Inheritance was by descent, but could be further restricted by entailment , which would restrict inheritance to male heirs only. In the case of the Bennet family, Mr. Collins was to inherit the family estate upon Mr. Bennet's death and his proposal to Elizabeth would have ensured her future security. Nevertheless, she refuses his offer. Inheritance laws benefited males because most women did not have independent legal rights until the second half of the 19th century. As a consequence, women's financial security at that time depended on men. For the upper-middle and aristocratic classes, marriage to a man with a reliable income was almost the only route to security for the woman and her future children.  The irony of the novel's opening line, therefore, is that generally within this society it would be a woman who would be looking for a wealthy husband in order to have prosperous life.
Television director Joe Wright was hired in early 2004,  making Pride & Prejudice his directional feature film debut.  He was considered a surprising choice for a film in the romance drama genre due to his past work with social realism .   Wright's body of work had impressed the producers,  who were looking for a fresh perspective;  they sent him a script despite the fact that Wright had not read the novel.   He commented that at the time, "I didn't know if I was really all that interested; I thought I was a little bit more mainstream than this, a bit more edgy. But then I read the script and I was surprised I was very moved by it".  He next read the novel, which he called "an amazing piece of character observation and it really seemed like the first piece of British Realism. It felt like it was a true story; had a lot of truth in it about understanding how to love other people, understanding how to overcome prejudices, understanding the things that separate us from other people ... things like that." 
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