Charles Darwin Theory Meets Relationship Advice - Darwin's Bridget Jones-esque List of Marriage Pros and Cons

Behind that stern countenance and thick beard is a diary-writing relationship contemplator!
Behind that stern countenance and thick beard is a diary-writing relationship contemplator! | Source

Everybody knows about Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, but the man had a love life too. At one point during his adulthood, Darwin had a Bridget Jones-esque moment of crisis regarding marriage, and decided to make a pro and con list in his very own diary to help him decide whether or not to remain single for the rest of his life.

It is hard to determine what is more amusing about this journal entry - the items themselves, the fact that it bears surprising similarities to the "personal journal genre" of chick lit, or the simple fact that a man who pioneered early thought on such a groundbreaking concept of evolution should nevertheless find himself hemming and hawing over relationships.

I have summarized Darwin's pros and cons of marriage below so that you might find if, according to Darwin's criteria, YOU should get married!

Darwin's Marriage Pros and Cons - In the original journal!
Darwin's Marriage Pros and Cons - In the original journal! | Source

The Pros of Marriage

The following items, according to Darwin, are the upsides of married life:

  • Children
  • A constant friend in life
  • A companion in old age
  • An object to be loved and to play with ("better [sic] than a dog anyhow")
  • Good for one's health
  • Someone to take care of one in old age
  • A second life

The prospect of a spouse: "better than a dog anyhow"
The prospect of a spouse: "better than a dog anyhow" | Source
"I should have just gotten a dog"
"I should have just gotten a dog" | Source

The Cons of Marriage

Darwin knew that marriage is by no means a perfect arrangement.  The downsides of marriage, according to this famous man, are as follows:

  • "Terrible loss of time"
  • Freedom to go where one wants to go
  • Freedom to choose who to hang out with - or to withdraw to solitude
  • Freedom to hang out with the guys: "Conversation of clever men at clubs"
  • The bliss of not being forced to visit relatives 
  • No being forced to "bend in every trifle"
  • No stress of having children
  • Avoidance of "fatness & idleness"
  • Less cash for books (this is my favorite argument)
  • No need to take on extra work in order to support many children
  • No risk of having to move out of the city (London, in Darwin's case) should the wife not like urban life

Darwin did not want to be all by himself- and wrote as much in his diary - just like Bridget Jones

Darwin's Final Decision

In the end, Charles Darwin decided to get married.  His final decision can be very well summed up with this typically Darwinistic paragraph from his journalized inner debate:

My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. — No, no won't do. — Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. — Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps — Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro' St. Marry — Marry — Marry Q.E.D.

That's rather touching, isn't it?

According to Charles Darwin's criteria, should you get married? Take the quiz and find out!

The Value of Pro and Con Lists - PROVEN!

I hope you have found Darwin's conjecture on the concept of marriage to be both informative and amusing. Not sure whether or not marriage is right for you? Well, I think the biggest take-away here is that pro and con lists are totally acceptable, so make your own! Even if your pro and con list includes some funny points, don't feel ashamed. If Darwin can throw in notes about dogs and money for books, you certainly have the right to bemoan the prospect of regularly having to put the toilet seat down or not eat ice cream out of the tub on the couch every night while watching DVR'd soaps.

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Comments 12 comments

larryfreeman profile image

larryfreeman 5 years ago from Fremont, CA

Great hub. Fascinating read.

I think that his arguments apply more to having kids than to getting married. Though, you have to admire his faith that divorce wouldn't enter the picture ("a friend for life").

Darwin's cons assumes that marriage is necessarily a drain on the finances. Of course, if he married a wealthy wife, there might well be more cash for books. :-)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Larry!

You make a good point - though I suppose divorce was much less of a factor those days! You have to also give the man points for actually planning to accommodate his future wife, as many husbands of the time would leave their wives and enjoy "Conversation of clever men at clubs" and London high life in spite of any marriage.

And your point about finances is another very good one! Emma Darwin (nee Wedgwood) was of the Wedgwood family of pottery fame!!! I doubt she put any sort of pinch on the man's library collection.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks

Poor Darwin! Guess he never realized you can have children without getting married.;-> Sometimes people are so blinded by the social mores of the day.

Anyway, I did not know about this list, so I certainly learned something new here. Rated up!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Aya!

Yeah, things sure were different in those times. But the dresses were so dern cute!!!!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California

I'd say his lists are perfectly true, if missing an item here or there. What a fun and great way to generate a hub. :)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, Shadesbreath! I simply think that something this awesome by a famous person deserves as much coverage as possible ^_^


emdi profile image

emdi 5 years ago

Very interesting article. I love this. Darwin is a great guy. He made the whole bunch of scientists believe that (amazingly even now) our forefathers were monkeys.

I am wondering about the situation of his wife ( the pros of marriage - An 'object' to be loved and to play with).


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Haha, I don't know about you, but what with thinking of women as objects, I would even venture to hypothesize that our FATHERS were monkeys XD

Re: women as 'objects' - I do appreciate Darwin's candor - if that's how he thinks of things, he should not delude himself otherwise in his journal, no? I mean, heck, goodness knows I only want a guy because I need someone to tell me knock knock jokes.


ekenzy profile image

ekenzy 5 years ago

history is very important to every human. nice hub really.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, ekenzy!!


Andy McGuire profile image

Andy McGuire 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

An enjoyable article! I found it "suggested" under one of my articles (I'm new here, BTW). The quiz seems to be broken though.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Welcome to HubPages, Andy! I'm glad you stopped by this Hub. I'll have a look at that quiz- thanks for pointing out the problem!

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