How did a dowry work in Pride and Prejudice? I’m reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (yet again), and I’ve realized that I really don’t understand how a dowry works. Is it paid only once? Or is it a yearly thing? How is the amount determined? Where did the idea of paying a dowry come from? It seems to me that once a woman married, she was to be taken care of by her husband, and no longer considered her father’s. When a man asked the father if he could marry his daughter, it seems that the father would rather say no, as to keep his beloved daughter at home. Why did he further have to PAY to have her taken by another man?And bonus question: Specifically in Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet makes a huge deal about Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley bringing in a lot of money. How does this affect her and her husband? Do they see any of this money?(I’m referring specifically to the type of dowry, if there are different types, that is in the novel)
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If you have no parents, the king pays for a dowry. You are given a few chickens, a cow and some money to settle down. It’s only given once, that’s why men went after women with large dowries.
Mrs Bennet wants her daughters to marry well because she of course wants the best for them, but also because if her daughters’ husbands are wealthy, then the can be assured that they’ll be taken care of in their old age.The Bennets would pay Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley a dowry for Jane and Elizabeth. This is a one-time payment. The amount is determined by how much the woman’s family has and how much they can afford.
Dowries worked differently in different times and different countries. In some places, it WAS a payment to the groom’s family to take the bride off their hands. In P&P, the dowry was technically supposed to take care of the bride if anything happened to the husband. In practice, the money immediately belonged to the husband, and sometimes he would waste it all.The money could either be handed over as a lump sum, or it could be an investment that was reassigned to the bride and groom. That’s what they’re talking about when they say “this many pounds a year” – it’s an investment that yields that much interest. For instance, property that grew so many bushels of crops or wool that could be sold for a certain amount.One of the reasons Jane Austen is always talking about money is because she thinks it has a lot to do with how happy people wind up being, and she wants to point out that the financial system at the time was unfair to women.
Simple!A dowry (also known as trousseau or tocher) is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her new husband. Compare bride price, which is paid to the bride’s parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both dowry and bride price. The dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate records of it.owry was widely practiced in Europe at all times. In Homeric times, the usual Greek practice was to give a brideprice, and dowries were also exchanged in the later classical time (5th century BC). Ancient Romans also practiced dowry, though Tacitus notes that the Germanic tribes practiced the reverse custom of the dower.Failure to provide a customary, or agreed-upon, dowry could call off a marriage. William Shakespeare made use of this in King Lear: one of Cordelia’s wooers ceases to woo her on hearing that King Lear will give her no dowry. And in Measure for Measure, Claudio and Juliet’s premarital sex was brought about by their families’ wrangling over dowry after the betrothal, and Angelo’s motive for forswearing his betrothal with Mariana is the loss of her dowry at sea.Folklorists often interpret the fairy tale Cinderella as the competition between the stepmother and the stepdaughter for resources, which may include the need to provide a dowry. Gioacchino Rossini’s opera La Cenerentola makes this economic basis explicit: Don Magnifico wishes to make his own daughters’ dowry larger, to attract a grander match, which is impossible if he must provide a third dowry.One common penalty for the kidnapping and rape of an unmarried woman was that the abductor or rapist had to provide the woman’s dowry, which was until the late 20th century the wreath money, or the breach of promise. (See raptio and bride kidnapping.)Providing dowries for poor women was regarded as a form of charity. The custom of Christmas stockings springs from a legend of St. Nicholas, in which he threw gold in the stockings of three poor sisters, thus providing for their dowries. St. Elizabeth of Portugal and St. Martin de Porres were particularly noted for providing such dowries, and the Archconfraternity of the Annunciation, a Roman charity dedicated to providing dowries, received the entire estate of Pope Urban VII. The French crown provided dowries for many of the women who were persuaded to settle New France, and they were known as filles du roy (daughters of the king).In some parts of Europe, land dowries were common. In Grafschaft Bentheim, for instance, parents who had no sons might give a land dowry to their new son-in-law, with the condition that he take the surname of his bride. The Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay), which is one of the biggest cities in the world, and the city of Tangiers, in Morrocco, were given as a dowry by the Portuguese crown to the British when King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland married Catherine of Braganza, a princess of Portugal in 1661.In Victorian England, it was seen as an early payment of her inheritance, such that only daughters who had not received their dowry were entitled to part of the estate when their parents died, and if the couple died without children, the dowry was returned to the bride’s family.In some cases, nuns would be required to bring a dowry when joining a convent.In Europe and Western culture in general it is still common for the bride’s family to pay for the majority of the wedding costs.