Mr collins proposal to elizabeth
How does Austen use humour to portray Mr Collins and his proposal? Austen presents Mr Collins to be the most unwillingly comical character in the whole novel through his extreme idiocy and pomposity. From Austen’s description of Mr Collins it is clear that he is self satisfied, proud and serious. “Mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman”. This shows that although Mr Collins isn’t in a extremely high position in society he is proud of who he is and perhaps thinks himself to be more important than what he is in reality.
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In terms of physical appearance, Mr Collins is shorter than Darcy which could suggest that he has a weaker chance of marrying Elizabeth, as Darcy is more powerful and serious. Mr Collins isn’t presented as a purposely comical character, but rather the opposite, he is always serious in every situation and is often blinded by his own ego to see that people often mock him. Mr Collin’s proposal to Elizabeth is one of the most humorous points in the novel, which reflects his personality due to the fact that Austen presents it in a ironically humorous way.
The first instance of irony is that Collins mistakes Elizabeth’s unwillingness to be left in the room alone with himself as ‘modesty’ and shyness when in actual fact she Just finds the whole situation uncomfortable. Another example of irony is when Mr Collins assumes that all young ‘modest’ girls refuse a proposal from men that they intend to accept, “l know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application”, and so takes Elizabeth’s refusal speech as encouragement and continues to persuade her with his literate proposal.
This highlights how clueless and arrogant Mr Collins is as he has the audacity to continue with his proposal ignoring all sense of ridiculousness, and in a way patronises Elizabeth as he suggests that he knows how all young ladies act, and doesn’t take her response seriously which reinforces how unromantic and scripted the proposal is. The words “your sex” indicate how domineering men were at the time, and he almost contradicts himself as earlier he states that he singled Elizabeth out, but then however goes on to group the whole “sex” together suggesting that omen are all exactly the same.
Mr Collins speaks of passion and love for Elizabeth as though he is reading a list or quoting something. The proposal is clearly unromantic and literate when Mr Collins begins listing his reasons for wanting to marry. “My reasons for marrying are, first that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish, secondly,”. This shows that marriage for Mr Collins is simply a convenience rather than emotion, opposed to Elizabeth who elieves marriage is based on true love, and so his proposal becomes even more un realistic and comical as their views are so different.
The line “for coming into Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a wife” suggests that Mr Collins created a plan for his proposal before hand, and suggests that he chose Elizabeth purely shows the dominance of men at the time as women were almost like a prize that they selected. Although Mr Collins is trying to convince Elizabeth into marriage, he suggests that she ‘almost’ his first choice when in actual fact he had planned to arry Jane. In contrast to this, he then goes on to say “but before I am run away with by my feelings on this subject”.
This makes the situation more humorous as Mr Collins is clearly contradicting and humiliating himself as his earlier actions show that his need for marriage is not based on ‘feelings’ and that he may not have any romantic feelings towards Elizabeth at all. Elizabeth’s reaction to Mr Collins reaction is perhaps what makes the whole situation more humorous. Firstly, she does the unthinkable and refuses him, “l am perfectly erious in my refusal”, which would have been out of the ordinary and frowned upon in society at the time.
The word “serious” shows how independent she is which was strange at the time as women were almost in possession of a man and you were only as good as the man you married. Strangely, Elizabeth finds the whole situation humorous, and slightly entertaining as he is so pompous and self- righteous that she cant help but laugh. “Made Elizabeth so near laughing that she could not use the short pause he allowed her to stop him further”.
Instead of stopping Mr Collins, she inds the whole situation overly awkward as she is aware of the total incompatibility of each other, in comparison to Mr Collins who is totally unaware of the fact that he looks ridiculous and so continues, hoping to impress Elizabeth. As Mr Collins continues on, Elizabeth begins to get frustrated as she tried to subtly suggest that his idea of marriage would never work, however Mr Collins stays persistent. “It was absolutely necessary to interrupt him now’.
This is humorous as it shows how self obsessed Mr collins is as he thinks of himself too highly and believes that he is orthy of every woman, which is why he is so shocked when Elizabeth assures him that she is rejecting his proposal. “l am persuaded that when sanctioned by the express authority of both your excellent parents, my proposals will not fail of being acceptable”. The reader may petty or sympathise with Mr Collins as his inability to understand and pride could pass off to be innocence, which suggests he has no idea on the matter of marriage and love even though he speaks like he does.
Mr Collins often elaborates in situations thinking himself to be the epitome of elegance, in ontrast to Elizabeth who stays silent and offers mere responses to his proposal. This is humorous as it highlights how shocked Elizabeth is at Mr Collins arrogance and reinforces their total incompatibility. To conclude, Austen successfully portrays a humorous scene which reflects the unwillingly comical character of Mr Collins. She does this using ironic humour, and in particular makes Elizabeth’s response to the situation much less elaborate than the proposal itself, which shows how idiotic and narrow minded she views Mr Collins to be.