In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, how is Mr Collins' attitude towards love and marriage different or similar to Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One way in which Mr. Collins' view of love is similar to Romeo's in Romeo and Juliet, is that both men are very flighty and fickle. Romeo quickly switched from Rosaline to Juliet. Likewise, Mr. Collins quickly changed from being interested in Jane to Elizabeth and then finally to Charlotte.

However, their reasons for their fickleness are different. Romeo was attracted to Rosaline out of lust, and while his attraction to Juliet was also physical, to him, emotionally, it felt much deeper than his attraction for Rosaline. Romeo truly believed himself to have fallen deeply in love with Juliet at first sight. While Mr. Collins' attraction for both Jane and Elizabeth were based mostly on looks, he also sought to meet them because he learned that they were pleasant with good natured dispositions, something that is essential in a clergyman's wife.

Another difference is that Romeo fell in love of his own mind; no body influenced him, accept arguably cupid. Collins, on the other hand, was influenced to marry by Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It was because she advised him to marry as soon as possible that he decided to meet his cousins at Longbourn. While, during his proposal speech to Elizabeth, he states that he wants to marry to set an example and that it will increase his happiness, he emphasizes that Lady Catherine told him that he "must marry" (Ch. 19, Vo. 1).

Another difference between Romeo and Collins is their inclination towards beauty. Romeo was strongly attracted to Juliet, who was very beautiful. While both Jane and Elizabeth are also beautiful, we know that Charlotte is actually very plain. She is also much older, at the age of 27, and in danger of becoming an old maid. While Mr. Collins probably finds Charlotte's looks at least acceptable, the real reason he chose her is that she encouraged him, in other words, flirted with him.

However, one more similarity between Romeo and Mr. Collins is that both men sought relationships that would mend family feuds. Friar Laurence hopes that a marriage between Romeo and Juliet will end the family feud. Likewise, Mr. Bennet had some sort of quarrel with Mr. Collins' father. Mr. Collins seeks to repair the relationship and marry one of the Bennet daughters in order to help keep Longbourn in the Bennet family.


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