Jane Austen's Presentation of Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen presents Mr Collins as a character with many different
traits. Mr Collins is a man who is very aware of his social status,
likes to impress people, is extremely proud and has an inflated ego to
name but a few.
The first time we get a mention of Mr Collins, is in chapter thirteen,
where we learn that Mr Bennet has in fact never met the man who will
inherit the house upon Mr Bennet's death. We learn this from Mr
Bennet, and the way he says, "``it is a person whom I never saw in the
whole course of my life.''" This suggests that Mr Collins' arrival
will be one of great surprise and unexpected. Also, it gives a hint of
suspicion, as Mr Collins is Mr Bennet's cousin and yet they have never
met before, so why has he suddenly decided to write now?
However, the first time we see the character of Mr Collins, is when Mr
Bennet reads out his letter. In the first sentence, Mr Collins says:
"The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honourable
father, always gave me much uneasiness" I feel that here Mr Collins is
trying to sweeten the family up, so that he could in turn receive
something for trying to heal the rift between the two families. Yet
again, I wonder why he has decided to write now at this time and why
he has not done it sooner.
He then goes further on to say, "Right Honourable Lady Catherine de
Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh". Here I feel he is name dropping
to impress the Bennets, he is making himself out to be important and
of a higher social status to the Bennets as he uses her full name
rather than just saying Catherine de Bourgh, this also shows he is
very proud of being acquainted with her. It seems to me that he is
trying to heal the breach, but at the same time show the Bennet's that
he has friends in high places and he seems to take great pleasure in
boasting this, therefore making himself more manageable.
However, the full reason for his letter becomes apparent later on in
the letter, when he says to Mr Bennet about his daughters, "assure you
of my readiness to make them every possible amends, - but of this
hereafter". Here he is hinting at a proposal to one of the daughters.
I feel that this shows that everything he does is about money and his
own happiness. He feels that after meeting the girls for the first
time that they will happily marry him and therefore he will receive
more money, he feels that he will be easily accepted because they are
in such a desperate economical need. He must be very arrogant to think
this and this is also shown later on in the story.
In Volume One, Chapter Fourteen, we see the arrival of Mr Collins and
the first dinner they have together. Even though Mr Bennet had not
seen Mr Collins before, he knew that he would be more than happy...