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|Too many mince pies?
Written by Adrian
(4/29/2010 12:40 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I she in love with security?, penned by Connie
If Charlotte appears (or is) mercenary, where is the surprise? By and large she has grown up poor (for her station in society), and her plain appearance has let her reach 27 years of age with no desirable marriage prospects. So (presumably after much observation) Charlotte has developed a very pragmatic (if flawed) philosophy of getting a husband and managing a marriage. She clearly does not want to be in Miss Bates's position of being single and poor and likely to grow poorer as she ages.
Thus she engineers a husband and develops a plan not only to manage him as much as possible but to put the family in the way of as much financial growth and security as possible. She does not push Lizzy towards Darcy in place of Col. Fitzwilliam, but she is observant and evaluates the differences. We see from Mr. Bennet what dire prospects may arise from inattention to a family's well being (not to mention Wickham's disregard for his own economic security). So given the choice between neglect and planning, Charlotte plans for the best possible outcomes.
We cannot say whether Charlotte's approach is totally mercenary; we do not know enough about her. We know her match with Mr. Collins was not a love match, and we know she looks out for opportunities for her family. But she also may have thrown herself into visiting the parish poor and doing other good works when she does not have visitors and we do not read about her. She may be trying to "pay forward" her fortune such as it is, but that would have no role in the story JA wishes to tell.
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