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In Pride and Predjuice life is not all fun and games. There are many
pressures in life: mothers with high expectations for a good marriage and a
girl's own expectation of what life and hopefully marriage will be like.
Charlotte Lucas is the oldest daughter in a large family, she is not the most
beautiful girl, and she is twenty-seven, well beyond the marrying age.
Charlotte is Elizabeth Bennett's best friend and Mr. Collins, the man Charlotte
finally marries, is Elizabeth's cousin. Charlotte Lucas will marry to solidify
her life, not because she loves, for many people are unkind about her ability to
marry well; thus after her marriage to Mr. Collins, she spends all of her time
Charlotte knows that even though she wants to marry more than anything
in the world, she does not expect love to come about; thus, she decides that it
is probably even better if you don't know a thing at all about the person you
are marrying. While Charlotte is speaking to Elizabeth about her sister, she
expressed her opinion as to Jane Bennet's relationship towards a gentleman. She
says it is probably better not to study a person because you would probably know
as much after twelve months as if she married him the next day. Charlotte even
goes as far as to say that "it is better to know as little as possible of the
defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life" (p.21). Charlotte
considered Mr. Collins "neither sensible nor agreeable" but since marriage had
always been her goal in life, "at the age of twenty-seven, with having never
been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it" (p.107). Charlotte is
speaking to Elizabeth on her marriage to Mr. Collins, "I am not romantic, you
know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins'
character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of
happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage
state" (p.110). Charlotte is optimistic in entering her marriage even though
Elizabeth is not.
The people associated with Charlotte, even her dear friends, have little
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expectation for Charlotte's marrying well. While Mrs. Benett is speaking to Mr.
Bingley the subject of Charlotte Lucas comes up and Mrs. Bennet can not help but
to comment about Charlotte's beauty, "...but you must own she is very plain.
Lady Lucas has often said so..." (p.39). Even good-natured Jane, Elizabeth's
sister, has something to say about Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins. Jane
argues that Mr. Collins is respectable and that Charlotte is from a large family
and is not exceptionally wealthy. She also states that Charlotte, "may feel
something like regard and esteem for our cousin" (p.117). Elizabeth taking the
opposite point of view on the issue says, "Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous,
narrow-minded, silly man;" then continued to list reasons as to why, "the woman
who marries him [Mr. Collins] cannot have a proper way of thinking" (p. 117).
Charlotte, having gone into her marriage with Mr. Collins with her eyes
open, puts most of her energy into avoiding her husband. Charlotte finding
herself now having to deal with her husband makes her quarters in the lesser
part of their house, leaving the more attractive part to her husband so he will
spend more time there (p. 144). Also, Charlotte and Mr. Collins take walks
every morning, which Charlotte walked considerably fast in order to leave Mr.
Collins to every view, "with a minuteness which left beauty entirely behind"
(p.134). Elizabeth, while visiting Charlotte, observed another way in which
Carlotte tolerated her husband, her observation was, "Her home and her
housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and all their dependent concerns, have
not yet lost their charms" (p.183).
Charlotte neither being pretty nor wealthy has compensated for her
husband's annoying traits in many ways. In a time when most girl's goals were
to get married, Charlotte achieved her goals. Even though she may not love
her husband, she is happy because she will not be a spinster.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Toronto : Penguin Books, 1972.