It is not infrequent that Austen's characters express seemingly opposing beliefs. Today I'd like to explore the question of when a man should marry.
Sir Thomas Bertram, Mansfield Park:
"I am an advocate for early marriages, where there are means in
proportion, and would have every young man, with a sufficient income,
settle as soon after four-and-twenty as he can."
Miss Emma Woodhouse, Emma:
"Only four-and-twenty. That is too young to settle ... [thirty] is as early as most men can afford to marry, who are not born to an independence."
I think Austen is trying to tell us that there is no one perfect age for a man to marry, and when we hear someone make vast generalizations on such subjects, we had best consider their motives before heeding their advice.
This was fun.