Is Jane Austen's "Truth" still universally acknowledged?

Do you think that modern society still holds that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife?

I would opine that it is still at least 90% held to be true by society today as much as it was in Austen’s era, even in the most progressive communities.

Nope, if only because the possibility of his marrying another dude is now acknowledged.

No, because she was talking about a caste, class, economic, and gender system which has largely disappeared. He may be looking for a wife but he may be just looking for serial arm candy. In any case his wife if any will have little bearing on his social status or the continuation of the family lineage and power. Sure people always like matchmaking. But it ain’t the same.

No, there are lots of single men with fortunes (and without) with no desire for a wife – gay men, men who want girlfriends, men who want casual relationships, men who want no relationships at all, and more. I don’t know what the percentages would be, but I think it’s far lower than 90%.

Jane Austen used a large amount of irony/sarcasm in her writing. I’ve always taken this line as one of those! There are many in “society” who would want that man married, not necessarily him!

It is a joke of course. The punchline is the next paragraph.

For clarification, I understood full well that Austen was being sarcastic. I was asking if modern society still assumes a wealthy single man ought to get hitched as much as Austen’s society did.

I’ve never heard anyone talking about how rich bachelor should get married. I’ve heard maybe some talk that they aren’t into marriage or relationships in general, i.e., married to money. And, before SSM was legalized, I’ve heard rumors of not being into women.

So there’s an assumption that they would be married if they were interested. So basically the opposite of what Austen says.

That doesn’t mean that less rich people might try to marry him off, bu that would likely just be so they could marry their family into his wealth. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what Austen meant, too.

But Austen’s point was that people in her society were NOT making that assumption. Her point was that in her society families with daughters needed to marry them off to someone who could support them, so they saw every man with money as a potential husband.

I think that because women now have other ways of supporting themselves, and are far less likely to be supported by their fathers/families of origin until marriage, far fewer families are seeking out rich men to marry their daughters. But a rich single guy like a George Clooney or a Prince Harry is still seen as a good catch.

Pride and Prejudice is basically divided into

a) the famous first sentence, and

b) the entire rest of the book which lovingly picks apart the variety of ways in which that first sentence is actually bullshit, starting with the fact that even the people (women) who hold to it most closely are actually just desperately fooling themselves, in order to cope with the particular pathologies of their society. Which we don’t have any more (we have new and different exciting pathologies). The men in the story don’t need to get married - it’s irrelevant to their wellbeing. The women all have to find their own answers to the question - how much of your soul are you willing to sell for security?

Single rich guys in the modern world might be attractive. But they’re not a lifeline between you and a future of desperate poverty. Nothing in the modern world is really the same league.

I misunderstood the OP, I thought you were talking about the desires of the individual, but u see now you were asking about society. I think the belief in society might exist to some extent, but far less in significance than in Austen’s day.

It was written during a period of lengthy war and massive social and technological change. It’s referring to this. Most people (Ulfreida in this thread for instance) miss this point.

How is it referring to this? Could you be more specific?

The first time I heard the quote, I thought she was being incredibly snarky.

Say you ask about my marriage; and say I start ranting about how there’s two types of guys: most men, I say, are losers — you know, like in that GUYS AND DOLLS song, where they don’t really have money left for themselves, since their wives call the shots and blow hard-earned cash on frivolities? — but I know a few men who are happy and have lots of money left over after spending it however they please. My brother! My brother never got married: he doesn’t have a wife who (a) doesn’t have a job, but (b) sure as hell has expensive tastes, and his wallet. No, he’s got it made.

I pause just long enough to knick back some cheap whiskey, and then sum up with a bitter look on my face: you ever hear about a man in possession of a good fortune, you can bet that he sure as hell lacks a wife.

Now, from a man, that’d be sad; but from a woman, it’d be downright disturbing.

I am hoping this regressive, stereotyped, and misogynist post is meant to be amusing. To, I guess, men. Not being a man, I’m not finding it either amusing or edifying. But carry on. A couple more posts in this vein and it will become another of the no-women’s-viewpoints threads there has been so much discussion about recently.

I think her point is still true in the circles where young women try and “catch” a rich husband. Spend a Thursday night happy hour in a bar where lawyers and finance guys hang out, and there will be a cadre of young women hoping to attract the eye of a guy who will be able to afford a stay at home wife to raise his kids in the 'burbs. And there are still moms who are pushing doctors on their daughters. It is less universally acknowledged than in Austen’s time (when it wasn’t universal at all), but there is still a lot of it going on.

The other “truth” that still is there from Austen’s time is that such a man will want what was then an “accomplished” woman - someone with beauty, connections, a dowry, and ‘accomplishments’. And today such a man is more likely to marry a professional woman - someone with beauty, connections, and a professional career, rather than a good looking community college graduate he meets in a bar.

Yeah, I’m wondering this too.

It *was *written at a time of massive social change - in fact, the fact that there’s a massive social change going on is central to one of the main tensions of the book - can you marry for love? Is it sensible? Where should you aim for on a spectrum from Lydia to Charlotte?

That doesn’t make Ulfreida’s answer (which I take it was a ‘no’ to the actual question posed by the OP) non-responsive

IOW - transactional relationships still exist. Which they definitely do. But Austen is talking about more than people choosing to enter a transactional rather than a loving relationship - she’s documenting a society in which refusing transactional relationships is incredibly dangerous and can have huge costs (if you’re a woman - but women are her chief audience). And she doesn’t come down in favour of love nearly as strongly as a modern audience might expect - the person who’s excoriated for her appalling choice is Lydia, not Charlotte.

Jane and Lizzie, of course, get to have it both ways. But that’s how we know it’s fiction…

People still choose transactional relationships (does anyone think Melania was in love with Trump). And there is still great danger in marrying a man simply for love with no eye for the pragmatic (I have a number of acquaintances that married what was basically Wickham - the cute and charming guy from the band who really didn’t want to work for a living, but did want to spend). The differences are that now you can avoid children and get divorced, making it possible to recover…but each of those choices also comes with its own modern cost.

Austen’s point over and over again is that ideally you want both - you want to marry someone who you respect and love, but a choice made for mere pragmatism (Charlotte Lucas, Maria Bertram) is not good, neither is a marriage made because one is blinded by infatuation (let’s be clear, Lydia did not marry for love, nor did Mr. Bennett, and Edward Ferrars got engaged to Lucy - that was a disaster narrowly adverted) - which is difficult in a society where women pretty much must marry, and there is a shortage of suitable men for them to do so (due to both war and primogeniture - as well as limited neighborhoods in the country gentry Austen describes), and courtship tends to be brief and fairly superficial. While Anne Elliot’s family and friends did not see Captain Wentworth as suitable in his first application - it wasn’t just Sir Walter’s pride and classist notions, it was also Lady Russell’s pragmatic view that being married to someone who ends up maimed before he makes his fortune (a real possibility) would be a very difficult life for a woman. You get a glimpse of that with Captain Harville’s family - but Captain Harville made captain, which implies that he at least made some prize money, and he is only slightly lame.

Huh, I’ve always interpreted that line completely differently, to mean that once said man had gotten himself a wife, he would thereby no longer be in possession of great fortune, and that therefore only schmucks get married.

Granted, I’ve never read the book, so that impression was formed without any of the context.