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Commentary on "Mr, Collins's proposal" from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin

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Introduction

Commentary on "Mr, Collins's proposal" from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin By Sylvia Palmai This passage from Jane Austin's "Pride and Prejudice" significantly depicts the conventional way men perceived women's role in their lives during the 18th century. Love as such didn't exist, but the emphasis was placed on finding the convenient partnership between sons and daughters of families, who have great social status and prosperous backgrounds. This can be immediately perceived from Mr. Collins's introduction to Elizabeth Bennett, to whom he is about to propose. He explains that as a successful and wealthy clergyman, he must have a wife by his side. The way in which he talks about women and marriage itself, gives an impression that he would see Elizabeth as a possession he could add to his long chain of conquests. Marriage seems to be a method of fulfilment to him, to complete his live. This can be observed by Mr. Collins's following quote: "My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it is a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish". He continues to explain how his possible marriage to Elizabeth would bring him happiness. This adds to the humour of the passage, since Mr. Collins seems to be unconscious of his evident selfishness. He can't understand how any woman would reject him in general, as he assumes they would all be pleased with a husband of his circumstances. ...read more.

Middle

It is similar to an examination, where Elizabeth must meet the qualities expected of her. Ironically enough Mr. Collins can only praise Lady Catherine, though in fact she is a deceiving and ruthless character as it turns out later in the book. Mr. Collins continues his unconvincing proposal, without Elizabeth's interruption. It is interesting that she remained quiet for such a long time, though she knew what her answer would be in the end. Her polite nature contrasts well with his arrogant and persistent one. The next reason Mr. Collins lists as a reason for marrying Elizabeth is that he will inherit their estate after her fathers death, and by marrying her, he will minimize the pain for at least one of his daughters. This comment is completely inappropriate, as it not only mentions how her father's death will be to his advantage, but exposes his materialistic intentions in this marriage. He is not doing a convincing job at showing sincere interest in her, mainly because he isn't genuinely after her specifically, but the possession of an attractive wife and the financial advantages of marrying into the Bennett family. He clearly isn't motivated by love in the least, but a greedy thirst for money and personal fulfilment. His next quote to Elizabeth is explaining his "violent love" for her, which sounds threatening and possessive, showing his dominant personality, which cannot handle rejection. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mr. Collins realises this, and firmly states that "I cannot imagine her ladyship would at all disapprove of you". He is trying to assure her of his sincere feelings for her, but he is unconvincing due to his past comments. From the beginning of his speech, his self-centred ruthless and materialistic characteristics shined through. Elizabeth saw through his true intentions of gaining their land, their money, and the acceptance of Lady Catherine. Elizabeth stands out as the most genuine character, seeing as she rejects the conventional beliefs of the 1800's, and finds money an insignificant factor in determining a marriage choice. She admitted earlier that Mr. Collins could not make her happy, which reveals that it is only love she needs in a relationship, not money. The reason this passage is so amusing is due to Mr. Collins's untactful behaviour with Elizabeth. He didn't begin with getting to know Elizabeth, or finding out whether they would make a good husband and wife. His main instinct was to pick out an attractive wife who he could allure with his financial promises. He was unaware that throughout their first conversation, he was unconsciously insulting her, and acting patronisingly materialistically. Whilst Mr. Collins was self-assured and believed he could easily convince Elizabeth to spend the rest of her life with him, she easily saw through him, and exposed his true intentions with her. Elizabeth acted according to her instincts, and failed to accept the conventions that society has placed on her, marking her as a key character in the book. 1 ...read more.

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