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|emergence of *marriage*
Written by Lini
(4/27/2010 1:14 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Charlotte, Spinsterhood and Society (Long), penned by BarbaraB
I am sure someone has already pointed this out before, but I mention it just to put my oar in: that marriages were arranged and-or entered into for economic security (and still are, in much of the world) is not surprising. It is only very recently in Western culture (even more recently in the East, and I cannot speak for aboriginal societies) that marriage has been conceived of as an union of persons bound by love and not by legal ties initiated by the state or by family power. Love was an *extra* element which was not expected to be present when a match was made, but could acceptably arise later, when the partners had had time to acquaint themselves with one another. And of course, there was no guarantee that it would. Charlotte encourages and accepts Collins as part of a perfectly acceptable worldview -- both then and (in many parts of the world) now.
I think that one of the reasons the works of Jane Austen are so popular today is that her work stands at a crucial point in Western culture, when marriage as natural outcome of a romance was first emerging as an *achievable* ideal. I wonder if we are still in the midst of this shift between marriage as state-sanctioned social unit and marriage as a union based on mutual esteem.
Perhaps the debates around same-sex unions and the numbers of people choosing to raise families outside of marriage bear some relation to this shift.
And, just on a parting note, my personal appreciation of Jane Austen gains a great deal from this friction between the two different views of marriage. I am not convinced by the romantic, costume-drama, period-piece feasting which dominates the screen adaptations of her work. I cannot accept that romance is her main concern, because she tells us so much else about her world -- all those social rules point beyond the expected boy-meets-girl plotline.
Please excuse convoluted language, one and all -- some of my keys are stuck and contractions are impossible! So I come off sounding oh so very formal... :-)
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