The ethical dilemma of whether itis acceptable to marry for money has been debated among people with conflictingviews through the ages.
When discussing the issue, supporters of this argumentrely on logical reasoning, while adversaries depend on moral values. Whilst,some people may consider it justifiable and others not, there is never acorrect answer to the question, but rather one’s opinion on it. To understand the question that hasbeen put forward, one must know the answer to the following one; what doesmarriage represent? The meaning andpurpose of marriage have changed over time. In early history, money trumpedlove as the motive, and marriage resembled a business arrangement withobligations and responsibilities, excluding passion and intimacy.
Beginningfrom the 18th century, love began to grow in importance; however, the financialposition was still largely taken into consideration. Today, affection is themain reason for marriage among many (“Marriage, a History”). When talking aboutthis issue, it is quite hard not to sound sexist, as the roles of men and womenin a union, through the ages, have been predetermined. Although, nowadays, conditionsare changing, the vast majority still live in families, where the men providefor the family financially, and women are a mean of reproduction and emotionalsupport. It has always been the case, that those who did not follow the sameviews and standards of the majority were considered abnormal and unacceptableto the society. However, one must not “hop on the bandwagon,” meaning that onemust not follow a mainstream idea simply because the greater part of thepopulation does.
This is not to say that love shouldn’t be the primary reasonfor marriage and money ought to, but rather one must not use the majority’sopinion as a basis for their decision-making. In my opinion, it is not sensibleto consider money as the primary reason for marriage, but rather an affectiontowards the partner and his or her virtues; although, it would be foolish tomarry without it.In the past few years, many newssources, such as CNN, The Nation, Psychology Today, and etc., are flooded with articles that arguethat marrying for money is not wrong, and on the contrary, is a good thing. In2010, Forbes published an article, which included an extract from the book”Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Are Getting Shafted by their RomanticExpectations – And What They Can Do About It” by Elizabeth Ford and DanielaDrake. The excerpt conveyed the idea that there is nothing wrong or immoral inbeing a “gold-digger,” and that a smart girl should actually give moresignificance to a man’s earning power, rather than to his virtues and character(Ford and Drake). This article is one from many which support this idea;however, it is dictionally incorrect and utterly fallacious. The adjectivesmercenary, deceptive, and cunning are more attributive to a woman who wouldshare this idea, rather than smart; basically, the female version of Mr.
Wickham. Nowadays, a smart woman would know how to earn her own money andescape the route of tying the knot. Marrying for money basically means that awoman or, generally, a person is confirming his or her greediness, and thatthey value money more than their own happiness and years of life they are consciouslygoing to wastefully spend. It’s true that money can buy luxuries, which forsome may constitute happiness; however, it is short-lived. Moreover, besides condemningthemselves to long-lasting unhappiness, they are also immorally treating their partnerby deceiving them of their love.
Due to shifting labor demographics,today many families are experiencing changes in roles; although conversationssurrounding this issue are still mostly targeted towards women, men should not beexcluded from adhering to the same moral standards. A great satirical example is”Marry for Money,” a music video by Trace Adkins, which shows how a man preferredmarrying for money the second time around, and what consequences it led to. Hesings:Cupid shot me . .
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. . . .. . But that match made in heavenWent straight to hell . .
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. . .. . And I learned a lesson I won’t beforgetting . . .
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I’m gonna marry for money . . . . . . .
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. Find me a sweet sugar mamaWith a whole lot of zeros andcommas Don’t really care if she loves me She can even be ugly I’m gonna marry for money. (5, 7-8,11, 13, 16-20)Whenthe song ends, there is a brief moment that shows how his wife, the old richlady, leaves him for her gardener and consequently abandons him on the street. Undoubtedly,we shouldn’t consider Adkins’ ironic song as a moral authority; however, thestory still comes to prove the point that the issue is also relatable to menand that sooner or later the negative outcomes of marrying for money will be unveiled.A person’s virtues and affectionstowards him or her should be more of an imperative to marriage. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice examines the socialconditions during the 19th century.
However, Austen was significantlyahead of her time, and her lessons give us an insight into what we can considerright or wrong in our own time. In the novel, the main antagonist, Elizabeth, hasbeen portrayed as a very sensible woman, who has a more modernistic view oflife and marriage. She disregarded marrying for money and considered thevirtues of man more attractive than his wealth and social status. Early in thenovel, Elizabeth had been proposed by her father’s cousin, Mr. Collins, who thoughtthat she would agree due to his favorable position; however, she refused saying,”You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman inthe world who would make you so” (Austen).
This statement implies the viewtoward marriage, which Austen considers to be ideal, as love is the foundation ofa marriage. Another value one has to take into consideration is the virtues ofthe person in question. Mr. Wickham is an ideal example of what a person shouldnot be, and how immoral behavior and ill qualities will lead to a negative endresult.
Initially, Elizabeth was in love with Mr. Wickham; however, she changesher attitude towards him, when she finds out about his true nature. “He ischarming and fascinating but lacks the understanding of what virtue is. He is adeceitful, shallow-brained and dissolute man” (Gao 387). Although this isn’tthe best argument for this instance, as there was no financial appeal, it comesto verify virtues being as important as love. One might argue that Mr. Wickhamdid eventually end up having what he wanted, but at what cost? Now, he has tospend his entire life under the torment of Lydia, the flirtatious andempty-headed sister of Elizabeth. It is Mr.
Darcy’s proposal that comes toprove this argument, as he was very wealthy; however, for Elizabeth him being judgmentaland lacking the essential qualities a man needs for marriage, such as integrityand kindness, trumped his favorable financial position. When the amiable and tenderside of Mr. Darcy and his true character comes into view Elizabeth changes her regardand is more sympathetically inclined towards him, and he through this route hewins her heart (Austen). All the arguments that have beenset forth disprove taking money into consideration as a primary motive formarriage as it is an immoral and wrong thing to do.
However, there is an underlyingtruth to Austen’s moral lessons. It is undeniable that wealth and social statuswere a deciding factor when Elizabeth agreed to marry Mr. Darcy, and after all,she was a sensible woman.
After visiting Pemberley, Elizabeth’s opinion of Mr.Darcy changed favorably (Austen); this is not to say that Elizabeth was a “gold-digger,”but rather it wouldn’t be rational not to consider it at all. There is nothingmorally wrong with wanting financial stability, of course, if the latter isgiven less significance compared to love and virtue. In the light of previouslymentioned, the moral predicament of money being the primary motive for marriageis a very arguable matter, and there is no correct answer to it but only one’sjudgment.
My perspective is that marrying simply for financial means is immoraland wrong; although, it would not be sensible to disregard it. The meaning of marriagehas changed throughout history, from being a business arrangement to a union ofaffectionate people. Nowadays, many people share the idea that being a “gold-digger”is not remotely close to being wrong.
However, that opinion is completely fallacious,as it a mercenary and deceptive act, and will never lead to a positive outcome.Love and virtue deserve a higher position as a motive for marriage. “Marriageis associated with property and social status, but it is not resolved by them”(Gao 388).
Through Pride and Prejudice,three pillars of a marital decision-making emerge, from highest significance tolowest: love, virtue, and wealth.