Pride and Prejudice
How we cite our quotes:
Charlotte herself was tolerably composed. She had gained her point, and had time to consider of it. Her reflections were in general satisfactory. 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. Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it. (22.3)
Charlotte and the narrator lay it out for us here: marriage is Charlotte's only option. Even being married to Mr. Collins is better than having to live with her parents or as an unwanted and permanent houseguest with her brothers (think about Miss Bingley, who's still unmarried and living with her brother). We can't say we blame her.
"I see what you are feeling," replied Charlotte. "You must be surprised, very much surprised—so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins's character, connection, 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." (22.17)
As Socrates once said, the secret to happiness is having low expectations. (Or something like that.) Charlotte doesn't expect fireworks and earthquakes from her marriage; all she wants is a house to keep and, presumably, kids to raise. (Ugh, a houseful of tiny Collinses.)
He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. (34.6)
What does Darcy's boneheaded proposal have to do with marriage? It shows us exactly why he's not ready to tie the knot. He hasn't learned to respect Elizabeth yet, much less think about her feelings. A happy marriage takes a lot more work from both partners.