Girls just wanna have fun

Although this may have been Lydia Bennet’s theme song (and  Lydia might have dressed like Cyndi Lauper had she been alive in 1983), this song is not the rallying cry for gentlewomen of 1811. Marrying well was of supreme importance in the Regency era, and courting wasn’t a whole lot of fun.

Respectable women had very little influence over their financial well-being. The confining social class system didn’t allow them to work. If their family didn’t have much wealth, they had to marry well to insure their security and prosperity. It’s no wonder Mrs. Bennet was obsessed with marrying off her daughters, as she would have very little money in widowhood.

Although Lizzy wanted to marry for love, her esteem of Mr. Darcy is affected by seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley. I am not saying that Lizzy was a gold digger– breaking through his pride and her prejudices were paramount to her affection. But she was also keenly aware of the Bennet’s precarious financial situation.

While Lizzy is more romantic than Charlotte Lucas, the experience of visiting Pemberley (and of all this, I might have been mistress) had to improve her opinion of Mr. Darcy.  She knew that Mr. Darcy was wealthy (ten thousand a year!), but I think that reality of his financial situation didn’t completely sink in until she set foot at Pemberley.


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