma and can’t quite comprehend why this would send someone into a nervous frazzle. I am also probably a bit unusual in that while I do applaud Lizzy Bennet for refusing the ridiculous Mr. Collins and arrogant Mr. Darcy, I also recognize that she was rather stupid. From a certain point of view!
A woman in the early years of the nineteenth century had few choices in life and was completely vulnerable. Securing a man who would protect and provide for her, and possibly her family, was the wise choice. We shudder at this reality, and I am sure there were many ladies of that time who did as well, but for most it simply was the way of it. Thus Mrs. Bennet was merely doing her job in focusing her energies on landing suitable mates for her daughters. And Lizzy was not particularly smart to refuse two worthy men. From a certain point of view!
We do not know if Jane Austen intimately knew how it felt to love a man, but we do know that never marrying created a situation of extreme hardship for her, her sister, and her mother. The beauty of Austen’s novels is that her heroines not only marry men who are financially and socially established, but are also men that they love. Debates rage on whether Jane was content in her chosen path not to marry and I doubt the mystery will ever be solved. Yet clearly she, like the romantics of that day, believed in the idea of love within marriage as worthier than a large pocketbook.
Personally I am of the opinion that no matter what century it is or what culture one is in, emotions are universal. Humans desire to find love, passion, respect, devotion, friendship, happiness, and so on. We especially want these emotions within our marriages. Pragmatism has its place, and it certainly did in ages when women had little recourse. Yet the driving force has always been the heart.
Lizzy was willing to live with the consequences of being a spinster rather than marry without love. We admire her attitude, of course, but are also approving when she and Mr. Darcy overcome their problems and admit their mutual love. I never doubted the passionate love between these two characters and this beautiful story inspired me to write my sequel.
However, do not forget while sighing over the romance that Mrs. Bennet’s dilemma was solved beyond her wildest dreams! Lizzy married for love, but man, oh man, did she score!
My approach to the marriage and newfound life of Elizabeth Darcy was to explore the happiness possible when the relationship is based on deep love and respect. It was also to acknowledge the reality of marriage as it was then. Lizzy was now a wife in the early nineteenth century. Her independence, intelligence, sharp wit, and strength would assure she was a competent Mistress of Pemberley. Nevertheless, her role is as a support to her husband. As Mrs. Darcy I believe she would have understood and willingly performed her duties, and embraced her position as wife and eventually a mother.
We may not like it, but this was a male dominated society. It was also a culture centuries steeped in traditions of heritage and the importance of preserving the land. Men of the aristocracy and landed gentry, for the most part, took their duties very seriously. Devotion to their estates, their country, and their family was premier. The perfect husband, as my Mr. Darcy is naturally, would not only love his wife but would hold her in the highest regard. He would esteem her, trust in her instincts, welcome her opinions, and seek her advice. Their marriage would be a partnership with the pure emotions we hope for. Still, he would be the protector, ruler, and final authority, providing for his family as it was expected of him.
So at the end of the day everyone, including Mrs. Bennet, would live happily ever after! Now that is a great fairytale come true.