Pride And Prejudice


Question 1: Pride and Prejudice
Chapter 19 concerns Mr Collins's proposal to Elizabeth. Read carefully the exchange between Elizabeth and Mr Collins beginning 'Believe me, my dear Miss Elizabeth' to 'not fail of being acceptable'. Discuss the passage in detail, commenting on its comic aspects, and what the chapter reveals about the characters
and the social environment or world of the novel.

At first glance Chapter 19 is just another cog in the story of Pride and Prejudice, but upon closer inspection it reveals a great many details. Obviously the comical aspects of Mr Collins are what first strikes the reader when they come across this passage, he is very confident, very sure of himself, and completely off the mark. It is something that we as readers can see quite plainly, but it reveals many things about Mr Collins's personality, and its distinct lack of depth. He views his proposal as doing Elizabeth and indeed the whole Bennet family a favour, by allowing them to keep Longbourn Estate in the family so to speak. While his proposal was comical in aspect it was also a looking glass into English society, through his long drawn out protests at Elizabeth's rejection of him he gives the reader an insight into English society and particularly the roles of women. Elizabeth Bennet's character is put to a test by Mr Collins' proposal in Chapter 19, and it passes with flying colours. With great many advantages to be had by marrying Mr Collins, such as security for her sisters and mother after their fathers' death, she still chooses to reject him rather then humble herself before him.

 
Mr Collins's manner in which he proposes to Elizabeth is very matter-of-fact; the proposal itself is more of a business proposition than a marriage proposal in the way that it lacks any emotional expression. The comical aspect of it stems from the abrupt nature of the proposal, Mr Collins having spent very little time with Elizabeth, and in fact only knowing her for less than a week and Mr Collins's complete confidence in obtaining Elizabeth's consent. The very way in which he went about proposing to Elizabeth is comical to a reader in our day and age, as our views on marriage are vastly different to those of the period in question. Elizabeth is a person a strong character with convictions, in contrast to Mr. Collins, who completely lacks the capacity for reflection and self-awareness. The reader laughs at his self-importance and ridiculously obsequious, sycophantic manner. During the passage in question, Elizabeth makes it known to Mr Collins five times that she does not wish to marry him, and never will, but every time her cries fall on ego driven deaf ears.
"As I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.1"
A statement such as this is laughable to we the readers, and indeed, even to Elizabeth. However Mr Collins's impenetrable shield of confidence and egotism refuses to be penetrated and the above statement is kind of like a protective mechanism that allows Mr Collins to convince himself it will all work out.

The reader is given an insight into many attitudes that people developed around the period of the novel by Mr Collins's proposal. While Mr Collins may appear silly to the reader, he was perhaps well within his rights to believe that Elizabeth would indeed come around to his proposal. In a very male dominated society, it appears that this reflects a great deal as to peoples views on women, objects of desire who may put up a bit of a struggle but they'll come around eventually, they have to, they're expected to. A wife was viewed as a possession, if the couple happened to be in love it was a bonus, but they were generally viewed as something to be selected and purchased. Elizabeth was a remarkable character for her time, she was strong, independent, intelligent and moral, all of these combining to form an exceptional person who was not going to conform to the norms that society placed upon her. Elizabeth is virtually the one exception to the rule in Pride and Prejudice, the only person who steps out of society and all its