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|Not just what-ifs
Written by Tracy W
(5/20/2007 8:40 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Well, that would solve Charlotte's problem at least ;-), penned by Adrian
Part of my argument is that in marrying Mr Collins Charlotte is reducing her ability to cope with what-ifs. This is due to her situation as a married woman in Regency England where married women had very few rights.
So for example, if Charlotte's oldest brother marries a Fanny-Dashwood type, and for some reason she couldn't live with any of her other brothers or sisters, then Charlotte could look for work. But if it turns out that Charlotte has married a Fanny-Dashwood type and she can't live with Mr Collins then, well, she could desert him and look for work, but legally all her earnings would be his. And she may need to be in hiding from him as legally he could demand she returned home. These are risks that Charlotte does not face if her older brother marries a Fanny-Dashwood type.
And if the marriage results in children this raises the stakes again. Working to support yourself is one thing for a Regency gentlewoman. Working to support yourself and a child would be far more difficult. Leaving your children in the custody of the father would be heart-wrenching.
This is why I do not regard Charlotte's decision to marry a man she has known less than four days as prudent or pragmatic in any sense of the words.
And I hope you are joking when you imply that the question of who brings up children after a parent's death is not that parent's problem.
I think it is very graceful of you to allow a woman in a novel written some 200 years ago the free use of her understanding. I am agog with curiosity as to how you would have acted otherwise, if you had decided not to allow her this courtesy.
Incidentally, I hope Charlotte remains happy too. I don't think her wrongs are such that deserve life-long suffering and I do actually know there were serious pressures on her to do what she did. I certainly am luckier than I deserve, I hope Charlotte is too.
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