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|Ex post vs ex ante
Written by Tracy W
(5/21/2007 4:32 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Lizzy is safe from me…, penned by Robbin
I disagree that time will tell the validity of Charlotte's decision. I brought fire insurance at the start of last year, and over the whole year my house didn't burn down once. Does that mean that it was a bad decision of mine to purchase fire insurance? Equally, when I went tramping a couple of weekends ago, I carried a first aid kit with me that we didn't open once. Again, was it a bad decision to carry a first aid kit?
Uncertainty is inescapable in human affairs. We cannot judge the right or wrongness of a decision made under uncertainty merely based on how it turned out in any particular case. The reason I carry a first aid kit and buy fire insurance is that there may be an accident, and my house may catch fire, and I can't tell this ahead of time. The reason I advocate knowing the character of your husband and father of your children is that this increases the odds of getting a good man (recognising of course that any man may get a brain injury that causes a personality change), and good men operate not merely as an insurance policy for your children in case of your own illness or death, but as a support and aid throughout life, while a bad man can cause years of suffering even in a world with reasonably easy divorce, let alone for a woman in Charlotte's time and place. Charlotte can't know which she is getting after knowing Mr Collins for only four days, and that is dangerous.
Charlotte may be lucky and have a happy marriage, and putting the mortgage payment down on the long-shot for the Melbourne Cup (horse racing) may work out brilliantly too - that doesn't mean that either is prudent - anymore than the failure of my house to burn down last year meant that my decision to buy fire insurance back in January 2006 was foolhardy.
I am not sure why you chose to believe Charlotte's statement that she has considered Mr Collins' character over the fact that she has known him less than four days (and doesn't have any reports from people who have known him longer), and JA's definite statement that she accepted him solely from the desire for an establishment.
I do not expect Charlotte's pursuit of happiness to be the same as her friends. But Charlotte is a human being, like Elizabeth and like Jane and like Mr Bennet and like you and me, so there are general rules we can draw about life and we can learn from others' experiences. Marrying an unethical man turns out badly again and again in life, (I do not know of anyone who has had a happy life married to a conman or a violent man) so I draw as a general rule that one should seek to know your husband's character before marrying him. Oh, and you should carry first aid kits on tramping trips, and not gamble the mortgage payment.
Clearly you think otherwise. For this reason I guess we just agree to disagree on the prudence of marrying a man you have only known for four days.
(Note, in this post, I am talking about marrying men, but I think my points equally applies to women, so please swap genders if appropriate to you).
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