Mary and Mr. Collins
Posted by Laura W on December 01, 1997 at 15:24:29:
In response to What a pair!!!, written by Constanza on November 27, 1997 at 11:34:08
] Just imagine those two together!!! There would have been a sort of feedback between them, strengthening the "pompousness". I am so glad Jane Austen didn't get the two married!!!!
I disagree-- I think they were perfect for each other and I've never understood why Austen didn't pair them off.
Perhaps the whole thing is meant to demonstrate how short-sighted Mr. Collins is. If he really felt duty-bound to marry one of Mr. Bennet's daughters (which was his avowed intention and the purpose of his visit), he should have taken a couple of days to get to know them-- if he had, he would have chosen Mary. Instead, he thought it was appropriate to choose the eldest (without regard to any other consideration), and when she was unavailable, the next eldest. After Lizzy's rejection I fully expected him to move on down the line and ask Mary, which would have satisfied everyone. They could have gone off to Rosings and had a grand time toad-eating to Lady Catherine, causing very little trouble to anyone else, and with the obvious (intended0 advantage of allowing one of Mr. Bennet's grandsons to inherit Longbourne.
Instead, Charlotte crosses his path by chance and he asks her. I think he would have asked any woman he met, out of pique-- and I wonder that Mrs. Bennet, whose driving force in life was to get her daughters married, didn't tell Mary to go ask him about another passage from Fordyce's Sermons before he could get out of the house. (If Charlotte hadn't showed up at just that moment, I think that Mary herself might have taken advantage of the situation.) I suppose Mrs. Bennet was simply too upset with Lizzy's refusal to consider alternatives.
Then there is the whole discussion of Charlotte and her motives, which was probably Austen's most important motivation in pairing them off. But the way Mary and Mr. Collins seem almost "set up" from the beginning, until the last moment, makes me wonder if Austen didn't think so too, but decide later (perhaps during her major rewrite?) to use Charlotte to make a point about the necessity of marriage for women. Perhaps Charlotte was added in altogether at such a later point of drafting because she doesn't seem to serve any other purpose in the narrative--e.g., if Mary had married Mr. Collins then Lizzy could have gone to visit her at Rosings (I forget the village/parsonage name).
BTW, I always thought that Mary hid her disappointment well. Her showing off at the Netherfield ball was such an obvious attempt to attract Mr. Collins's notice and I have always felt so sorry for her!
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