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Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

A look into the sometimes overlooked relationships of Mr. Collins & Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Wickham & Lydia Bennet

Amanda Perez

on 4 February 2013

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Transcript of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

A look into the novel's lesser relationships:

Mr. Wickham & Lydia Bennet
Mr. Collins & Charlotte Lucas Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." (Ch. 1) Mr. and Mrs. Collins Marriage Mr. Collins CHARLOTTE LUCAS Mr. and Mrs. Wickham Mr. Wickham Lydia Wickham (Bennet) "But she had never felt so strongly as now the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable marriage." (Ch.) The opening lines of the novel introduce its central theme: marriage. In the 18th and 19th centuries, to marry well was extremely important. The unions of Charlotte Lucas & Mr. Collins and Lydia & Mr. Wickham exemplify differences among marriages, specifically ones that Austen disapproves of. “Mr. Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband." “'I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s 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.’” (Ch. 22) “‘ . . . it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.’” (Ch. 6) Jane Austen portrays Mr. Collins as an overly exaggerated, comical character. Ironically for a clergyman, he lacks sensibility and tactfulness. Mr. Collins contradicts himself constantly. For example, when he tells the Bennets to forgive their daughter but then advises them not even to mention her name. His exceeding amount of self-importance is far from attractive and seems to be one of Austen's disappointments regarding men seeking a wife during this time. The youngest of the Bennet girls, Lydia is characterized by an "unguarded and imprudent manner" -typical of her age. Her carelessness and "exuberant spirits" only fuel silly desires that almost, if not certainly, disgrace herself and her family. What is more certain is that a premature decision of serious magnitude has changed her life forever, and not for the best. "We are all fools in love" "Imprudent as a marriage between Mr. Wickham and our poor Lydia would be, we are now anxious to be assured it has taken place..." (Vol. 3, Ch. 4) Their way of living was, unfortunately, "unsettled to the extreme." Readers feel sorry for Lydia; she doesn't know what she's gotten herself into. Wickham's affection towards her "soon sunk into indifference." It's hard to imagine being happy in a relationship like that. “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.” "Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other.We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton." (Ch. 19) George Wickham is a soldier for the British army. He grew up along with Darcy, for he was taken under the wing of Darcy's father and raised like his son. He became a two-faced, greedy man. He attempted to take Darcy's inheritance through his sister and tries to blame Darcy for his financial situation. While in the Army, he meets the Bennett sisters and becomes friendly with Lydia. In an attempt to escape his gambling debts, he eloped with Lydia to get out of town, with no regard towards Lydia or her family. 1. Why do you think Austen chose to include these examples of marriage in her novel?

2.Is it "right" to judge Charlotte Lucas and/or Mr. Collins for their decisions regarding marriage? Why or why not?

3. If marriage was so important for young women during Austen's time, why did Lydia's cause such different reactions?

4. How do these characters' marriages affect the plot of the novel? Review Questions: Mr. and Mrs. Collins are a couple of fools "deeply in love." Charlotte is not truly in love but rather eagerly seeks marriage because she was worried she wouldn't find someone to marry at 27 years-old. As for Mr. Collins, he first tried to marry Jane, followed by a proposal to Elizabeth. This reveals that his love for Charlotte could not possibly be real and therefore, the success of their marriage is questionable. Both parties merely sought the personal benefits of marriage and neither really cared who could make that status a reality. Considering the times though, many marriages came about in this way; social and economic status and security was thought to be much more important than romance. "They arise chiefly from what is passing of the time. And though I do sometimes amuse myself with arranging such little elegant compliments, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible." (Ch.14 ) “‘You ought certainly to forgive them as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing.’' "It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable." (Ch. 19) "The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these attentions: their minds were more vacant than their sisters'..." (Ch. 7) "Our importance, our respectability in the world must be affected by the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia's character...she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment." (Ch. 18) "I grieve to find, however, that Colonel F. is not disposed to depend upon their marriage: he shook his head when I expressed my hopes and said he feared W. was not a man to be trusted." (Vol. 3, Ch. 4) “Can such abominable pride as his, have ever done him good?” "I do not think we shall have quite enough money to live without some help." (Vol. 3, Ch. 19) "It had always been evident to her that such an income as theirs, under the direction of two persons so extravagant in their wants, and heedless of the future, must be very insufficient to their support..." (Vol. 3, Ch. 19) Best friend of Elizabeth Bennet, Charlotte Lucas has a traditional and conservative attitude towards marriage. She understands that her social and financial security in the future depends upon her marrying well. She seizes the opportunity to secure Mr. Collins for herself and surprises Elizabeth. Like many other women, she will hopefully have a comfortable home, and grow to appreciate and care for her husband with the years. An Andres/Amanda/Edgar production
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