Contrast and compare the two marriage proposals made to Elizabeth Bennet in the novel: Mr Collins’ proposal to Elizabeth and Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth
Jane Austen lived in a mercenary world and this is reflected in her novel. In “Pride and Prejudice” no secret is made of the need to marry for money. Jane Austen reflects different types of marriage in her novel. There is mercenary marriage, brought about solely for economic reasons. Such would have been the marriage between Mr Collins and Elizabeth. Mr Collins’ proposal was fuelled by his own economic motives, desire to please the aristocratic Lady Catherine and by Mrs Bennet’s economic fears that Elizabeth will inherit little money when her father dies: not real feelings or any aspect of love. Contrasting this is the ideal marriage. Marriages ‘rationally founded,’ based on, ‘excellent understanding,’ and, ‘general similarity of feeling and taste,’ (Chapter 55) Such is the marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth. Although Elizabeth refused Darcy’s first proposal, it was ultimately made because of true emotional feelings, respect and admiration for Elizabeth.
The main reason for Mr Collins’ selection of a wife in Elizabeth is economic convenience. Her farther’s house is entailed to him. By marrying Mr Collins, Elizabeth’s family will not be left without a home. Many aspects of Mr Collins’s proposal reflect his lack of feeling. The first being how the proposal comes about. He comes to Hertfordshire, ‘with the design of selecting a wife,’ and he ironically feels that his choosing one from Longbourn was, ‘disinterested on his own part,’ due to the estate being entailed to him. Any lady form Longbourn will suffice. Elizabeth was not even his first choice, but Jane was believed to be soon united with Mr Bingley.
He admits to Elizabeth that the house is a motive for his choice, proving that his proposal is dominated by economic convenience not love. His proposal was far from a spontaneous act of love. It was planned and his choice designed with Mrs Bennet. Elizabeth was clearly aware of his intentions, and tries desperately to avoid being put in a position where they can come out. However once forced to by her mother, Elizabeth wishes to, ‘get it over as soon and quietly as possible.’ Elizabeth obviously does not have feelings for Mr Collins and takes no pleasure in his proposal.
There is a sense that Mr Collins talking through a set of words throughout his proposal. He addresses Mrs Bennet with great formality, it gives a sense that he has pre-designed his address to her. Mr Collins is following the rules, saying what he is supposed to say; not what he feels. His whole proposal to Elizabeth gives a sense of an order of service, with a script that could be applied to any character. The speech is very impersonal. Mr Collins talks of, ‘young ladies,’ ‘your sex.’ There is exceedingly little mention of Elizabeth’s character or Mr Collins’s admiration for it. It feels as though Mr Collins could apply his speech to anybody, and later does with Charlotte.
The content of Mr Collins’s dialogue throughout his proposal is very explicit in its lack of feeling. He begins by stating his reasons for marriage. His first reason it that he feels he should, ‘Sick Equation the example of matrimony.’ he believes marriage will add to his happiness, and Lady Catherine told him, ‘ Mr Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry.’ Mr Collins wants a good little wife to use as a tool to improve his public image. He talks of how a marriage will please him. He does not talk bout how the union between him and Elizabeth will bring him great happiness. It does not matter who his bride is, as all he wants is a wife, to improve his status and please Lady Catherine; he does not have to have feelings for her. It could be said that Mr Collins’s greatest incentive to marry is to please Lady Catherine.
He is being forced into a proposal by another woman, not true feelings. Although there is a mention of his feelings, Mr Collins talks of how,’ the violence,; of his affections would overlook the downside to marrying Elizabeth . Not how violently he respects and admires her. Darcy’s proposal is a complete contrast in its emotional conflict. The whole proposal is much more dynamic and there are clearly strong emotions and feelings involved. Darcy immediately tells Elizabeth he loves her. Wards are used such as, ‘and agitated manner,’ ‘the color rose,’ ‘became pale with anger,’ ‘painfully greater,’ these clearly demonstrate dynamic, strong feelings. They illustrate the greater depth of feeling felt throughout Darcy’s proposal than in that of Mr Collins’.
Mr Collins’ proposal was mainly fueled by the great convenience in Elizabeth marrying Mr Collins. However Darcy’s proposal is very far from convenient. Although technically in the same class, Darcy is viewed to be much above Elizabeth in society and a marriage between them would not be viewed as idea. Mr Collins is following the rules in his proposal; talking to Mrs Bennet, saying what he is supposed to and attempting to please Lady Catherine. In contrast Darcy is compelled by his feelings to break the rules, by not doing what society expects of him.
Mr Collins’ proposal was greatly fueled by Lady Catherine and his desire to improve his standing in society. However Darcy is fueled by his feelings to go against society and potentially decrease his social standing. Darcy’s true love for Elizabeth overcomes all the sociable reasons for not marrying E. Darcy is a very strong character, however he struggled, ‘in vain,’ to overcome his feelings. Darcy’s feelings managed to overcome him. Showing their strength and power.
Their proposals act as a great insight into the character of Mr Collins and Darcy. Mr Collins’ proposal greatly shows what is important to him. The thing of greatest importance to him, seems to be money and connections. His public persona is very important, he was to marry to improve it and please Lady Catherine. Mr Collins sees money and high connections with people such as Lady Catherine as reasons for happiness and why Elizabeth should marry him. He does not appear to realize that not everyone is as materialistic as him. Mr Collins is driven into his proposal by economic reasons and Lady Catherine, which seem more important to him than love.
The importance of high standing people such as Lady Catherine to Mr Collins is also very apparent in his proposal. He is clearly obsessed by her high social status. He wants to marry because Lady Catherine tells him, ‘A clergyman like you must marry.’ He allows her to choose what type of woman he should marry, a woman, ‘active and useful, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way.’ Lady Catherine tells Mr Collins to choose a woman with these characters, not just for Mr Collins’ sake but for her own. Mr Collins allows another woman’s wishes to dominate his choice in a wife. Perhaps Lady Catherine’s feelings are more important to him than his own or his potential wife.
One of the greatest things Mr Collins can offer seems to be Lady Catherine. He says to Elizabeth, ‘ I do not reckon the notice and kindness of Lady Catherine as among the least of the advantages in my power to offer.’ This again demonstrates Mr Collins’ lack of recognition of the fact that not every one feels high connection and money to be the greatest importance in life. As well as money and connections Mr Collins’ believes Lady Catherine to be more important than love.
Mr Collins’ personality traits are also portrayed very well in his proposals. He is unmoved by Elizabeth’s refusal and continually refuses to accept it. His first reaction is to dismiss the refusal, ‘with a formal wave of the hand. He believes, ‘ it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept.’ He then goes on to say, ; give me leave to flatter myself,; theat he believes Elizabeth’s refusal, ‘ is merely words of course.’ he clearly has an extremely high opinions and an over confidence in himself and his situation in life; he simply cannot believe why anyone would not wish to be a part of that.
Despite great efforts from Elizabeth to convince him otherwise, Mr Collins still leaves his encounter iwth Elizabeth, believing, ‘ his proposals will not fail of being acceptable.; it is greatly apparent that Mr Collins is too conceited to accept Elizabeth’s strong refusal. He is deluded enough to believe himself and Lady Catherine as irresistible to Elizabeth, and will not believe it when she manages to revisit them. He goes as far as too view the refusal as encouragement.
There are further aspects of his proposal exposing Mr Collins’ character. He explains his second reason for marrying as being to ‘ add very greatly to my happiness.’ This add to the partial of him as selfish and self obsessed. He does not make any secret of his motives for marrying as being Lady Catherine and the convenience of a marriage between him and a lady from Longbourn. He is again too deluded to see that saying this would not impress Elizabeth and says, ‘I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem.’ There is a sense that he has such a high opinion of himself, he feels that it does not matter what he says, Elizabeth will want to marry him. He is even deluded enough to believe Elizabeth should be grateful for his proposal he speaks to Elizabeth with great contempt and fails to realize that this may displease her; not encourage her to marry him.
He tells Elizabeth that her, ‘ with and vivacity,’ will be, ‘ tempered with the silence and respect which her rank will inevitably excite,’ when talking about Lady Cather. Implying that Elizabeth should be extremely intimidated by someone such as Lady Cather. He later goes on to denigrate Elizabeth by telling her, ‘ Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications.; he is clearly too deluded and foolish to realize insults are not the way to a woman’s heart.
Much of Darcy’ character is also revealed in his proposal. He is clearly not used to feeling the way that he feels. He first, ‘sat down for a few moments,’ then ‘walked about the room.’ He is seemingly unaware of how to deal with this situation. He came toward Elizabeth, ‘in an agitated manner.’ Darcy is far form his usual character of cool composure. He has clearly been moved by visible feelings; unlike Mr Collins.
Darcy shows that money and status are important to him as well. He says, ‘In vain I have struggled; and ‘in spite of all his endeavors,; Darcy cannot overcome his feelings and must express them to E. Unlike Mr Collins Darcy talks of his great affections for Elizabeth. However just as Mr Collins Darcy also talks of money and connections. His speech is described as being, ‘ not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride.; although money and status are undoubtedly very important to Darcy, unlike Mr Collins, he proves that love and happiness are more important to him.
Darcy is portrayed as being very honest. He gives Elizabeth the full story of his affections; the good and the bad. He makes not attempt to deny his actions in trying to separate Mr Bingly from Elizabeth’s sister, even though he must be aware that it will damage Elizabeth’s opinion of him. The fact that Darcy is willing to give Elizabeth the full story, reflects the openness and extent of Darcy’s feelings for Elizabeth.
Darcy is much more realistic and down to earth than Mr Collins. He is not too deluded to realize that the insults of Elizabeth’s family will damage her pride and upset her. However Darcy respects Elizabeth, and feels it better to give her the full story. Darcy is not too conceited to hear Elizabeth’s refusal. He accepts it and is clearly moved by it. His, ‘ complexion became pale with anger,’ and he struggles, ‘ for the appearance of composure.’ He stops Elizabeth and, ‘hastily left the room.’ Despite his higher status than Mr Collins, Darcy is not too self absorbed as to not believe Elizabeth’s rejection as being real.
Darcy his giving everything to E. He gives her the full story. He shows her all his feelings; and vulnerably puts his entire self out on the line. By exposing himself so openly, he wants the great gift of love and happiness. However Mr Collins’ proposal in comparison is very superficial. He is not searching for lover or a joyous union between man and wife, but selfishly, and improved social standing for himself.
As well as contrasts some similarities can be found between eh two proposals. Both Mr Collins and Darcy assume a positive outcome to their proposal and an acceptance of their offer. It is apparent that Mr Collins is so ceratin of acceptance, as he is os greatly conceited and believes that what he can offer will be unavoidably tempting to Elizabeth; she will not be able to refuse. However there is a sense that Darcy’s assumption is based on other reasons. It feels as though, Darcy’s feelings are so strong and have been so overpowering that he has not thought of refusal. Perhaps he feels that it would not be possible for him to feel so strongly for her, if Elizabeth did not feel the same. Although he assumes acceptance, when Darcy is faced with refusal he accepts it very quickly, unlike Mr Collins.
In their proposals both Mr Collins and Darcy inflict pain on Elizabeth’s pride by reminding her of her vulnerable social situation. Mr Collins is willing to over look Elizabeth’s poor fortune. Darcy has been forced by his true love to overcome his question about Elizabeth’s social standing. Mr Collins sees economic reasons, his high connections, his ability to improve, Elizabeth’s social standing, and his opportunity to improve his social status by obtaining a wife, as reasons for marriage, not the opportunity of love and happiness. Darcy however does not try to use his ability to improve Elizabeth’s economic situation as reasons for her accepting his hand. Darcy sees the questionable economic and social situation as a reason for not marrying Elizabeth . In contrast to Mr Collins he sees the potential for love and happiness as the fuel for marriage, not money. It is because of this that he is able to overcome his pride and propose.
We can also obtain many aspects of Elizabeth’s character, from her behavior during and reaction to the two different proposals. Elizabeth is clearly very sensible. When Mr Collins presses for time alone with Elizabeth she immediately knows what is going on, and tries desperately to avoid it. Unlike maybe some of her younger sisters she is not naive, and does not simply desire for male company. Elizabeth later goes on to asset the sense of her character, by responding to Mr Collins’ ridiculous assumptions that Elizabeth’s refusals is just part of a game that many young women play, by saying, ‘I do assure you that I am not one of those young ladies, (if such young ladies that are) who are so daring as to risk there happiness on the chance of being asked a second time.’ Elizabeth is clearly too sensible to play such games. She is not so stupid as to risk true love and happiness, and maybe too sensible to see how anyone could be so insensible as to do so.
As well as sensible Elizabeth comes across as very civil and level headed. She does not cause a scene, does not loudly refuse Mr Collins and revoke his insults. In stead she wishes to finish the ordeal as quickly and, ‘as quietly as possible.’ At first Mr Collins’ declaration of his love makes Elizabeth, ‘so near laughing that she could not use the short pause he allowed in any attempt to stop him farther.’ this reflects Elizabeth’s light spirited character and good sense of humor. Despite Mr Collins’ constant disbelieve of the reality of Elizabeth’s refusal, Elizabeth still remains calm and civil. She does not appear as ill-tempered and is perhaps sensible enough to realize that becoming upset and excited will not help the situation. She attempts to blame her refusal on herself and lack of ability to please Lady Catherine. She says to Mr Collins. ‘ were your friend Lady Catherine to know me, I am persuaded she would find me in every respect ill qualified.’ She does not personally insult Mr Collins, but instead attempts to find excuse for her denying his proposal. This again reflects her civil character.
It seems as though Elizabeth does not like insulting confrontations with people. She is desperate to leave her encounter with Mr Collins under good conditions. However Mr Collins continues to persist in his proposal. Despite attempts to remain civil, as Mr Collins continues to reuses the reality of her refusal Elizabeth becomes more agitated. She cries to Mr Collins, ‘with some warmth, your puzzle me exceedingly,’ Elizabeth is seemingly too sensible for such foolishness and silly games; and they clearly agitate her. However instead of insults, Elizabeth reverts to her trade mark irony as she becomes more angry. It is a reflection on her good nature a strength that she remains so calm during such an infuriating ordeal.
Elizabeth’s connection in intellect and sense with her father is revealed at the end of the proposal. Elizabeth acknowledges that she will not be able to convince Mr Collins and immediately thinks of her father. Sh knows that his character is just as sensible as her own, and unlike her mother, her father will not make her marry such an obsurd man.
Many of the aspect of Elizabeth’s character are also revealed in Darcy’s proposal. As with Mr Collins Elizabeth did not want to see Md. However this is due to her dislike of his character; not even her sense could foresee this proposal. After Darcy beings his proposal, he views Elizabeth’s silence as, ‘sufficient encouragement,’ to continue. This agin reflects Elizabeth’s strength of character. She is clearly recognized by Darcy as a woman with strong mind and opinions.
Elizabeth ‘was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive.’ This shows that Elizabeth is a compassionate character. Although she deeply dislikes Darcy; she is not so spiteful as to wish to inflict any pain on him. Elizabeth evidently feels much more emotion throughout Darcy’s proposals. Phrases are used such as, ‘color rose into her cheeks,’ ‘she was roused to resentments,’ ‘she lost all compassion in anger.’ However despite heightened emotions, Elizabeth still tries to remain patients and composed. It is clear the Elizabeth feels much more for Darcy. She is much more personal in her responses to him. She Darcy, ‘I have never desired you good opinion.’ She makes no secret of her dislike for him.
She informs Darcy that it is not only his proposal on which her, ‘dislike was founded.’ Elizabeth is clearly very passionate about Darcy, even if she does not like him. She is insulted by him, and cannot remains so civil as with Mr Collins. She cannot brush away Darcy’s insults as she can with Mr Collins. This is all because she feels for Darcy and does not for Mr Collins. Elizabeth clearly cares deeply for her family, as she particularly struggles for composure, after Darcy confirms his actions causing hurt to Elizabeth’s sister Jane.
As well as the creditable aspects of her character, Elizabeth’s greatest fault is also displayed. Her fault being prejudice. She bases her deep, deep dislike of Darcy, on the opinions she formed of him after their first meeting. In her final dialogue of Darcy’s proposal Elizabeth says, ‘from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain. Because of this opinion Elizabeth automatically believes Wickham’s story. The believe of his story, inflated Elizabeth’s bad opinion of Darcy, and greatly fueled her dislike. Elizabeth does not even think to consider her view of Darcy may be incorrect. She does not hesitate in firing her insults at him and shows great prejudice towards him.
Elizabeth does not acknowledge the feelings of either of the men proposing to her. She knows she will not make Mr Collins happy. Elizabeth believes that after Darcy has exposed his love to Elizabeth he, ‘can have little difficulty in overcoming it.’ Elizabeth appears completely ignorant to the stir she has cause in d. The reflects her modesty. She does not have an over inflated image of herself and is too sensible to feel that men should always fall in love with her.
Throughout both proposals, despite being annoyed, angered and hurt, Elizabeth always tries to retains her composure. Although this is a merit to her strength of character, it could also be interpreted in a different way. Perhaps Elizabeth tries to remains calm because she cares aobut what others think of her. She does not want to be viewed as ill-tempered or hot headed. Instead as the civil sensible character, that she is.
I feel the greatest tribute to Elizabeth’s strength of character, is her refusal of both proposals. She proves herself to be, much wiser and much more confident than Charlotte Lucas, who accept Mr Collins’ proposal. Elizabeth will not just marry for convince and the safe entail of Longbourn. Elizabeth shows that she is too strong to be swayed into acceptance, by a rich husband and a lavish existence. Unlike Mr Collins, Mrs Bennet and Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth proves that love and happiness are the most important thing to her, not economy and status; love will be the only reason why she will marry.
Typically, Mrs Bennet is reflected very badly in her attempt of match making. In discussion with Mr Collins, Mrs Bennett assumes that Elizabeth will accept Mr Collins’ proposals. This shows that both feel money and connections are suitable reasons for accepting a marriage. The both assume that Elizabeth also views status as more important than love. Mrs Bennett does not think to consider the feelings of her daughter. She overlooks Elizabeth’s discomfort and vexation, and continues to pressure Elizabeth into time alone with Mr Collins. This implies that to Mrs Bennett improved social connections, the secure knowledge that her house will remain in her family, are more important than the feelings of her family. This is later supported by Mrs Bennett’s reaction to Elizabeth’s refusal.
She refuses to talk to Elizabeth for what she has done. This probes that Mrs Bennett attaches a greater value to status, than to love and enjoyment of her family. There is a sense that she wishes to be the boss. Whatever she tells her children to do is right and must be done. However she does not have the wit or intellect to command such control. Instead, just as a child, she sulks when her authority is not followed. Elizabeth maintenance of a civil manner throughout the proposals, shows that she is more sociably acceptable than her mother. Despite Mrs Bennett’s constant attempts to improve her social standing.
One of the Jane Austen’s greatest tricks, is her ability to adapt her script to influence the reader into feeling what she wants them to feel. This is very apparent in the two proposals. For Mr Collins’ proposals, Jane Austen includes the full dialogue of his declaration. This has great effect. By including the full script of Mr Collins’ dialogue it enhances the effect that Mr Collins is talking through a script. You get the full flavor of his pre-designed speech; and the extent of his lack of feeling.
Jane Austen uses the opposiet tactic achieving an opposite effect for Darcy’s proposal. She does not write the full dialogue of Darcy’s proposal. Instead she depicts the events in a narrative form. This helps to maintain the reader like towards d. Elizabeth’s fault is prejudice and Darcy’ is pride. Due to his nature and the society hie lives in Darcy will inevitably damage Elizabeth’s pride with insults towards her status. However these are not included in the dialogue. So the reader comes to respect Darcy for telling a true story of his love; but without disliking him for rude conceited remarks, as with Mr Collins.
There is a further effect form the authorial comments. The ending to Mr Collins’ proposal, leaves a definite finality to the situation. Although Mr Collins leaves convinced they will marry, Elizabeth knows otherwise. She will apply to her father, who will make no doubt of the fact that Elizabeth does not wish to accept Mr Collins’s proposals. Elizabeth does not reflect on his proposal; and there is no question that she does not feel for Mr Collins. However with Darcy it is different. Elizabeth is definitely moved by his proposal. She ‘sat down and cried for half and hour.’ She considered her meeting with Darcy, ‘in very agitated reflections until the sound of Lady Catherine’s carriage.’ There is no sense of finality to Darcy’s proposal or Elizabeth’s feelings. As the reader is aware that Elizabeth’s passionate hatred is founded on prejudice, you cannot help but wonder that if she were to over come her fault, her passion towards Darcy might change.
It is clear through the proposals that women did not always have a very high standing. For some women were simply interchangeable. For example when Mr Collins finds that Jane is taken he immediately move his marital interests to Elizabeth. It appears that women did not always have a high enough standing to even choose their partner in marriage. Some women were forced into marriage not by love or choice, but by family and the pressure to increase or maintain a social reputation. For example Mrs Bennett attempts to force Elizabeth into marrying Mr Collins.. It is not all women who have Elizabeth’s strength of character not to be pushed, for example Charlotte did not. It appears that women could sometimes be the victim of emotional blackmail.
For example Mr Collins tires to convince Elizabeth to marry him by telling her that it is unlikely any one else will offer, as her, ‘portion is unhappily so small.’ Mr Collins’ proposal also suggests that what women said in reply to a proposal did not always matter. Mr Collins finally resigns himself to saying that even if Elizabeth continues to refuse, her mother will ensure a marriage. However Darcy’s proposal contradicts this. Darcy takes note and respects Elizabeth’s refusal. He make no attempts to bribe or pressure her as he realises she does not love him.
Both proposals reflect the great importance of money and class when it comes to marriage. Mr Collins’ proposal was fueled by economic and social reasons. It appears that to some these are substantial enough reasons for marriage. Mr Collins tells, ‘your portions is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications.’ This implies that many would feel, class many would feel, class, money and connections to be more important than admiration of the other, when in search of a bride. Even Darcy who feels genuine love for Elizabeth, must mention money. In the society of the time, money and class are such important issues that Darcy cannot let them escape when proposing. Although it is revealed that money is very important when it comes to marriage, it is also apparent that true gentlemen such a Mr Darcy will not befall to snobbery, they can overcome economic situations, because they have the correct moral understand to know that love is most important.
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