Study Guide

Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice

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Mr. Collins

(Click the character infographic to download.)

The boorish, pompous, and ridiculous heir to the entailed Bennet estate, Mr. Collins is also a clergyman whose parish is in the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. (What's that? You're not impressed?) He's obsequious and conceited—just check out how he says that he "sometimes [amuses] himself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions" (14.11). In other words, he practices his speeches ahead of time.

(Click the infographic to download.)

There's a lot to love about this guy, but we're going to focus on just one of his many awesome (and practiced) speeches—his proposal to Lizzy. Prepare to swoon.

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. […] Thus much for my general intention in favour of matrimony; it remains to be told why my views were directed towards Longbourn instead of my own neighbourhood, where I can assure you there are many amiable young women. 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. To fortune I am perfectly indifferent, and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I am well aware that it could not be complied with; and that one thousand pounds in the four per cents, which will not be yours till after your mother's decease, is all that you may ever be entitled to. On that head, therefore, I shall be uniformly silent; and you may assure yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass my lips when we are married. (19.9)

We can actually imagine the outline that Collins wrote. It probably looked something like this:

Proposal to Elizabeth Bennet

I. Explain reasons for marrying
a. duty of clergyman
b. will make happy
c. Lady C. suggested it
II. Explain reason for marrying EB, i.e. business re: entail
III. Assure EB of violent affections
a. am well aware she has no money
b. won't make a big deal about it

Wow. We can't believe she turned him down.

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