Oxted  District History Society - Article
Oxted  District History Society
 
 

Mareen Stiller, Secretary of the UK Jane Austen Society, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘Jane Austen & Marriage – Fact & Fiction’.


All of Jane Austen’s 6 novels end with marriages.  She wrote about marriage but was also a close observer of social behaviour.  She never married but her brothers did and she had many nieces and nephews.  She believed in marrying for love rather than for wealth and social status.  In her day there were rigid social divisions.  People were expected to marry in their own class.  However marriage was also a means of social ascendancy for those in the merchant class who wished to raise their status.


Her views on marriage were not overly sentimental.  There were few alternatives for women other than marriage.  Jobs were very limited.  They could become servants, companions or governesses.  Happy marriages are portrayed in Jane Austen’s books.  A good marriage helped raise the status of other members of the family.  Some couples in Jane Austen’s novels are ill-matched but women needed to marry so that they did not live in poverty.  The disfunctional marriages she also describes would have shocked contemporaries but the lack of jobs gave women little choice other than marriage.

 

Jane Austen and Marriage: Fact and Fiction by Maureen Stiller