Mr. Weston’s first marriage with Miss Churchill was an “unsuitable connection” that “did not produce much happiness.” Because Mr. Weston was from a lower class than his wife, his wife’s family disapproved of the match. Mrs. Weston, although she loved Mr. Weston, also missed the luxuries of her former lifestyle.
The importance of social class in making a good marriage “match” is highlighted in Mr. Weston’s first marriage, which despite being a love match is unhappy because of the social and familial pressures resulting from the mismatch in social class.
Three years after their marriage, Mrs. Weston died and left Mr. Weston with a boy child and even less money than he started out with because of their high spending. The childless Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, the late Mrs. Weston’s brother and his wife, adopted the child as their own heir in a reconciliation of sorts between the two families.
Mr. Weston’s first marriage leaves him slightly older and wiser, as well as significantly poorer and unhappier. If the Churchills had not had a turn of heart and adopted his son, he would have been in a much more difficult situation.
Mr. Weston then worked for about twenty years to secure his fortune, leaving the militia for the trade industry. When Miss Taylor caught his eye, he responsibly purchased the small estate of Randalls before proposing marriage. His second marriage with this “well-judging and truly amiable woman” is comfortable and delightful, a much happier and more suitable match than his first.
Mr. Weston learns the importance of securing financial security, a more even match in social class, and solid character qualities with his second marriage. When he is interested in Miss Taylor, he ensures that he has also followed the pragmatic and socially prescribed prerequisites to marriage, like buying suitable property.
The village looks forward to the visit of Frank Churchill, the son of Mr. Weston’s first marriage, who is expected to visit on the occasion of his father’s second marriage. Mr. Weston brings back glowing reports of his son on his annual visits to London, where the Churchills live, and the village has come to feel a degree of pride in him as well—even though he has never returned his father’s visits and come to see him in Highbury. There is much gossip about the congratulatory letter that Frank has written to Mrs. Weston, in which he promises to finally visit.
The reputation of Frank precedes his physical introduction to Highbury. Though only Mr. Weston has met him, the village’s adoring adoption of this high society Churchill highlights the influence of social class in the community; it not only predisposes the community to like him, but also to forget and forgive his lack of any physical visits despite his letters.