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How does Austen use the character of Mr Collins?

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Introduction

How does Austen use the character of Mr Collins? Jane Austen portrays the characters in many different ways. There is a wide range of backgrounds and personalities of the people within the novel and also a wide range of character development. The use of flat characters in Pride and Prejudice is mainly to show consequences of having a flat, undeveloped personality such as leading a dull and boring life, being miserable throughout marriage, not getting what is desired from life, and being a social outcast. Jane Austen's use of flat characters is very important in Pride and Prejudice. There is a similarity to modern life (20th century) with the use of flat characters in this 19th century novel. Modern society portrays flat characters as outcasts also and socially ancient. Austen uses a variety of comic techniques to express her own view on characters, she introduces false impressions and character foils to further show how ridiculous a character may be. Pride and Prejudice has many character foils to exaggerate a characters faults or traits. Austen also uses irony quite often to inform the readers on her own personal opinions. The comic techniques, false impressions, irony, and satire not only helped to provide humour for Austen's readers, but they also helped Austen to give her own personal opinion on public matters. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth's refusal hurts his pride: "in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made to you". Mr Collins is "fond of making long and silly speeches and stating formalities which have absolutely no meaning in themselves". Therefore Austen allows Mr Collins' words to convey him as an obsequious, supercilious man and allows the reader to share Elizabeth's dislike of and amusement at his antics. While claiming that he possesses much admiration for the opposite gender, it becomes apparent that this is actually not true. When coming to Longbourn with the idea of marrying one of the daughters, he settles on Elizabeth as a second choice: "Mr Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth - and it was soon done - done while Mrs Bennet was stirring the fire. Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and beauty, succeeded her of course". Later on Mr Collins confirms the fact that he thinks that men are superior: "...I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgement in all matters within the scope of your understanding". Clearly, Mr Collins genuinely believes that females are inferior to males; his words indicate this attitude. This, however, was the general view in the nineteenth century, and by using the ridiculous character of Mr Collins to present this true representation of the society, Austen recognises that this opinion is unjust. ...read more.

Conclusion

Getting married was a top priority for almost every character in Pride and Prejudice. It was no surprise when Mr Collins asked Charlotte to be his wife she accepted without hesitation. Charlotte had never shown any signs of love or sweet emotion towards him and she was never really interested in any prospect of marriage. Therefore, we are led to believe that Charlotte married Mr Collins just to be married. There was no love shared prior to their marriage and after they were married, they led a pretty dull life and had generally the same schedule day after day. This couples development is limited by phasing them out of the novel. There is not much said about the Collins' after they marry. Austen's use of Mr Collins and Charlotte as flat characters is to show that marrying just to be married can lead to an unhappy life and to show the importance of marrying for love, this can be linked to a variety of main themes in the novel, such as marriage for security and perhaps reputation. In conclusion I feel that Austen uses the character of Mr Collins very well in a way that it is the minor characters that provide the basis and understanding of many of the events and it is they who provide much that is memorable in the novel. Austen's subtle characterisation, through their own words and actions rather than authorial description, invites readers to share her amusement and ironic understanding of both the situations and characters she describes. Alison Ignacio 1 ...read more.

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