“It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife”

A recent visit to Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire was fulled by all kinds of nostalgia. I first fell in love with this opening line of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when I was 14. There was a certain ring or tone to this line, and that struck with me for a long time, although I couldn’t quite figure it out what it was. At the same time, this line led me to more questions than answers on marriage; the established social norms d the expectant roles of men and women within marriage. The line sets the plot of the novel, and is riddled with irony (a quick irrelevant note, when our teacher spoke of ‘irony’ at the time, I didn’t understand what that meant).

The line is as apt now as it was during Austen’s time. Yet, what if roles were reversed? Could a single woman ‘in possession of a large fortune … be in want’ of a husband?

 

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