Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Chapter 22 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
In as short a time as Mr. Collins's long speeches would allow, everything was settled between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waived for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained. (22.2)
Here, Charlotte is accepting Mr. Collins, and hoo boy is there a lot to say. Obviously, this passage is dripping with sarcasm: "in as short a time as Mr. Collins's long speeches with allow," "the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness," the "pure and disinterested desire of an establishment"—we might even call Austen catty, if we used that kind of language. But what really grabs our attention is that phrase "pure and disinterested." On the one hand, this is heavy irony: Charlotte's desire to have her own home is the exact opposite of pure and disinterested (meaning "not influenced by personal advantage"). On the other hand, "love" is pretty much the pinnacle of being "interested"—i.e., having a personal investment in something or someone. So, by not being in love with Collins, Charlotte is being disinterested—but not uninterested. Tricky tricky, Miss Austen.
Elizabeth quietly answered "Undoubtedly;" and after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard. It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins's making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte's opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen. (22.18)
This passage demonstrates Elizabeth's idealism—one should marry out of love and respect, not for material comfort. Luckily Elizabeth gets her wish in the form of Darcy. But in addition to love, she also bags the richest guy in the book. Hmm.
This was very amiable, but Charlotte's kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; its object was nothing else than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins's addresses, by engaging them towards herself. (22.1)
Apparently the rule about not marrying your best friend's ex didn't apply in the nineteenth century. To be fair, Elizabeth assumes that no one could possibly want to marry Mr. Collins. You might even say she's too prejudiced to see it.