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Free Study Guide-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-Free Plot Summary
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Chapter 22

Summary

Elizabeth is grateful that Charlotte entertains Mr. Collins, which keeps him in a good humor and away from her. Elizabeth assumes she is simply being kind to Mr. Collins and the Bennets; in truth, Charlotte, who greatly fears being a spinster, is interested in Mr. Collins as a husband for herself. She does not care if her husband is foolish and vain, as long as she has a husband; she has no romantic ideas that marriage must be based on love. She tells Elizabeth, "I am not romantic you know. . . I only ask for a comfortable home."

Charlotte’s attention to Mr. Collins pays off for her. In his characteristic garrulous way, he proposes to her and tells her to set the day of the wedding. Sir William Lucas and his wife are delighted with the match, but Elizabeth is horrified when she learns that her friend has consented to marry the detestable man.


Notes

Elizabeth is appalled by Charlotte’s decision to marry the foolish Mr. Collins. She does not understand the depth of fear that Charlotte has possessed about being a spinster and her willingness to compromise to find a husband; marriage to Charlotte is little more than an economic arrangement. Jane Austen, as a sensitive female novelist, tried to expose the plight of women trapped in a man’s world, where the culmination of womanhood lies solely in matrimony and motherhood. In addition, a single woman had few means of providing an income for herself; as a result, the spinster was usually destined for a life of poverty, which is what Charlotte is trying to avoid and what Mrs. Bennett fears for her unmarried daughters.

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