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What do you learn about Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from their acquaintance with Mr Collins? How does this reflect what we already know of these characters? (Answer based on Chapters 1 " 23)

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Introduction

What do you learn about Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from their acquaintance with Mr Collins? How does this reflect what we already know of these characters? (Answer based on Chapters 1 - 23) Mr Collins introduction in the novel welcomes a new and interesting aspect to the already dramatic story that is Pride and Prejudice. From their acquaintance with him, we learn that the good friends Elizabeth and Charlotte have contrasting views of marriage, the former possessing romantic sentiments, the latter rational ones. Not only do their reactions to Mr Collins prove this but so do their feelings about Jane and Bingley's relationship and their views of love in general which we learn about in Chapter Six. But whatever their personal views there is no denying that marriage was very important in their society. In fact in the time that the novel is set (the late 1700's and early 1800's) it was the only career open to most women. This is a very realistic statement because women of this era had many restrictions placed upon them by the law which deprived them of the privilege of inheriting or owning property as well as inheriting or earning money. Therefore to escape a life of financial difficulty as well as social inferiority a woman had to marry, and marry well! Charlotte's and Elizabeth's reactions to Mr Collins, who is best described as unattractive and self-righteous, and his offers of marriage not only show us their attitudes towards matrimony but also makes us aware of their own unique characters. ...read more.

Middle

It looks like Charlotte is willing to overlook any kind of emotional intimacy in order to achieve her goal. It also seems that a mutually respectful and meaningful relationship is not one of Charlotte's objectives; she merely wants to conform to her society's "rules" of marrying a well-off man. This desire for conformity is well-expressed in her sudden and unexpected engagement to Mr Bennet's cousin, the recently ordained clergyman, Mr Collins! We first hear of Mr Collins's existence in Ch 13 whenever Mr Bennet reads a letter sent by him to Longbourn. Mr Collins is Mr Bennet's closest male relative therefore he will inherit the Longbourn estate whenever he dies. He writes about this entail in his letter, in which we receive impressions of Mr Collins strange character. For instance, he makes a big deal out of the fact that he does not wish to disrespect his dead father, that he is in possession of a "valuable rectory", and that he flatters himself with "highly commendable, overtures of good-will." Whenever he arrives at Longbourn (on his own invitation oddly enough!) we learn that he is "a tall, heavy-looking man of five-and-twenty" and that "his air was grave and stately and his manners were very formal." Mr Collins is "not inclined to be silent" and speaks a lot to the Bennet's. Throughout the novel he appears to be very eager to please others and make a good impression i.e. ...read more.

Conclusion

and her cold and manipulative way of gaining Mr Collins's affection reveals to us the lengths she was prepared to go in order to secure a rich husband and an "honourable provision." This is exactly what Elizabeth thinks whenever she learns of her engagement to Mr Collins. Elizabeth was aware that Charlotte had a different opinion of marriage than her own but didn't think she would be willing to sacrifice so much in order to achieve it. Charlotte is undoubtedly sincere whenever she tells Elizabeth that she is not romantic. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Both Elizabeth and Charlotte acknowledge this but Lizzy also respects her feelings and emotional needs whereas Charlotte has a more cold and calculated approach to matrimony which is proven whenever she makes the cut and dried statement "happiness in marriage is purely a matter of chance." Both women stick to their views, which is made very clear whenever Mr Collins enters their lives. When Elizabeth finally confronts Charlotte about the engagement it appears that their friendship may never be the same again - "...Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever subsist between them again." "Heart vs. Head" aptly describes the differences in Charlotte's and Elizabeth's attitudes towards matrimony. The traditionalist Charlotte who lets her head do the talking vs. the free spirit Elizabeth who follows her heart. ...read more.

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