Let’s face it…There is something to be said for “arranged” marriages, especially in high society. Parents can ensure that their daughters (or sons, for that matter) are marrying someone who is acceptable by their social and financial standards. After all, young women in love are not always the brightest lightbulbs in the pack when it comes to moving beyond the pitter-pat of a beating heart and thinking about the future. And I speak from experience. If I had defied my parents for my first “true” love, I’d be married to a circus performer and working a dog act while living in a small trailer and traveling from town to town to town… Hmm…given my love of animals and travel, maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad!
Who am I kidding? I’d be miserable and certainly not writing this blog post!
While I cannot attest to my selection of suitors at such an early age (or even in my 20s…I was fortunate enough to upgrade to a better model after divorcing my failed first selection), I know for a fact that I would NEVER have survived if my parents selected my spouse. I imagine a point-dexter type of fellow who spends his free time golfing, bores people at social events by name dropping all the important people he knows, and resents the fact that I not only have a brain and an opinion, but I’m not afraid to use the former and share the latter! EGADS! I can’t even imagine who would have been tortured more: my “spouse” for being a stick in the mud or my parents for having selected him for me. It certainly would not have ended well, trust me on that one.
In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Anne denied her true love, Frederick because her father found the young man of inferior social standing and certainly not a son-in-law that would bring any sort of benefit to the family. Lady Russell echoed this sentiment. No one seemed to think of Anne feelings toward this man. What do feelings matter if the marriage is not something to gossip about on the ton?
(That was sarcasm, just in case you are unaware…)
While no one likes a Monday morning quarterback, I find this social prejudice quite disturbing, especially given Walter’s financial situation at the beginning of the novel. There is also irony in the fact that his commitment to vanity, spending money to buy things that impress others, is the very characteristic that was his undoing!
Oh, how everyone’s life might have changed if Anne had married Frederick!