Charlotte Lucas's Practical Approach to Marriage and the Conditions of Women of Her Society in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Salma Haque
2013 IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science  
Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice has several minor characters which are realistically portrayed. Charlotte Lucas is one of them. She is the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lucas and is portrayed as a victim of her society. The dominant theme of this novel is marriage and is the only hope for her as she is a realist. She has plain appearance and is not in a position to disregard social conventions. Hence, she has practical good sense and a practical view of matrimony. Her marriage with
more » ... er marriage with Mr. Collins is not self-deception as she marries with her eyes open. For this reason, she does not consider her marriage a mistake though it is loveless. She is a fictitious character, but we should remember that Austen's characters are from real life. Charlotte's marriage is symbolic showing the financial insecurity of marriageable girls in her times. Therefore, her inability to disregard the existing social code needs to be judged from the viewpoint of 18 th century England. However, we cannot overlook her as a character who has admirable qualities. She draws mixed reactions. Some find her a moral failure and some appreciate her decision to marry Mr. Collins for financial security. Through her character, the agonies of unmarried women, their yearning for marital safety are exhibited in this novel. This paper focuses on the grounds for Charlotte's decision to marry Mr. Collins, the conditions of women of her society and her likeable qualities which save her marriage and individualize her. Female characters are always core of Jane Austen"s novels. In her Pride and Prejudice there are many female characters who fascinate many researchers. Some works talked about Charlotte Lucas and there are different voices from different critics about her. Weinsheimer (1972, 404) criticizes her for her interest in the establishment than the real happiness in marriage and also of her self-deception. However, Newton (1981, 11) argues that she was also the victim of her society. Tanner (1986, 108) also agrees that we should sympathize with her instead of blaming her. But their studies are not detailed and have not touched her good sides. Though women of Charlotte"s society had lower social status than men, it does not mean there were no intelligent, sensible women. Austen also applies more positive term to her. So, this paper aims to show how realistically she represents the deplorable conditions of the marriageable women of her society and how she individualizes herself among her contemporaries with her good attributes. Charlotte Lucas is past the romance as she is twenty-seven years old.
doi:10.9790/0837-0743843 fatcat:kglu5xrvxrgjlduhzzar5dizdy