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Money and Marriage in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

First published in 1813, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a favorite of contemporary readers who love its playful dialogue, its sparkling heroine, and its love story. A novel of exquisite design, from its iconic opening to its final marriages, its characters inhabit the small towns and country estates of Regency England. Situated at the cusp of a new, democratic age, Austen’s characters know too well the precariousness of rank, as well as the role of marriage and money in maintaining or advancing it. Marriage is shown to be a high-stakes enterprise, and we see our heroine risk catastrophe to marry a man she could love. It is against this backdrop of a meticulously exposed social reality that the virtues and vices of Austen’s characters are revealed.