Friday, 20 January 2017
JANE AUSTEN'S CHARLOTTE LUCAS CAPTURES MR. COLLINS
Charlotte Lucas is a rare example from Jane Austen’s novels of a woman marrying a man younger than herself. Mr. Collins is twenty-five. How amazingly and succinctly Jane Austen tells us the full story of Charlotte's capture of Mr. Collins. It would never have occurred to us that Charlotte would wish to marry him. Yet, in the space of just three paragraphs (early in Chapter 22), we have a full, convincing description and analysis of this extraordinary event.
Not only are Charlotte's motivation and tactics made clear; there is also room for some of the most serious, thought-provoking comments (on the status of women) in the entire novel; and the episode is related with wonderful irony. Consider some examples:
Miss Lucas's scheme ... she did injustice to the fire and independence of his character .... admirable slyness .... throw himself at her feet..... [!] .... set out to meet him accidentally in the lane .... love and eloquence... [!] ...In as short a time as Mr. Collins's speeches would allow ... ... The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance .... Lady Lucas began directly to calculate...how many years longer Mr. Bennet was likely to live .... his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. ... 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.
So much in less than a couple of pages!