We first hear of Mr Collins, one of Mr Bennet’s distant cousins, in a letter addressed to the family living in the house which after Mr Bennet’s death will become his own. In this letter he sounds very pompous, irrelevantly reiterating and repeating the name of his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr Collins is honest that he has an ulterior motive for wanting to stay at Longbourn: he wishes to take the hand of one of the Bennet sisters in a marriage which would ensure that at least one daughter of Mr Bennet would remain comfortable, living at Longbourn as ‘Mrs Collins’.Order now
He does not ask to stay at Longbourn, he expects his stay to be welcomed, and even desired, by the Bennet family. “I remain, dear sir, with respectful compliments to your lady and daughter”: this quote shows how ingratiating Mr Collins is: a side of his character which the reader sees more readily during the rest of the novel. Having previously thought Mr Collins was an “odious man”, Mrs Bennet is quick to change her mind after Mr Collins made compliments towards her daughter and herself in the letter. Upon arrival at Longbourn Mr Collins assures that “the young ladies I come prepared to admire”.
The word ‘prepared’ in this quote gives the implication that Mr Collins does nothing in a rash manner and has everything planned in what appears to be quite a sly way. Once inside the house Mr Collins begins to commend each and every item of furniture within it. Mrs Bennet would on any other occasion have been delighted at this, but she knows that when Mr Collins entails the estate all that he admires will be his own. Mr Collins believes that by ingratiating Mrs Bennet about her house he will please her, but this begins to vex her a fair deal. The girls were not the only objects of Mr Collins desire”, here we can see that Mr Collins views the girls as nothing more than materialistic, as objects.
By the evening, Mr Collins is getting somewhat tiresome as he “eloquently praises” his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with great vivacity and unstoppable determination. “Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people”; Mr Collins cannot see that Lady Catherine is proud because he is proud himself and rates Lady Catherine very highly: perhaps high enough to warrant a little, or is Lady Catherine’s case a lot, of pride.
Mr Collins is also very much in awe of Lady Catherine – another reason why he does not see her as other do. Mr Collins informs Mrs Bennet that he lives near Lady Catherine is his “humble abode”. He is trying to make himself sound more lowly than he really is. He uses the phrase “humble abode” to demean himself and elevate Lady Catherine. “I am happy on every occasion to offer those delicate little compliments which are always acceptable to ladies”, it is obvious by this that Mr Collins is ingratiating with every woman he meets.
His complimentary manner is usually planned, but he gives it “as unstudied an air as possible”. Mr Bennet is quite amused by Mr Collins and realises that he is “as absurd as he had hoped”. When Mr Collins begins to read from a book aloud, he takes down the most intellectual looking and begins reading with a very dull tone which proves boring for everybody, especially Lydia, who interrupts loudly and raucously. The opening sentence of chapter fifteen is very ironic: “Mr Collins was not a sensible man”. It is also stated that chance rather than ability got him Lady Catherine as his patron.
As a clergyman, his right as a rector has made him “a mixture of pride, obsequiousness, self importance and humility”. Mr Collins is also rather vulgar, lacking subtlety and obvious care. Mr Collins main reason of staying at Longbourn was to take one of the Bennet sisters’ hands in marriage. He felt that he could have whichever daughter he chose, whether she wanted him or not. It is obvious that it does not take very much to change Mr Collins’ mind. As soon as Mrs Bennet informs him that Jane is no longer available, he instantly diverts his attentions to Elizabeth.
Mr Bennet encourages Mr Collins to attend Meryton with the other Bennet girls. This is because Mr Bennet is tired by Mr Collins who he found amusing for a time before growing exceedingly bored of him. When Mr Collins and the girls arrive at Mrs Philips’ house, Mr Collins begins to ingratiate Mrs Philips as he did Mrs Bennet. Upon his return to Longbourn Mr Collins “gratified Mrs Bennet by admiring the manners and politeness of Mrs Philips”. “He had never met with so much attention in the whole course of his life”, this statement implies that Mr Collins is perhaps rather lonely and very much an attention seeker.
He talks about Lady Catherine every time he feels that nobody is paying very much attention to him. Mr Collins vexes Elizabeth at the ball by telling her that he will be dancing first with her; he doesn’t understand that Elizabeth wants to dance with Wickham. Mr Collins thinks that he is too irresistible to miss out on. When Elizabeth first senses that Mr Collins intentions with her are more than friendship, she instantly realises that there is nothing the world which would make her want to marry him.
It is now obvious that Elizabeth holds an extreme dislike for Mr Collins. At the ball Mr Collins suggests to Elizabeth that he would like to make himself known to Mr Darcy, a nephew of Lady Catherine. Elizabeth tries to advise him against it, but Mr Darcy claims: “I consider myself more fitted by education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself”. This comment would make Elizabeth want to see the stubborn and arrogant Mr Collins make a fool of himself.
When Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth he does not sound nervous and his proposal is well rehearsed. If Mr Collins truly cared about Elizabeth and if Mr Collins truly loved Elizabeth he would be a lot more nervous than he actually is. Mr Collins’ proposal is almost clinical in its style and tone. His pomposity and arrogance show through when he expects Elizabeth to accept him. Mr Collins, after realising that Elizabeth does not want him, informs her of the fact that no other man would want her because of her poor status and social standing.