Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Start Free Trial

What does Charlotte's comment, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance," tell us about her?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Charlotte Lucas's marriage to Mr. Collins is more realistic and a more accurate representation of what marriage was like for women in 19th century England.  Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins is an arrangement of convenience, he needed a suitable wife, she needed a husband, love is not part of the equation.  

In fact Charlotte tells Elizabeth Bennet when she visits that the less she sees of Mr. Collins the better. Therefore, the marriage is a formality that she entered into to change her status from single to married.  She did not want to be a spinster, so she accepted Collin's proposal even though she does not love him, she tolerates him.  She has a comfortable home, appears content, happiness is not necessary, she is satisfied. 

What it tells us about Charlotte Lucas is that she is rational and reasonable and does not believe in the idea of being in love the way that Lizzie Bennet does. 

"Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth Bennet's best friend. She distresses Elizabeth by deciding to marry William Collins, Mr. Bennet's nephew, out of interest in his estate. Up until this point Elizabeth had respected Charlotte's sensibility, but her decision to marry Mr. Collins lost her much of Elizabeth's respect."

Charlotte marries Mr. Collins, after he is rejected by Lizzie, she does not hesitate to accept his proposal. She is logical and realistic regarding her future as a single woman, she needs a home of her own and the only way to get it is by marrying someone who could provide for your future.

Jane Austen's fairy tale marriages of Lizzie Bennet and Jane Bennet to men they love and who are very rich are just that a fantasy.  The idea the young women in 19th century Britain dreamed about, but rarely happened.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team