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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters. (1.1-2)
What Austen neglected to mention is that this "universal truth" is upheld only by scheming mothers like Mrs. Bennet. That's our take, anyway.
"My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly--which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness. […] But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured 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 not be for several years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection. […]" (19.9)
Mr. Collins's marriage proposal just keeps going on and on and on. It's all practicality. And it's the worst marriage proposal we have ever heard.
"But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavour to conceal it, he must find it out."
"Perhaps he must, if he sees enough of her. But, though Bingley and Jane meet tolerably often, it is never for many hours together; and, as they always see each other in large mixed parties, it is impossible that every moment should be employed in conversing together. Jane should therefore make the most of every half-hour in which she can command his attention. When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses." (6.5-6)
There's some heavy irony going on here. First of all, Darcy later becomes convinced that Jane doesn't love Bingley and so throws a big wrench into their road to happiness. Second, Darcy hides his feelings in a similar fashion to Jane, and Elizabeth is seriously caught off guard when he proposes. Lastly, here we see the first clues regarding Charlotte's opinions on love and marriage: trap the guy first, and then figure out if he's Mr. Right.