Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"But Father, I wish to marry for love"

I always get a little annoyed when watching or reading a modern historical show/novel where the main character is convinced that he/she has the right to marry for love.

Up until about a hundred years ago, marrying for love was unheard of. You married a person that helped expand the family property, such as your neighbor with the large homestead. You married to improve your social standing, such as a rich privateer looking out for a poor baronnet or viscount for his heavily dowried daughter. You married to combine two companies, such as the mercantile and the confectionery getting their kids together. Marrying well used to be a duty that a child owed his or her parents. In many societies and religions, the husband and wife hadn't even met before the wedding took place.

In the movie "Fiddler on the Roof," this idealism is explored extensively. The main couple were put together by a matchmaker, and came to love each other. Their children, however, married for love, even after contracts had been made on their behalf.

Currently, in the "Game of Thrones" books, the arranged marriage is in the forefront. The marriages are both happy and unhappy, and in some cases, both parts of the couple are held together by their sense of duty alone.

It's an odd part of our current ideals: dowries have been exchanged for rings, contracts for prenuptial agreements.

But a bride still gets given away, doesn't she?

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