The April A to Z Blogging Challenge is a month-long event where I, and more than 2000 other bloggers, will post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. The theme of my posts will be “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.” Click the link above or the A to Z badge in my sidebar to visit other participants.
“I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your hounored father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place — which, however, as I have already said, may or may not be for several years.” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
I wrote in a previous post that the Bennet family is considered landed gentry. Because Mr. Bennet inherited his property and doesn’t have to work to support himself, he and his daughters are in a higher social class than people who must have a job. Unfortunately for the girls, their father’s property comes with a Fee Entail. This means that only a male heir can inherit the estate. Since Mr. and Mrs. Bennet failed to have a son, the nearest male relative will get Longbourn when Mr. Bennet dies.
This is where Mr. Collins enters the picture. He is Mr. Bennet’s cousin and the man who will become the next owner of Longbourn. During the story Mr. Collins comes for a visit with the intention of choosing a wife from among the Bennet daughters. This he means as making amends for taking away their home.
The problem is, “Mr. Collins is not a sensible man…”
He really is quite the opposite. Elizabeth describes him to Jane by saying, “…Mr. Coliins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man;” His character is one of the most amusing in the story. Mr. Bennet eagerly anticipates his arrival, but grows tired of all the nonsense that spews from his cousin’s mouth. It is up to Mrs. Bennet and the girls to entertain him while putting up with his constant praise of his patroness and practiced compliments. His proposal to Elizabeth, complete with the pros and cons of marriage, is one of the most humorous points in the book.
Beyond comic relief, Mr. Collins is useful to the storyline because he helps establish Elizabeth’s attitude about marriage. She won’t have a man simply because he can keep her comfortably. There must be genuine feelings for her to even consider matrimony. This was not the usual thoughts on marriage during Jane Austen’s day.
Because he immediately marries Elizabeth’s dear friend, Mr. Collins also is a catalyst in bringing Elizabeth to Rosings Park. She is on an extended visit with her friend when Elizabeth is introduced to Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam. It is also during her time at the Collins’ home that Mr. Darcy botches his own marriage proposal to Elizabeth.
I love Mr. Collins character in Pride & Prejudice because he is a comedic fool. There, I said. I enjoy laughing at him. He is SO wrong, that at some point he becomes right. Thank you Jane Austen for giving us a silly man to stand next to Mr. Darcy. It just makes our hero look better.