Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in 1813. She was born December 16th 1775 in Basingstoke, and died on 18th July 1817 in Winchester. Only four books of hers were published during her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma and Pride and Prejudice. This essay is about Courtship and Marriage in her very popular book Pride and Prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice is about a mother, Mrs. Bennet and her five daughters. Mrs. Bennet’s purpose is to marry off her daughters to suitable men. Her eldest daughter Jane is her pride and joy and she is assured that Jane will gain herself a husband who may be able to support her sisters as well as herself. The story is told through her sister Elizabeth, who is the only one who wishes to marry a man for love. Her younger sisters Lydia and Kitty are immature and very flirtatious.
In pride and prejudice Elizabeth Bennet is a very popular character. She is not like many woman of her time, she is very unique and her own individual. This is shown all the way throughout the book. Many women of the 19th century were from a young age and are encouraged to settle down and get married to a rich husband. Many women would marry a man of whom they did not love, and would never love. Married to a man whom they did not love was a better off life than a life of a spinster. In the novel this is shown through Charlottes Lucas and Mr Collins marriage. Charlotte Lucas does not love Mr Collins but seeing as she does not have any other better choices she has no other option than to do so.
Elizabeth Bennet is a true romantic she believes in true love, she does not go out specially to find love; she lets it come to her. She feels that if you love someone it does not matter about their status, money or possessions.
One of the main themes of the novel, Pride and Prejudice, is marriage. Austen portrays the many different attitudes to marriage that existed in her time through the medium of her characters.
In the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ quite a few marriages and proposals occur. Two proposals that we learn about are from Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy – these are two very interesting proposals, as you will see. Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy both choose to propose to Elizabeth and we find out that she rejects them both.
Mr Collins is a cousin to the Bennet; he is the nearest male relative to them. Mr Bennett intended on having a son to inherit the Longbourn estate, as this did not; Mr Collins is next in line to inherit the estate after Mr Bennet dies. In order for the estate to stay in the family, Mr Collins and particularly Mrs Bennet thought it would be appropriate that Mr Collins marry one of their five daughters, namely Elizabeth. When Mr Collins is first introduced, he seems to be seduced by Jane’s beauty but after hints from Mrs Bennet that soon Jane could be engaged, the attraction passes and he is soon attracted to Elizabeth.
Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth because it was ” … on the particular advice and recommendation…” of Lady Catherine De Bourgh and also because he “… could not satisfy [himself] without resolving to choose a wife from among his [Mr Bennet’s] daughters…” He was aware that such a marriage would be of great benefit to Elizabeth, as she would have secured her home. Mr Collins tries to entice Elizabeth further by stating that the marriage is a wish of someone he deems highly. Furthermore, Mr Collins takes it upon himself to set a good example for “… every clergyman in easy circumstances to set the example of matrimony in his parish…” which he belies he will be doing by marrying Elizabeth. Mr Collins does add, as an afterthought, that the marriage would add very greatly to his happiness.
Mr Collins states Elizabeth is an enchantment to him and assured her in “… the most animated language of the violence of my affection…” However, if this statement were taken into account amongst what has happened in the Bennet household, it would suggest the contrary, as Elizabeth was not Mr Collins’ first and last choice. He was first attracted to Jane. When Elizabeth rejected Mr Collins proposal, two days later Mr Collins went to Lucas Lodge to ask for the hand of Elizabeth’s best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte accepts as she feels that this is her last chance of independence from her parents.
Mr Darcy is a close friend of Mr Bingley’s and a nephew of Lady Catherine De Bourgh whom Mr Collins works for.
Mr Darcy proposes in chapter 34 when Elizabeth goes to visit charlotte, three months after her marriage to Mr Collins. He visits Elizabeth when she turns down Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s dinner party invitation, as she is ill. She is reading letters that Jane has sent from London where she is living with their aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Elizabeth can see from her letters that Jane is flustered that she has separated from Mr Bingley. Elizabeth suspects that Darcy has separated them and is therefore enraged.
Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth in Hertfordshire at her father’s estate- Longbourn and before he approaches her, he enquires for Mrs Bennet’s permission. The setting, which is Longbourn estate, may remind Elizabeth that if she accepts Mr Collins’ proposal the estate will be secured into the family and she will have gained shelter and financial security.
Mr Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth takes place in Kent- Hunsford where Mr Collins lives; Mr Darcy yet again contrasts to Mr Collins and does not ask permission from Mr and Mrs Bennet, if he can propose to Elizabeth. Mr Darcy does not ask for the Bennet’s permission as he did not intend to propose to Elizabeth but in the end could not help his feelings. Elizabeth is therefore away from home. Mr Darcy will inherit Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s land and can so obtain a much better lifestyle.
Mr Collins is a very humorous character, and very idiotic. He adds comedy to the novel when in fact he is actually trying to be serious. Jane Austen mocks him as she puts this pompous and arrogant clergyman in a romantic situation. Mr Collins may also be referred to as comical as he feels he is superior towards Elizabeth, when in fact he is of the same status. He is very sophisticated and logical, we know this because he uses connectives to structure his speech “… firstly…secondly…” This is also shown in his language, which is also structured. He talks in the first person and has a rich vocabulary he uses words such as “condescended”, “vivacity” and “uniformly”. This again shows that as a clergyman he is very familiar with giving speeches and sermons.
He is very formal in his speech and in his conversations. It is almost like a sermonised talk, it has an introduction, a main focal part and a conclusion. He also gives the reason why he asked Elizabeth to marry him, the reason why Mr Collins wanted to marry Elizabeth: it was the wish of Lady Catherine De Bourgh that Mr Collins acquired a woman of the gentry class to be his wife. Many sermons consist of a theory, and an example. The theory is, in Mr Collins case that he would like to marry Elizabeth and in his opinion can see both of them accomplish something in their marriage. Elizabeth will gain financial and social stability as they will be connected to Lady Catherine De Bourgh (in Mr Collins opinion) and Mr Collins will achieve happiness in the match. Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s ideas for Mr Collins on what she would like his wife to be, “… a gentlewoman for my sake; an active, useful sort of person, not bought up high…” and Mr Collins seeks Elizabeth who he believes has all the right qualities to be his wife.
Mr Darcy’s speech is serious compared to Mr Collins’, and in his language shows he is in an agitated state of mind. This is shown in his body language as he is constantly pacing up and down while explaining to Elizabeth why he does not want to marry her! He is also very spontaneous in his speech as he explains to Elizabeth he wanted to conceal his admiration for her, but he cannot help himself.
Mr Collins and Darcy again differ in their proposals as Jane Austen narrates Darcy’s proposal and uses Mr Collins own words for his proposal, yet again showing Mr Collins comical side and Darcy’s serious side. Jane Austen intends us to find Collins’ proposal funny. Jane Austen also deliberately exaggerates his character. This is shown at the irony she uses at his expense. Irony is used when listing his reasons for marriage, love is normally first, but Mr Collins used it as his last reason for proposing to Elizabeth.
Jane Austen narrates Mr Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth, she does this to show that Mr Darcy’s proposal is more of a two way conversation and that it is a dialogue but Mr Collins proposal is more like a monologue, and he tends to dominate the conversation. Jane Austen also narrates Mr Darcy’s proposal as she is trying to emphasise that Darcy is concise and tells Elizabeth the main reasons for his proposal.
Mr Darcy benefits when Jane Austen reports his proposal as we can see his body language and his reactions to her accusations. We can see from Darcy’s body language that he is in an agitated state of mind but yet again, he is confident. Darcy is confident when he first enters the room and when he leaves the room.
Mr Collins is trivial and obsessed with his patroness, Lady Catherine De Bourgh; he dwells in too much detail about her surroundings and herself. Mr Collins works for Lady Catherine De Bourgh but it seems that she gives instructions to Mr Collins on how to live and what to do. Her sentences are short and she gives liberal instructions such as “choose”. She is patronising Mr Collins into what kind of life he leads and the wife he chooses. Lady Catherine De Bourgh is intruding in Mr Collins’ life, as she is very controlling. He is also obeying her “advice”; e.g., he proposes to Elizabeth because it is a good match according to Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Mr Collins tries to encourage the idea that she is a good marriage partner.
Mr Collins and Darcy contrast yet again as love comes fifth for Mr Collins and first for Mr Darcy. Mr Collins however contrasts to Darcy as Mr Darcy gives an unhappy image of their marriage and Mr Collins gives a happy image of their marriage. Mr Collins thinks of his advantages whereas Darcy considers Elizabeth’s. Mr Collins also gives reasons for his motives and Darcy is concise. Darcy is motivated by love and Mr Collins is more motivated by Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s suggestions, “… Mr Collins, you must marry…” Both men compare in their sensitivity to Elizabeth’s family, they are offensive, humiliating, selfish, arrogant and opinionated. Mr Collins is tactless as he talks about her parents passing away “… after the death of your honoured father… your mother’s decease…” He is again tactless as he contradicts himself as he remarks that he does not mind how much she has, but then again he knows the exact amount of money she is to inherit after her mother’s death.
Mr Collins is so confident that Elizabeth will accept his offer after his speech that he uses the phrase ‘ when we are married’ .At this point Elizabeth interrupts him with her refusal which he cannot believe so he refuses to accept her refusal and assures her she will change her mind.
‘ …That it is usual with young ladies to reject the address of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. ‘
When she reassures him this is not the case with her, Mr Collins finally accepts her rejection; he insults her by telling her she may not receive another offer of marriage.
When you finish chapter 19 you don’t really feel sorry for the rejected Mr. Collins, as Jane Austen did not want you to sympathise with him. Mr. Collins comes across as a very pompous, selfish, and uncaring man throughout the whole book, I do not think Austen wanted us to like him.
Elizabeth is angry at Darcy when he proposes to her, it is ironic as when Darcy enters the room, Elizabeth is reading letters that Jane has sent her from London, Elizabeth can see that Jane is upset as she is separated from Mr Bingley. Elizabeth suspects it was Darcy who split them up and is therefore is angry with Darcy for jeopardising her sister’s relationship with Mr Bingley. She refuses to reply conventionally to Mr Darcy’s proposal, as she feels “no obligation” and refuses to thank him, as she express’ that she has never desired his good opinion she also says she hopes his pain does not last long. When he asks her why she has rejected him, and why she could not be civil in her reject to his proposal. Elizabeth casts back the same question implying that he offended and insulted her in his proposal to her. Then Elizabeth criticises Darcy for ruining the possible engagement of her sister, Jane and Bingley. She accuses Darcy of encouraging Bingley to go to London, when secretly he is trying to separate the possibility of Jane and Bingley ever crossing paths again. She also condemns Darcy for jeopardising Wickham’s career; Elizabeth carried on and denounced Darcy for being ungentle man- like and said that he was arrogant, conceited and selfish.
The two men once more equate in the way in which Elizabeth refuses to marry them, but contrast in the manner in which she refuses them. They both compare in their reactions, they expect to be accepted.
Darcy and Mr Collins differ additionally as Mr Collins cannot acknowledge that Elizabeth discards his proposal. Whereas Darcy is angry, but still understands that, she is holding him responsible for her older sister’s unhappiness.
Mr Collins is too stubborn, proud, stupid and pompous to accept that Elizabeth does not want to marry him, and to embarrass himself further he states that he will take up his protest with Mrs Bennet.
Mr Darcy however is enraged; as he is “pale with anger” he also several times throughout the conversation forces his calmness. His feelings are mixed, he feels surprised by her accusations and emotions, and then feels happy at the fact that he has split her older sister, Jane and his best friend, Mr Bingley.
In the nineteenth century men had a lot more power over women. This was because they had a better education, which gave then better career prospects. They also had a larger career field, whereas gentry’ women were only permitted to work as a governess or a teacher. Men could work and so their finances were theirs, but most women’s finances came from their family and were often inherited. As a man in the nineteenth century if you inherited land it would be yours until you died and would be passed onto your children, but a married woman’s property and money went to her husband.
Many men when proposing expected to be accepted, in the novel the two men who proposed to Elizabeth were Mr Darcy and Mr Collins. Mr Darcy expected to be accepted because of his class, he is of a higher class than Elizabeth and he has connections high up the social ladder. He also has a lot of money as well as land, which is mainly down to his inheritance. Mr Collins expected to be accepted because of his connections to Lady Catherine De Bourgh and of his good position as a clergyman, which is again down to Lady Catherine De Bourgh.
They can be compared as both Mr Collins and Mr Darcy are arrogant and are very confident when proposing to Elizabeth. Both men disrespect Elizabeth’s family but they ways in which they do this are different. Mr Darcy disrespects her by talking of their inferiority and Mr Collins talks of her parent’s death. They also disrespect her feelings.
Mr Darcy’s proposal is serious. It reflects tension though between Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy proposes at a crisis point in their relationship. Their bitter argument that follows makes Darcy behave in a more gentlemanly manner and proves him worthy of Elizabeth. The argument, which occurred when Darcy proposed to Elizabeth, where Elizabeth told Darcy of her feelings of resentment towards him, motivates their differences to be resolved. At length, when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth for the second time, he does so much more respectfully and humbly and is accepted at the end of the novel.