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|I see what you are feeling...
Written by Robbin
(10/28/2005 6:01 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Marriage is seen as almost like a lottery..., penned by Delories
"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 all 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, connexions, 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." (P&P, Chapter 22)
I cannot agree that marriage was thought of as a lottery. Many, many people scheme and work towards the marriage partner they want in JA’s novels. Actions speak louder than chance in JA. When Charlotte Lucas tells Elizabeth Bennet in P&P, Chapter 22, “I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state” it might seem like she is playing at a lottery but I think Charlotte actually gave it a great deal of thought, she even maneuvered to secure him because IMO she is saying only that Mr. Collins will do as well as another, not that she actually believes another in the same situation will be any better or worse than him for her. Obviously, to me at least, Charlotte is much more interested in Mr. Collins’ circumstances than in Mr. Collins himself as we see when Elizabeth visits Charlotte in Hunsford:
“When Mr. Collins could be forgotten, there was really a great air of comfort throughout, and by Charlotte's evident enjoyment of it, Elizabeth supposed he must be often forgotten.” (P&P Chapter 28)
That Charlotte’s attitude is abhorrent nearly always to modern day readers I will grant but she did choose it, I do not believe she is a victim or a benefactor of fate. I will admit that fate as to circumstance play some role in life but I think the reason JA heroines do win in the end is that they take their fate in their own hands as much as possible by using their intelligence, good sense and sticking to their morals and values. For example, Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot and Fanny Price all refuse men they know will not suit them although they are encouraged by family members and friends to accept and Fanny is even sent away to her father’s house as punishment for her stubbornness. I think JA wanted to show women that they can be rational creatures and still experience romance and happiness. I would also submit that even those ladies who have hard times or come to sad ends are also there though their own choices much more than fate. Lydia Bennet eagerly chooses her fate with Wickham and Eliza Williams in S&S is seduced by Willoughby but she still has the choice to say no.
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