Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. The Narrator, Chapter 22
Charlotte’s attention to Mr. Collins redirects his affections to her and he proposes. Elizabeth thinks it impossible, but Charlotte claims she is not romantic and only requires a comfortable home. Mrs. Bennet does not believe it either and thinks the Lucas’ are schemers and everyone has treated her barbarously. Mr. Collins returns to Kent. Caroline Bingley writes from London to Jane putting an end to any doubt of her brother Charles’ return to Netherfield in the near future, if ever. Elizabeth is certain that the Bingley sisters and Darcy have contrived to part Jane from him. Mrs. Gardiner and her family arrive for Christmas. She warns Elizabeth not to fall in love with Wickham. He has no money and it would be imprudent. Mr. Collins and Charlotte marry, departing for Hunsford. Jane returns with the Gardiners to London. Weeks pass and no sign of Caroline Bingley or her brother there. She gives up hope agrees she has been duped. Elizabeth will visit Charlotte, traveling to London to visit Jane and the Gardiners on the way. Wickham’s attentions are now away from her and on an heiress Miss King. The Gardiners invite Elizabeth to tour the Lakes with them next spring. Elizabeth arrives at Hunsford to find Mr. Collins as pompous as ever and Charlotte tolerant.
The very mention of anything concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. The Narrator, Chapter 23
So the Lucas’ are schemers after the Bennet fortune. This is Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to the news of Charlotte’s marriage to Mr. Collins. Both she and her daughter Elizabeth are incredulous when they are told the news. Mr. Collins has within three days asked two women to marry him. Charlotte saw her chance after Elizabeth refused him and even though Elizabeth thinks she has not chosen well, Charlotte thinks quite the contrary. “I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connexions, 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.” Does this point of view appear mercenary? Yes, and no. Her fiancé is a silly, pompous fool, but she will have her own home and not be a burden to her family. Even in today’s modern world it seems quite practical to me, though I would not choose it personally. Lizzy wants only to marry for love so she thinks Charlotte’s settling for Mr. Collins is impossible. Both ladies personal choices are a gamble. But in life and love, a sure bet is never a certain thing.
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 24
Romantic disappointment is in the air. So, Jane has been jilted by Bingley, Mr. Collins refused by Elizabeth, Charlotte settles for a loveless life with Mr. Collins and Elizabeth must give up Wickham because he has no money and it would be an imprudent match. No wonder Elizabeth is getting cynical and is dissatisfied with the world. Her conversations with her aunt Gardiner see her sharing thoughts openly on romance and the reality of finances in courtship. Money seems to be fueling the plot. Darcy’s fortune makes him proud and disagreeable to all. Bingley’s fortune makes him agreeable but Jane Bennet the young woman he is interested in lack of fortune makes her unworthy in his family and friends eyes. Charlotte has no money and must accept an odious, pompous man who will inherit the Bennet estate. Wickham is badmouthing Darcy because he feels cheated out of his fortune. Elizabeth is attracted to Wickham but the match would be imprudent because he has no money, nor does she. Wickham must instead chase after a young woman who until she became an heiress, was of no interest to him. What a muddle.
“Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27
This question is answered when Elizabeth visits her newly married friend Charlotte at her home with Mr. Collins in Hunsford. It appears from the outside that Charlotte has what she craved; she is the mistress of her own home. Her discretion in marrying Mr. Collins with all of his flaws and foibles was questionable to Elizabeth, but it has given Charlotte the financial security and satisfaction that will not burden her family. Some may view this as avarice, but she thought it quite prudent. It will take Elizabeth a bit longer to see the practicality of it for her friend, even though she may never apply the philosophy to herself.
“what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27
Amen. Let’s all go to the Lakes instead!
- Group reading schedule
- Pride and Prejudice: Reading Resources
- Pride and Prejudice: List of Characters
- Pride and Prejudice: Plot Summary Chapters 22-28
- Pride and Prejudice: Quotes and Quips Chapters 22-28
- Pride and Prejudice without Zombies Event Schedule
‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 9 Giveaway
Enter a chance to win one copy of the Norton Critical Edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating if you think Charlotte Lucas was mercenary in her choice of Mr. Collins as a husband or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!
Upcoming event posts
Day 10 June 28 Dancing at the Netherfield Ball
Day 11 June 30 Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35
Day 12 July 02 Carriages in P&P