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I would guess Peacock and Crane is aimed at young women choosing a lifelong husband, and it serves as a useful corrective to the natural inclination to pick the most charming guy. Assuming limited traveling, finding a mate really was zero-sum. Pride & Prejudice and War & Peace have essentially the same moral lesson. All that said, it may still be outdated with the rise of divorce and less downside from a bad marriage -- your kids won't starve to death because you picked a bad farmer.

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