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In Pride and Prejudice, Mr Wickham and Mr Collins are unsuitable marriage partners for Elizabeth. Explain Why.

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Introduction

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr Wickham and Mr Collins are unsuitable marriage partners for Elizabeth. Explain Why. Jane Austen makes it very clear to the reader of Pride and Prejudice that, in her belief, marriage was often undertaken by society for incorrect reasons. She places far more emphasis on moral characteristics as opposed to factors such as how romantic a person is, looks or wealth for instance. It is for this reason that Mr Wickham and Mr Collins are unsuitable marriage partners for a person with such integrity and beliefs such as Elizabeth - the moral heroine of the novel. Mr Wickham is seemingly devoid of morals, but certainly not amoral as he takes great pains in order to spin a facade of integrity around his true personality. He achieves this with his skilful rhetoric and charm; he also makes full use of his good looks, applying a polished surface to his camouflage. To protect Elizabeth from appearing gullible, Jane Austen plays a literary trick on the reader in the sixteenth chapter; she uses the fact that the reader empathises with Elizabeth to make Wickham appear a decent person at first glance. This starts with Wickham's entrance into the house: "when Mr Wickham walked into the room, Elizabeth felt that she had neither been seeing him before, nor thinking of him since, with the smallest degree of unreasonable admiration". This shows how her admiration for Mr Wickham stems solely from his physical appearance. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth becomes completely enveloped by Wickham. At one point she thinks of saying "A young man, too, like you, whose very countenance may vouch for your being amiable" - this thought process directly equates looks to how nice a person is. Jane Austen does not believe this is how an intelligent, rational person thinks; she is showing the dangers that looks and skilful rhetoric present to even the most intelligent. This is highlighted by Elizabeth's final impression of Wickham and the fact that she could only think of Mr Wickham: "whatever he did, done gracefully. Elizabeth went away with her head full of him". Although Mr Collins does not have any sinister intent, he too is an unsuitable marriage partner for Elizabeth, and as the opening line of the chapter in which he proposes marriage to her suggests, "The next day opened a new scene at Longbourn", the circumstances surrounding this event are of farcical proportions. Mr Collins is a somewhat pathetic and pompous character; he seemingly knows only what he is told, and plays lap dog to his patroness Lady Catherine. Jane Austen builds Mr Collin's character as being devoid of romance, and although she does not heavily endorse romance, without it, there is no emotion to channel with ones reasoning. What is left is an exceptionally dull shell of a character: Mr Collins. This can be shown by the way in which he prepares to propose and is full of business-like connotations: "Having resolved to do it without loss of time, as his leave of absence extended only to the following Saturday, ...read more.

Conclusion

After Elizabeth leaves the room, Mrs Bennet comes in to talk with Mr Collins. Mr Collins gives an account of the "interview"; resting in the belief that Elizabeth is all but his. Mrs Bennet is disturbed by the fact that Elizabeth says no, realising that she does in fact, mean no. Mrs Bennet calls Elizabeth "headstrong and foolish", in explanation of her rejections of marriage. After hearing this, Mr Collins quickly decides that Elizabeth may well be an unsuitable marriage partner and says, "if she is really is headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation". In a matter of a few lines, Mr Collins has made a total change in opinion. If he really admired Elizabeth as much as he says he does, the emotional reversal would suggest a total lack of reason and logic. Elizabeth has reason and logic in abundance; on the other hand it could suggest that he never really admired Elizabeth to the degree he suggests. Both possibilities provide good reason for Elizabeth and Mr Collins being unsuitable partners. Neither Mr Wickham or Mr Collins are suitable marriage partners for Elizabeth; Wickham lives a life fuelled by deceit and devoid of morals, and it seems Collins has almost no life of his own at all and is a total personality mismatch for Elizabeth. It is for these reasons that Jane Austen's heroine, on her moral high ground and full of character, could never marry either of these men. In the end, there is really only one possible match for Elizabeth Bennet. Christopher de Wardt 1/5/07 ...read more.

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