Many people know the famous opening sentence of the book: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This is of course a very ironic remark. What is really true in the time of the novel is this: Single women from poorer families are very interested in a man with a good fortune, or even just a little money. Since they cannot pay their own way in life, they must find a husband.
Because of this, Mrs Bennet is desperate to find husbands for her daughters. They will then no longer be a burden on her.
然而，小说并不止于描绘浪漫，歌颂爱情。在奥斯汀笔下， 19世纪英国的社会百态也被生动地呈现出来。这也是一个以男性为中心的时代, 男女不平等, 女性的社会地位非常之低。按照当时法律的规定，女性不拥有财产继承权, 她们必须依附于男性，家庭生活因此成为她们的全部。女性想要生存，要获得生活上保障和“财政保证”，婚姻是唯一的途径。于是，在那个时代，婚姻不仅仅是爱情的归宿，也是女子“谋生”的手段。
Romances are among the most popular kinds of stories. It isn’t difficult to see why, as finding a man or woman to spend the rest of one’s life with is something almost all people want. Stories about relationships can be tragedies, like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. They can also be comedies, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). This novel is certainly one of the funniest and most charming romances in world literature.
But Pride and Prejudice also has a sad message. In the novel there is a clear sense of the unequal opportunities men and women enjoy in life.
It is a story about the rich but snobbish Mr Darcy and the smart, but difficult and proud Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth is one of five daughters who live with their parents in respectable but rather poor conditions in Hertfordshire, near London. They belong to a class of people in England called the landed gentry. Members of the landed gentry can be rich, or they can be not so rich. The Bennets are not so rich. The money difficulties of the family drive the story of the novel.
金钱，究竟对恋爱和婚姻的影响有多大？对这个时下热门话题，奥斯汀也给出了她的见解。书中她刻画了几种不同的婚姻和爱情关系。有盲目的激情之爱, 也有为了巩固家庭的经济或社会地位的实用之爱，当然，更有植根于个人内心情感、两情相悦的真爱。 尽管新人们都走进了婚姻的殿堂, 但他们的幸福度却各不相同。个中滋味，还需读者慢慢品鉴。
In the end, Elizabeth and Darcy overcome the obstacles in their way to end up together. Elizabeth teaches Darcy to be less prejudiced, and she herself learns to be a little less proud. Jane, the oldest Bennet daughter, and her lover, Charles Bingley, also get engaged. Lydia finds herself a husband too – the good-for-nothing George Wickham. These marriages give Austen’s novel a happy ending.
But if this humorous entertainment ends with marriages, as all romances do, we should also not forget those who do not find husbands, like the Bennet daughters Kitty and Mary. Nor should we forget Charlotte Lucas, who marries the horrible William Collins simply because she has to and wants to help her parents financially.
Pride and Prejudice shows that for every lucky Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, who marry happily in the novel, there were a dozen other women in Austen’s time who lived without their contentment.