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Discuss the relationship between Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins, taking account of their characters and attitudes and evaluating the prospects for the success of their marriage

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Introduction

Throughout 'Pride and Prejudice' Jane Austen conveys the theme of marriage as being of paramount importance. The theme is introduced in the novel's opening line with the ironic generalisation; "it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This suggests that the sole purpose for marriage was to increase the character's social and financial ranking. The quote mentions nothing of love but promotes the idea that marriage is merely to create security, and nothing else. The novel tells of a number of marriages which take place, the first of which is between Collins and Charlotte Lucas. At the time in which the novel was written it was almost considered indispensable for a young woman like Charlotte to get married. Otherwise she would have to remain dependant on her family and live without any social credibility or financial security, or be forced to seek a position as a governess of a rich family or become a teacher at a boarding school, which was not looked on particularly favourably either. Marriage gave a woman independence, security and a position in society. Spinsterhood, unless the woman was very rich, was not highly thought of. Charlotte herself reflects, marriage "was the only honourable provision for a well-educated woman of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want." It is ironic that although all of Jane Austen's novels have marriage as the main theme, she herself was not married. Charlotte is strong, steady, and good. ...read more.

Middle

After Mr Collins withdraws his offer, Charlotte begins spending more time with him. When the Bennets dine with the Lucases, Charlotte tolerates Mr Collins well, she is described "so kind as to listen to Mr Collins". Elizabeth appreciates this and when she thanks her, Charlotte schemingly "assured her friend of her satisfaction in being useful", when her real intentions actually lay elsewhere. The object of her kindness was in fact "nothing less than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins's addresses, by engaging them towards herself." Elizabeth and the rest of the Bennets were completely unaware at this stage that Charlotte hoped to win Mr Collins over and get a proposal for herself. Evidently, her plan was successful as Collins returns to the Lucases home the next morning and proposes. She accepts, not for love of course, but for security. Charlotte was concerned about telling her dear Elizabeth. Would she understand? Charlotte doubted it. Elizabeth's ideals did not match her own, and she feared Elizabeth, and Jane also, may never feel comfortable with her relationship to their kinsman, who would one day be master of the Longbourn estate. Charlotte wisely resolves to inform Elizabeth of the engagement herself. Elizabeth's reaction to the news is one of shock and also disappointment; "Engaged to Mr. Collins! My dear Charlotte-impossible!" After her initial disbelief, Elizabeth regains composure and strives to be polite to her old friend, but it is obvious she believes their relationship will be somewhat altered. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is hardly the basis for a marriage, but Charlotte has gone into it with her eyes open, and her evenness of temper and admirable organisations and restraint provide another comment on the nature of this marriage itself. I believe that the "novelty" of her new life waring off will not be a problem for Charlotte in the future of this marriage as she never had any romantic expectations and therefore will suffer no disappointment. She knew exactly what she was doing and was happy to take advantage of the opportunity to get married when it presented itself. Charlotte now has wealth, security and a place in society. These positive aspects of her relationship with Collins are certain in her future. These positive aspects can only be enhanced further down the line, for instance, when the couple inherit the Bennett's estate. I believe Collin's bumptious, annoying character is unlikely to get any worse and therefore in the future Charlotte is likely to grow in proficiency at enduring her husband's inadequacies, if they do not diminish as time goes on. Charlotte's consistency of character is the signifcant factor to the future success of their relationship; she will focus on the positive aspects of her practical relationship and not become dejected by the absence of love and mutual understanding in her marriage. ?? ?? ?? ?? Benjamin Knox Pride and Prejudice Coursework Discuss the relationship between Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins, taking account of their characters and attitudes and evaluating the prospects for the success of their marriage Benjamin Knox Pride and Prejudice Coursework ...read more.

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