GRE Reading Comprehension: PPO-GRE阅读PPO - OUW139BK3VZO9314S

A widespread concern in early eighteenth-century Britain that the institution of marriage was deteriorating into a mere business agreement, a cynical means of increasing wealth, was reflected in the media of the time. In the theater, for example, the Restoration comedy of manners, with its celebration of libertinism and portrayal of marriage as a social, and therefore artificial, institution, gave way to sentimental comedies like The Conscious Lovers, which celebrated the pure, instinctive love of its central characters while downplaying matters of wealth and status. New periodicals, such as the wildly popular Spectator, devoted many issues to the evils of mercenary marriages and to the glories of choosing love over money. However, the very popularity of such works calls into question the existence of any real trend toward mercenary marriage. Admittedly, the growing use and complexity of marriage settlements (the transfer of family property from one generation to the next upon a daughter's marriage) during this period meant that among the elite, at least, marriage contracts looked increasingly like business contracts. However, it should be noted that marriage had long been used by the elite to cement political or social bonds and to enhance family wealth.