In today's world, there is a great deal less thought put toward social status of individuals getting married; in essence, the matter has become almost solely dependent upon the couples feelings toward one another and decision to be wed. Yet, as Howell portrays, marriage used to be a matter that was much more concerning to a family unit. Social status, manners, and wealth were all very important subjects when creating marriage ties between families. Even as Tom and Pen are negotiating their marriage agreement, Tom notes that "We have our ways, and you have yours; and while I don't say but what you and my mother and sister would be a little strange together at first, it would soon wear off on both sides" (356). Ultimately, this conversation attributes to the idea that marriage is a matter of social customs and classes, and without a similar match, controversy can arise. In today's world, this scenario rarely, if ever comes into great effect when marriage is purposed, though money is still a matter of importance.
Ultimately, The Rise of Silas Lapham is a book that vividly depicts the progress our society has made since the time of Howells. Not only has our world become infatuated with equality and commonality, but removed any stigma which suggests a hierarchy of individuals in society. A poor individual is no less qualified to marry a rich individual than two wealthy citizens are one another. Yet, statistics have suggested that marriages have a higher likelihood of ending in divorce than previous to this day and age. I wonder, were the citizens of Howells time right by inflicting tight parameters on marriage agreements? Should marriage be more cautiously pursued between two "loving" individuals as in Howell's time?