How does Mr. Collins interpret Elizabeth's first refusal of his marriage proposal in Pride and Prejudice?

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lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From Mr. Collins's point of view he just cannot imagine why Elizabeth is turning down his proposal.  He thinks that he has laid out all of the logical reasons for him to marry her, and he knows that she will be destitute upon her father's death because hewill inherit the family home of Lougbourne due the entitlement on the estate that it be inherited by a male heir.  He makes at least two references to his doing what Lady Catherine has told him what he should do, and we already know in what fawning esteem he hold Lady Catherine and her opinions.  He makes the logical (to him) assumption that Elizabeth would like to be married to someone who has a position in the church and some stability for his life.  All of this is well and good, except that he doesn't take in any account emotions.  He never tells Elizabeth how he feels about her except to say that he finds her in second place acceptable, after the beautiful Jane, to be his wife.  Elizabeth finds Collins rather odious from their first meeting and it would never have occurred to her to protect her financial future by marrying Collins.  She really cannot stand him on any level, and this proposal is all but insulting.  Collins thinks that she is merely playing "hard to get" by rejecting him; he has heard that's what women do to press the suit.  But Elizabeth is not playing any games.  She has declared earlier in the novel that she will not marry unless it is for genuine affection.  She devastates her mother with the rejection, for this marriage would have established financial protection for Mrs. Bennet along with all of the daughters, but Mr. Bennet applauds Elizabeth's decision.  Ultimately, Collins doesn't appear too upset.  He promptly proposes to Charlotte who has no reservations about marrying for financial security and not love.

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Pride and Prejudice

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