George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s marriage is one of the least beneficial pairings in the novel, for both people. Though their economic and social situations appear to be well matched at first glance, their personal spending habits and the circumstances surrounding their relationship undermine this impression.
Lydia’s reputation is restored by her family’s concern for the legality of their relationship, and though Lydia appears oblivious to the social repercussions of eloping, she is protected from self-destruction and disgrace by Mr. Darcy’s compassion.
With this example of marriage as a guide, Austen criticizes the imbalance between societal expectations placed on men and women, the pressure to legalize a male-female marriage through marriage, and the financial incentives that frequently influenced a man’s behavior.
Wickham is presented as someone who will not marry Lydia, and his prior treatment of Georgiana suggests that he has no desire to do so. When Lydia rushes off with him, she is ignorant regarding his repute. Even if she had been aware of it, her youth and lack of experience would have prevented her from understanding all that was going on by eloping with him.
However, the author does not reveal Lydia’s feelings during this time, but she does allow the reader insight through Elizabeth’s thoughts, specifically her statement that “Lydia did not appear to be deliberately participating in an elopement without the intention of marriage,” as well as other events detailed later in the narrative. It was considered immoral for a woman to elope with a male partner, especially if it resulted in no wedding contract.
Lydia would not have been able to continue her life if she had not married Wickham, but her reputation would have been tainted and severely limited both her and her siblings’ chances of marriage because reputation was such a crucial social issue at the time when it came to evaluating women as suitable for marriage. This is why the family’s news that Lydia is returning as Wickham’s wife is so heartening.
This event, while also functioning as a means for Austen to display Darcy’s excellent character to her readers, shows how important marriage was at the time. It looks like “the sense of guilt” that had been surrounding the elopement vanishes at least for Mrs. Bennet, who is overjoyed about having a daughter who is now married (Austen 472).
Lydia’s situation develops in the same manner. Mr. Bennet’s thoughts about how he “would hardly be ten pounds a year poorer” because Lydia’s dowry allowance was not much greater than what she had already gotten as an allowance (Austen, 471).
Mr. Darcy’s generosity in paying off Wickham is likely the primary reason he consented to marry Lydia since most people would not enter into a marriage with so little financial gain for themselves unless they were given some other incentive. Given Lydia’s landed gentry family and Wickham’s militia employment, their expenditure patterns do not correlate.
As the reader already knows, Lydia is a voracious consumer, and Wickham has a history of financial difficulties. Elizabeth thinks they will not be “supported in decent independence” due to their lack of financial planning, and she is correct when Lydia states that being so rich “is a much relief,” implying that the pair would require all possible assistance from their relatives (Austen 479 585).
From the examples above, it is clear that Lydia and Wickham’s marriage, which straddles the line between socially unacceptable, is not only unprofitable for both of them but also unethical.
As a result, it may be viewed as an example of the more scandalous side of marriage during this time period: a woman’s reliance on her reputation, and the role of marital law in preserving the said reputation and ensuring she was properly supplied for by both her family and her spouse.
Lydia and Wickham’s relationship goes against social conventions at the time, being driven by passion and desire, qualities that were not recommended as a tool to acquire spouses.
Lydia so unashamedly confesses her misadventures in Brighton that led to her gaining Wickham’s hand (Austen, 483) to her sisters, which may be seen as Austen commenting on marriage customs as well as financial, legal, and other motives that drove people into marital agreements.
Lydia eloped with Wickham when she was young and innocent, as she had chosen to do. George won her over in a matter of weeks. The girl was unaware of Wickham’s checkered past. She didn’t recognize the true purpose behind his marriage proposal.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet is a character who appears in the book’s second half. Lydia is the youngest of the Bennet sisters and Mrs. Bennet’s favorite child. The girl was disinterested in her education.
Instead, she liked gossiping, wasting money, and flirting with males. It’s easy to see why George Wickham took advantage of such a carefree young woman like Lydia. Lydia agreed to go on George Wickham’s journey expecting a nice marriage and lots of adventure along the way.
Lydia was besotted. She was oblivious to Wickham’s sordid past and despicable reputation. George attempted to flee with Darcy’s sister Georgiana in order to gain access to her family’s money. As a result, his elopement with Lydia appeared unlikely to result in marriage, owing to his financial problems. Wickham sought a quick remedy for his money worries, whereas Lydia longed for love and adventure at the age of 15.
Elizabeth was aware of Wickham’s connection to Georgiana. Elizabeth revealed the blackmail to Darcy. In order to protect Lydia’s reputation, Darcy paid Wickham off so they could marry each other. Mr. Gardiner oversaw the wedding ceremony, and Lydia became Wickham’s wife. She had no idea about his questionable behavior toward women.