Elizabeth is grateful that Charlotte entertains Mr. Collins, which keeps him in a good humor and away from her. Elizabeth assumes she is simply being kind to Mr. Collins and the Bennets; in truth, Charlotte, who greatly fears being a spinster, is interested in Mr. Collins as a husband for herself. She does not care if her husband is foolish and vain, as long as she has a husband; she has no romantic ideas that marriage must be based on love. She tells Elizabeth, "I am not romantic you know. . . I only ask for a comfortable home."
Charlotte’s attention to Mr. Collins pays off for her. In his characteristic
garrulous way, he proposes to her and tells her to set the day of the
wedding. Sir William Lucas and his wife are delighted with the match,
but Elizabeth is horrified when she learns that her friend has consented
to marry the detestable man.
Elizabeth is appalled by Charlotte’s decision to marry the foolish Mr. Collins.
She does not understand the depth of fear that Charlotte has possessed
about being a spinster and her willingness to compromise to find a husband;
marriage to Charlotte is little more than an economic arrangement. Jane
Austen, as a sensitive female novelist, tried to expose the plight of
women trapped in a man’s world, where the culmination of womanhood lies
solely in matrimony and motherhood. In addition, a single woman had few
means of providing an income for herself; as a result, the spinster was
usually destined for a life of poverty, which is what Charlotte is trying
to avoid and what Mrs. Bennett fears for her unmarried daughters.
Sir William Lucas arrives at the Bennets to announce the engagement of his daughter to Mr. Collins. Mrs. Bennet is dumbfounded and extremely disgruntled by the news. A week elapses before she can see Elizabeth without scolding her for refusing Mr. Collins’ proposal, and a month passes before she can speak to the Lucas family with civility.
Disappointed in her good friend Charlotte, Elizabeth spends more time with Jane. She grows increasingly anxious about her sister since there is no news of Bingley. Jane is also dejected over not hearing from him, but she retains her composure.
A week later, Mr. Collins arrives at Longbourn and receives a cold, indifferent welcome from the disappointed Mrs. Bennet. She complains to her husband that "it was very strange that he (Mr. Collins) should come to Longbourn instead of Lucas Lodge; it was also very inconvenient and exceedingly troublesome". Even though he is staying with the Bennets, Mr. Collins spends the larger part of his time at Lucas Lodge.
Mrs. Bennet is in a terrible state, weighed down by the twin tragedy of Mr.
Bingley’s sudden disappearance and Mr. Collins’ engagement to Miss Lucas.
The sight of Lucas is particularly abhorrent to her, for Mrs. Bennet can
only think about her being the future mistress of Longbourn.
The marriage of Mr. Collins and Charlotte is proudly announced by her family. Lady Lucas’ gleeful strutting and Mrs. Bennet’s sadness shed light on the competitive nature of the marriage-market, where even a man like Mr. Collins is considered a worthy catch by the mothers. It is important to note Mrs. Bennet’s fickle attitude about Collins. She has now reverted to her previous attitude of hatred towards him, jealously viewing him as the inheritor of Longbourn rather than as an eligible and acceptable suitor for her daughter.
It is to be noted that Charlotte’s marriage to Collins is vital to the plot,
for it allows Elizabeth to visit her later and gives her the chance to
again meet Darcy.
Miss Bingley’s reply to Jane’s letter arrives and indicates that they are all settled in London for the winter. Most of the letter cruelly speaks of Miss Darcy and her many attractions. Caroline also boasts about the growing intimacy between her and her brother Bingley, who is residing with Darcy. Elizabeth still feels that Bingley is being influenced by his sisters, who want to destroy his admiration for Jane. She criticizes Bingley for being so easily swayed and manipulated, but Jane will not listen to any criticism of Bingley, Caroline, or Mrs. Hurst.
After the arrival of Caroline’s letter, the mood at Longbourn is somber. Mr.
Wickham’s frequent visits seem to alleviate some of the gloom. The entire
Bennet family is told about Darcy’s alleged treatment of Wickham, and
everyone accepts his account as factual. Even Jane condemns Darcy; but
she still believes there may be extenuating circumstances that are unknown
It is obvious that Caroline Bingley is being intentionally cruel in her letter and is trying to encourage a relationship between Miss Darcy and her brother. She definitely does not want to see Bingley in love with a Bennet girl. Elizabeth believes the Bingley is being manipulated, and she criticizes him for not standing up to his sisters. Bingley comes across as a lukewarm character, radically contrary to his assertive friend, Darcy.
Wickham’s visits at the Bennets become more frequent, and the whole family,
especially Elizabeth, is attracted to his jovial and friendly manner.
Since Darcy is away in London, Wickham sees no danger of his story being
contradicted, so he openly shares it with everyone in the Bennet household.
They all accept the story as truth, and even Jane is swayed in her opinion.
Cite this page:
TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Pride and Prejudice".
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