Pride and Prejudice: Mr. Collins Proposal to Charlotte

Discuss the importance of Mr. Collins proposal to Charlotte Lucas. Explore the methods used to present these ideas.                 (40 marks)

Jane Austen’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is predominantly about marriage in the Georgian era. The book revolves around the love affairs of the Bennet sisters, especially Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia. There are other marriages which contribute to the plot, which reflects to the readers the attitudes towards marriage at the time, and what constituted an ideal match. For instance, the marriage of Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas reveals thus. These ideas are mostly presented through the use of the omniscient narrator, dialogue and diction.
Social expectations in the Georgian era were in stark contrast to what the modern audiences are familiar with. The primary function of women in the era was to marry and marry well. The opening aphorism of the novel ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife’ strikes a keynote of Jane Austen’s theme in the novel – marriage. It is clearly evident that marriage in 19th century society was governed by economic considerations, indicated by the diction ‘fortune’ and ‘possession’. The opening sentence also sets the tone for the rest of the novel. The aphorism is intended to be ironic as it claims that a wealthy mans ultimate goal would be to find a wife, when in fact, it is the husband hunters, the mothers and daughters of the upper classes whose aim it is to trap a wealthy man into marriage. Hence, it shows how Austen condemns people who marry for anything than love such as the union of Mr. Collins and Charlotte. However, Austen does agree with materialistic marriages based on wealth more than those built on foundations of temporary feelings.  
This idealistic view is mostly conveyed through Elizabeth, the centre of consciousness in the novel. Elizabeth’s views although not entirely realistic are commendable. She finds...