If you watched Bridget Jones's Diary back in 2001, it wasn't entirely clear whether matters had gotten better, or worse, for women in the centuries since the publication of the film's inspiration, Pride and Prejudice.
Bridget's desire to leave behind her chaotic, single existence and form a stable future filled with minibreaks, echoed the historic female preoccupation with securing domestic security by finding a man.
Yet, on the 200-year anniversary of the publication of Austen's witty tale about the economics of romance, an interesting survey by Scottish Widows has revealed the new relationship advice Mr Bennet would now be giving his five daughters for the future.
While Austen's female protagonists in Pride and Prejudice sought marriage for economic reasons, less than one in three parents today believe their daughters’ financial stability is dependent on having a husband.
In fact, according to a survey of 1,000 families, more parents believe their sons’ financial security is dependent on having a wife (37.7%) than their daughters’ is on having a husband (31.9%).
In the 1800s, parents did not just advise, they made the decisions for their children, according to social historian Professor Jane Humphries, professor of economic history at Oxford University.
However these days, say Scottish Widows, parents encourage children to make their own decisions and most (77.3%) want them to be financially independent by age 26.
"It is unlikely parents will be able to influence their child’s choice of marriage partner given modern ideas about the basis for a lasting and stable marriage, people marry for love and not expedience – in fact parents might be even more convinced about these ideas than children," Humphries tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle
But she also notes that parents can have an indirect influence on their children's marriage prospects.
"Sending children to university not only helps them acquire credentials and training but ensures they mix with (and hopefully marry) a similarly advantaged young person.
"Human capital is today’s kind of dowry but it’s a bride-price too!"
Here are some more life lessons from Jane Austen, according to Zoë Triska, associate books editor, The Huffington Post US
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man who has his life together must be in want of a committed relationship.
The first sentence of <em>Pride and Prejudice</em> reads "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This quote might seem dated, but we think we can find a modern interpretation in here (see above). A man who does not have his life together is NOT a good person to pursue for a committed relationship. It is an easy mistake to make, since men who don't have their lives together seem so appealing. However, they'll never give you what you want! I've learned this the hard way many a time.
We don't ALWAYS know what's best for our friends.
In <em>Emma</em>, Emma could not be more wrong about everyone she sets up with her friend Harriet. Emma refuses to accept Harriet's love for the poor farmer, Robert Martin, thinking that he is beneath Harriet. I have to admit, that there are times where I've unfairly judged friends' boyfriends based on silly things. As long as there is no abuse of any kind and the significant other treats your friend very well, you don't really NEED to know what your friend sees in them. You're not dating the person; your friend is!
It's important to know what you want, and SAY what you want.
<em>Pride and Prejudice</em>'s Elizabeth Bennet is no shrinking violet. She turns down Mr. Collins's marriage proposal, she calls Mr. Darcy on his BS, she puts Mr. Bingley's sisters in their places. She is a strong woman. People can't be expected to know what you want, and you need to believe that you deserve what you want. Ask for that raise, finally! Never hide what you truly want, or you'll never get it.
Sometimes, the perfect guy you've looking for is right in front of you.
When I read <em>Emma</em> for the first time, I was thinking, <em>Come on, you moron! Marry Mr. Knightley! He's so wonderful! You laugh together! He's not afraid to tell you when you're wrong! YOU ARE PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER!</em> I admit, it's really hard to see a situation that clearly when you're in it, though. But let me tell you something: If your best friend is a straight man, and you love him to death, and he makes you laugh until you cry, and he also comforts you when you are upset, and brings you chicken soup when you're sick, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? You simply must see if there's anything there (and from personal experience, you really don't know until you try).
Being demure and meek is boring.
Can we talk about how <em>Pride and Prejudice</em>'s Jane is the most BORING character of all time? She brings new meaning to the term plain-Jane. I understand that she is meant as a foil in many ways to the bold and brazen Elizabeth. But I learned very quickly that I did NOT want to be the girl who just said "okay" to everything and never spoke her mind. (this video doesn't accurately portray the boring-ness of Jane, but that's because I couldn't find anything else about her...probably because she is so boring).
'Cool' guys actually kind of suck.
In <em>Emma</em>, Emma swoons over the posh, handsome Frank Churchill and just KNOWS he returns her feelings because he is ridiculously flirty. Then, she finds out that he's been engaged to Jane Fairfax the entire time. In<em> Pride and Prejudice</em>, Elizabeth falls for the dashing soldier Wickham who fills her head with lots of lies. Then he ends up running off with her younger sister and trying to get money out of Mr. Darcy. In <em>Sense & Sensibility</em>, Marianne crushes on John Willoughby, who seems so cultured and smooth, in addition to being SUPER hot. Willoughby eventually says that he is being sent to London on business, indefinitely. These guys were all really cool, suave guys, the men that all the women swooned over. In real life (just as in Jane Austen's books), these guys tend to be total a-holes who will ditch you as soon as you seem genuinely interested (or might even already be secretly engaged to your friend).
Elizabeth turns down two proposals in <em>Pride and Prejudice</em>, and she still ends up happily ever after with the man she loves. Charlotte ends up marrying one of Elizabeth's rejected suitors, and ends up unhappy. In <em>Mansfield Park</em>, Maria Bertram accepts Mr. Rushworth's proposal out of fear of being alone, and she ends up divorced and disgraced. Before Emma realizes what an idiot she has been for not realizing she and Mr. Knightley are perfect for each other, she resigns herself to being alone (and seems pretty fine with it). At the end of the day, it's never okay to settle for someone who is not worthy of you! It is much better to be single than to be attached and miserable.
Your family may be super annoying, but they're still your family.
Look, I know that families are tough. Mothers can be overbearing and crazy, even when you're grown up and live on your own. Elizabeth's mother in Pride & Prejudice is extremely embarrassing, obnoxious and obsessed with class. Her younger sisters, Lydia and Kitty, are silly and boy crazy, and Mary is a stick in the mud. However, you don't get to pick your family! And sometimes, you just have to suck it up and deal with them because at the end of the day, you love one another!