Mr. Collins’ and Mr. Darcy’s first proposals to Elizabeth. How do they

Mr. Collins’ and Mr. Darcy’s first proposals to Elizabeth. How do they

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Mr. Collins’ and Mr. Darcy’s first proposals to Elizabeth. How do they
style and the content of the proposals reflect on how these three
characters are portrayed in the rest of the novel. In what ways are
attitudes to marriage different from today?

Pride and Prejudice

Compare and contrast of Mr. Collins’ and Mr. Darcy’s first proposals
to Elizabeth. How do they style and the content of the proposals
reflect on how these three characters are portrayed in the rest of the
novel. In what ways are attitudes to marriage different from today?

Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ reveals the importance of social
status and how marriages affected women at that time. The book opens
with the words, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single
man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ This
implies that the chief interest in the book will be marriage. The
main character is Elizabeth Bennet who, unlike Charlotte Lucas, does
not want to marry only for a comfortable and to avoid the stigma of
not being married, but also for love. There is a big contrast between
Mr Collins’ and Darcy’s proposal and give us insight into these three

Mr. Collins is a figure of comedy in this novel. He is described as
‘not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little
assisted by education or society’. He speaks in a very formal way
indeed. He is a picture of ‘pride and obsequiousness, self-importance
and humility’ At Longbourn having been told that Jane was likely to
marry Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins decides to propose to Elizabeth Bennet,
‘having no feelings of diffidence’ with ‘all his solemn composure’
because he supposes this is only a ‘regular part of business’.

First, he asks for a private conversation with Elizabeth. Before
Elizabeth has met Mr. Collins, she was ‘chiefly struck with his
extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine de Bourgh’, but after she
sees him, her dislike towards Collins is even stronger. At the
Netherfield ball, Mr. Collins requests the first two dances with
Elizabeth that let her feel ‘herself completely taken in’. In the
meantime, she also realizes that her mother is planning a marriage for
her, but she has never expected this proposal. Therefore, this
proposal gives Elizabeth ‘a blush of surprise’. She immediately tries
to avoid for not having a private conversation with Mr. Collins and
says ‘I am going away myself’ which shows she wants to escape from the
embarrassment. However, her mother insists upon Elizabeth ‘staying and
hearing Mr. Collins’’.

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Now she knows this proposal has her mother’s
approval and Mr Collins also admits that he has her mother’s
‘permission for this address’. Despite her independence, which is
shown when she walks all the way through to Meryton to visit her
sister, Jane, Elizabeth decides to stay because she will not oppose
her mother’s injunction and this also shows she is very practical,
knowing how to survive under her mother’s stupidity. Toward this
proposal, Elizabeth’s feelings ‘were divided between distress and
diversion’, which shows hers sense of humour and the absurd that she
shares with her father. In other words, this proposal is seen as a

Mr. Collins’ speech is pompous, likes the conversation during his
first dinner at Longbourn when Mr. Bennet found him ‘as absurd as he
had hoped’ and longwinded as if Mr. Collins is addressing public
audience. He sounds as if he has leant it by heart as he says
Elizabeth can ‘hardly doubt the purport of (his) discourse’, but it is
emotionless. He compliments Elizabeth, making her even more attractive
as he talks about her ‘modesty’ and ‘natural delicacy’. He is trying
very hard to please her; he states that as soon as he entered the
house, he has already ‘singled (Elizabeth) out as the companion of
(his) future life’. This is not true because he first chose Jane, but
Mrs. Bennet told him that Mr. Bingly was very interested in Jane, so
Mr Collins has to change from Jane to Elizabeth who is ‘equally next
to Jane in birth and beauty. He also mentions that Elizabeth’s ‘wit
and vivacity, especially when tempered with the silence’ will suit
Lady Catherine de Bourgh who Mr. Collins tries to please which is
ironic because Elizabeth has a really lively character and Lady
Catherine dislikes her.

He proposes in a very orderly manner with all the observance, again,
which is supposed ‘a regular part of businesses. In his proposal, he
lists the ‘reasons’ why he needs to marry, but none of them are
concerned about love or Elizabeth’s feelings. The first reason is that
he thinks it is right for a clergyman to marry. Secondly, it is for
his own happiness. Thirdly, ‘which perhaps (he) ought to have
mentioned earlier’ because it is his main motivation. Lady Catherine
de Bourgh said a clergyman likes him ‘must marry’, which implies how
sycophantic and snobbish he is and Lady Catherine’s advice will become
his motivation to do things, which shows his ‘obsequiousness’.
Lastly, he mentions the inheritance of the estate after the death of
Elizabeth’s father and says this has been the main ‘motive’ because he
is aware that ‘one thousand pounds in the four percent will not be
(Elizabeth’s) till after (her) mother’s decease. It seems now he is
offering Elizabeth a huge kindness. Mr. Collins’ speech shows he is a
really cold man and materialistic. He does not know what love is. The
motivation is all about business and money, he is only concern about
his future and job, but not Elizabeth’s feelings, or perhaps what she
wants. He sees marriage as a business transaction to talk about
‘selecting a wife’, neither feelings nor diffidence are involved.

Before Mr. Collins has finished his proposal, Elizabeth interrupts and
cries that he is being too ‘hasty’, more emotion is shown here but the
emotion is Elizabeth’s and it is nothing to do with love. Altogether,
Elizabeth refuses him firmly three times and thanks him again and
again, but he is too conceited to accept her refusal and puts it down
to female modesty. This also emphasises his ‘self-importance’.

However, unlike Mr Collins, Mr Darcy who eventually becomes
Elizabeth’s husband holds a very important role in the novel. His
proposal is a big contrast to Mr Collin’s; it is a potential tragedy
because if he had not proposed to Elizabeth again, both would have
lost their chance of happiness. This proposal is significant because
they have discussed the opinions that they have about each other. That
leads Mr Darcy to write a letter to explain all the misunderstanding
around them and their companions.

In the ball, Darcy comments on Elizabeth and says she is ‘not handsome
enough to tempt’ him. As a result, Elizabeth thinks Darcy is
‘arrogant’ and ‘conceited’. Darcy is an extremely rich middle-class
man, who has ten thousand a year’. He has ‘handsome features’ but is
cold and filled with pride. After Elizabeth discovers Mr Darcy has
intervened in the lives of her beloved Jane and Mr Bingly, this only
increases her dislike of him.

When the door bell rings, Elizabeth assumes that it is Darcy’s cousin,
Fitzwilliam, who she has a favourable impression of. However, when she
sees Mr Darcy walk into the room, she shows ‘utter amazement’, Mr
Darcy is very polite but emotional. As soon as he enters the room, he
‘began an enquiry after (Elizabeth’s) health, but ‘she answered him
with cold civility’. Darcy’s actions are also very nervous, he ‘(sits)
down for a few moments, and then getting up (walks) about the room’;
then he says ‘how ardently (he) admires and loves (Elizabeth)’.
Elizabeth does not expect this, her ‘astonishment (is) beyond
expression’, she ‘coloured’, ‘doubted’ and is ‘silent’. Darcy’s speaks
of her ‘inferiority’ and tells Elizabeth that he loves her ‘against’
his ‘will’, ‘reason’ and even against his ‘character’. Straight after
Darcy proposed, Elizabeth feels ‘sorry for the pain he was to receive.
She could not be sensible to the compliment of such a man’s affection
even though she thinks she and finally she ‘lost all compassion in
anger’, her sorrow does not last long, she feels that she is being
insulted but definitely not complimented.

Elizabeth’s attitude is very rude as she says ‘if I could feel
gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot – have never desired
your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most
unwillingly’. After Darcy hears this about what she has said, his
complexion becomes ‘pale with anger’, he is ‘struggling for the
appearance of composure,’ which shows his pride and that he is trying
to hide his anger and disappointment.

Moreover, Elizabeth also stresses Darcy has ruined ‘the happiness of a
most beloved sister’, and she accuses Darcy of having reduced Wickham
to ‘his present state of poverty’. But Darcy does not deny this but
tells her later in the letter. However, unlike Mr Collins, he does not
lie. He tries very hard to separate his friend, Mr Bingly and Jane
because she never shows her feeling, so Darcy does not want Mr Bingly
to waste time loving someone who does not love him. This is because
Jane’s heart is ‘not likely to be easily touched’ and the other reason
is about the Bennet’s social state and Mrs Bennet’s behaviour.

When Elizabeth accuses Darcy of not behaving ‘in a more gentlemen-like
manner’, she is being abusive and insulting. She accuses him is being
‘arrogant’, ‘conceited’ and having ‘self disdain of the feeling of
others’. Yet, after hearing all Elizabeth’s comment, Darcy is still
very polite and gentlemanly; he also ends by showing concern for
Elizabeth’s health. Although, he speaks calmly, his body language
completely betrays him, ‘he walked with quick steps’, and this clearly
shows his anger and disappointment.

This proposal is quite different from Collins’. Both Darcy and
Elizabeth are deeply involved emotionally and love is involved. We can
clearly see how Darcy loves her although we are not given the actual
words of his proposal, both from his body language and nervous actions
and from his language. He begins by telling her ‘how ardently (he)
admires and loves’ her. And Elizabeth ‘cries for half and hour’ after
Darcy has left. She cannot control her emotion. Unlike Mr Collins,
who thinks Elizabeth rejects him is the way of being modest and thinks
‘it is usual’; Darcy accepts her refusal immediately.

However, there are similarities between the two proposals. Certainly,
Elizabeth refuses both of them, but neither of them is expecting the
refusals from Elizabeth. Both men make references to her inferiority
both socially and materially. Mr Collins mentions what he will
‘inherit’ from Elizabeth’s father. Yet, Darcy’s and Collins’
reactions are different. Mr Collins thinks it is usual ‘with young
ladies to reject’ proposals because of social convention. He is quite
calm about the refusal because there is no emotion involved. On the
other hand, Darcy does not expect Elizabeth’s refusal, his face shows
‘no less resentment’ then ‘surprise’. He becomes ‘pale with anger’,
and ‘the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature’. This
shows there is strong motional involvement. Darcy also requires an
explanation while Collins thinks he knows why he is being rejected.

At the time when the novel was written, the attitude towards marriage
was very different from nowadays. In the past, people had always
thought about the social status and particularly, family backgrounds.
In the novel, the marriage of Collins and Charlotte Lucas reflects
this situation. There is no any love involved. Collins gets married
because Lady Catherine de Bourgh wants him to and Charlotte is because
she is already ‘over-age’ to get married, if she misses the chance,
she probably will not have another. However, in our society, social
background is not as important as before, everybody can marry someone
who they are in love with, like Darcy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth does
not want to marry someone purely because they are rich, but also
someone who she loves. Although Darcy is such a ‘good catch’, she
still refuses his proposal until finally, they resolve all the
problems and misunderstandings. Darcy put down his pride and Elizabeth
eliminates her prejudice. Their marriage is based on love, which is
similar to modern society. Nowadays, class distinctions are not as
important and people can marry for love rather than money; proposals
are not as formal; women have many more options, they can have their
own career, have sex and have children before marriage, or live with
their partners; homosexuality will not seen as inappropriate and
immoral. People are also allowed to choose whether they want children.
Therefore, we have much more freedom than before.
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