Tag Archives: Mr. Collins

Thoughts On the Anniversary of the Publication of Pride and Prejudice

It has often been said that first impressions are lasting impressions, even if they do not tell the whole story of the person we have just met.

First Impressions was the initial title of Jane Austen‘s immortal classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Today is the 206th anniversary of the book’s initial publishing.

Elizabeth Bennet is far from the simpering, fainting “save me” heroine who is waiting for a version of prince charming to sweep her off her feet. She is lively, intelligent and not afraid to share her opinion. Unlike other women of the time, she is not going to just marry the first man who asks her because it is her only option in life. Marriage in her eyes is about compatibility and affection, not someone’s income or family connections.  But even with her strengths, she is thoroughly human and learns that judging someone based on a brief first impression is not the best way to figure out who someone is.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is equally imperfect. I have to admit that there are moments in the first few chapters when I just want to smack him or call him a very unladylike name. But the genius of the character is that as the book goes on, Elizabeth and the reader learns that Darcy is not a snob. He is responsible for many people’s happiness and security, especially his much younger sister. He also finds large parties and social gathering difficult to maneuver socially. There are some people for whom they would rather stay home than go to a party where they know almost no one.

The thing that strikes me every time that I read Pride and Prejudice is that Elizabeth Bennet is a modern heroine. In a time when women had no rights, no voice and were basically chattel to the men in their lives, Elizabeth Bennet is not afraid to stand up for her rights. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. In Jane Austen’s world, marriage was more often about family, status and income than love, companionship and affection. She could remain single, but given her meager inheritance, she would likely be beholden to the generosity of others. She could marry her cousin, Mr. Collins and stay in her childhood home, but that marriage would be extremely unhappy.

I keep going back to Pride and Prejudice not just because it is one of my favorite books, but because I find reassurance and comfort in the book. When I am feeling down or unsure of my voice, Pride and Prejudice gives me strength to move forward. For that reason, among others, I keep coming back to this treasured masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mr. Darcy’s Proposal Book Review

Proposing to one’s (hopeful) future spouse is never easy. The question is, how does one frame the proposal? Does one try to convey the unending love and respect that one has for their beloved or does one use their income and societal status as temptation while basically insulting the one they love? In Pride And Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet is unfortunately the latter.

Writer and Janeite Susan Mason-Milks imagines a different narrative for the second half of Pride and Prejudice in Mr. Darcy’s Proposal. Just before Mr. Darcy is to propose to Elizabeth while she is staying with Mr. and Mrs. Collins in Huntsford, she receives a letter from home. Her father is extremely ill and may not be long for this world. Knowing full well that her cousin and her father’s heir, Mr. Collins may turn her, her mother and her sisters out of Longbourn as soon as her father is cold in his grave, Elizabeth accepts Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

While Mr. Darcy is thoroughly in love with his bride to be, Elizabeth initially sees this marriage as a marriage of convenience. She respects him and acknowledges that he is an honorable man, but she is not in love with him. Will this marriage become one for the ages or will it be in name only?

I wanted to like this book, I truly did. The initial chapters were fine. But then, the editor in me started to speak up. When I am reading a book, I don’t want to be thinking about the writing and editing choices that I would have made. I want to just enjoy what I am reading. That in a nutshell, is the problem with this book.

Do I recommend it? Maybe not.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Lady Catherine de Bourgh

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

On either end of the 1% spectrum, there are two kinds of people. On one end is the Bill Gates type, the person who uses his or her name and fortune to help those less fortunate. On the other end is the person who expects the rest of us to kiss their behind and fawn all over them just because they are famous, powerful and wealthy.

Jane Austen’s most notable member of the 1% community is Lady Catherine de Bourgh, from Pride and Prejudice. The elder sister of Mr. Darcy’s late mother, Lady Catherine is everything that the 99% expect of not just the upper classes, but the aristocratic set.  Lady Catherine is a first class snob who talks over everyone, thinks she is always right and has kept her only child, Anne, on a very short leash.  Under the assumption that her nephew and her daughter have been betrothed since childhood (despite any lack of evidence), Lady Catherine is far from pleased that Mr. Darcy may have an interest in Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman from a middle class family whose dowry is small and whose family home is entailed away to Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is not just Elizabeth’s cousin (and her father’s heir), but also  Lady’s Catherine’s rector.

Every good story needs a villain, an antagonist to the main character. While Lady Catherine is not a villain in the traditional sense, her opposition to Elizabeth makes her the villain in Pride and Prejudice.

To sum it up: Sometimes stereotypes are good, but only in small doses. While Lady Catherine is very much a stereotype, she is also the perfect antagonist to Elizabeth, the lead female character. If Austen was using Elizabeth as an example of how to act and how to grow from your mistakes, Lady Catherine is very much the opposite. She remains staunch in her beliefs, refusing to change or believe that her nephew would be happy married to Elizabeth. In creating Lady Catherine, the polar opposite to Elizabeth, Austen created a villain who is unforgettable. Characters must stand out to engage a reader or an audience member. If I take one lesson away from reading Pride and Prejudice, that is the lesson. Without memorable characters, the story falls flat and the reader/audience will walk away.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mr. Collins

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is a fine line between confident and being full of it. While some of us recognize where that line is and try not to cross it, others are completely blind and cross that barrier without knowing it.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins is full of it. He is awkward, obnoxious, a kiss ass and basically makes most readers toes curl in disgust. But he is also Mr. Bennet’s heir and set to inherit Longbourn one day.

From a practical perspective, a woman could do worse, especially in an era when her only option is marriage. He has a steady income from the church, is set to inherit a reasonably sized estate and has the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He may not be the smoothest or most charming of men, but who cares when you have a roof over your head, steady income and a husband who is loyal?

Yet Jane Austen knew better.

When one of her nieces, Fanny Knight was of an age to marry, her very wise aunt provided sane advice.

Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.

Mr. Collins knows that the most natural choice of a wife would be one of his cousins. He first sets his eyes on Jane, but is advised that she is soon to be engaged. Then he proposes to Elizabeth. The results are both comical and skin crawling.

When Elizabeth turns him down, Mr. Collins goes to the next best choice: Charlotte Lucas. With fewer choices available to her than Elizabeth, Charlotte says yes.  Mr. Collins finally has a respectable wife he can introduce to his patroness.  Content in his choices and lifestyle, Mr. Collins spends the rest of the book as he was when the reader met him: obnoxious, a kiss ass and full of it.

To sum it up: Not all characters grow or see the errors they have made over the course of the narrative. Some characters remain the same and are blind to how the other characters see them. Mr. Collins is one of those characters. While he is one of Austen’s most comical characters, he is a statement piece on how not to act.  A writer’s job is to find the balance between comedy and drama,  growth and stagnation and characters that audience loves and characters that the audience hates. That balance is one of the keys to success and keeping the reader hooked until they have turned to the last page.

 

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Charlotte Lucas

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Sometimes, life deals us a hand of cards that we would not choose for ourselves, if we had that choice. In cases like this, we have two choices, play the hand we are dealt or fight it bitterly and be miserable.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s best friend is Charlotte Lucas. While Charlotte’s family is rising in status, she does not have the luck of her family. She has neither beauty, a witty personality or a large fortune to use as bait for potential husbands. She is also unmarried at the age of 27, which means according to the era she lived in, she was set for life to be the maiden aunt who took care of everyone else because she had neither a husband or a child of her own to care for.

After Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins’s proposal, he goes straight to Charlotte, who accepts him.  Elizabeth is horrified, but Charlotte knows that Mr. Collins is the best man she could get as a husband.

Through a modern lens Charlotte’s choice seems hasty and foolish. But we cannot look at her choices through 2017 lens, we must look at her choices through the lens of the Georgian era.

In Emma, Austen makes light of the hardship that single women endure.

It is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman with a very narrow income must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman of good fortune is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else. (p. 93)

Unlike Emma Woodhouse, Charlotte’s options are far more limited. She can either marry Mr. Collins for income and a comfortable home or forever be the old maid in her family. Given the options that are before her, marrying Mr. Collins, as ridiculous as he seems, makes a lot of sense.  Charlotte plays the hand that life has dealt her.  Prince Charming, Mr. Collins is not (and certainly never will be). But he is a respectable man with a solid income and home to offer Charlotte, which is certainly better than living with her parents for the rest of her days.

To sum it up: Sometimes in life, and on the page, we are dealt a certain hand of cards. How we deal with that hand defines us. In creating the character of Charlotte Lucas, Austen not only makes the most obvious feminist statement, but she also comments on the choices we make based upon our circumstances and why we make those choices. As writers,  we have to explain to the audience why our characters are making the choices they are making. If the character’s motives are fuzzy to the writer, they will also be fuzzy to the reader. Charlotte’s motives for her choices are clear and by making that clear, that is the only way to hook the reader so they will come back for more.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mrs. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Anyone who reads Jane Austen can quickly determine that she is hard on the mothers in her fiction. With the exception of Mrs. Morland in Northanger Abbey, the mothers are either dead, emotionally absent or physically absent from their children’s lives. But her greatest mother character among the six novels is Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

Mrs. Bennet is one of the most cringe worthy mothers in all of literature. She prattles on about nothing, openly boasts about pushing her daughters toward wealthy men, embarrasses her children on a frequent basis and seems to always have a case of the nerves.

 

While the reader is laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we don’t realize that she is actually not only the more engaged parent, but she is more realistic about her daughter’s future. She knows that she has no sons and that upon her husband’s future passing, Longbourn (the Bennet family estate), will automatically pass to her husband’s cousin and heir, Mr. Collins.  She also knows that her husband is not the best money manager and has only left his daughters with a small inheritance. It is therefore incumbent on the girls to marry well.

The best comedy makes us think while we are laughing. In making Mrs. Bennet an over the top comedic character whose anxieties are based on real issues, Jane Austen is making the reader think. Female based inheritance was not common up until recently. Most inheritance went from father to son or father to nearest male relative. Jane Austen, in a way that only she can, is making a statement about the injustice of passing over daughters when it came to matters of inheritance, whether it be inheritance of a title, a property, family income or all three.

To sum it up: One of Jane Austen’s best qualities as a writer was to subversively make her audience think. After we stop laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we realize that in her own way, she knows what she is doing. She knows that her girls have to marry men of financial consequence. The lesson I take from this character as a writer is that there has to be to more to a comedic character than making the reader laugh.  Funny is well and good, but in the end the clown has to take off their makeup at some point. That is the lesson to learn from Mrs. Bennet.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Elizabeth Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

*A note before going forward-Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of my usual scheduled character reviews. Thank you to those who have been reading for your patience. I decided to end my character reviews with the human characters from Star Wars and not write about the non human characters. It’s time to start on a new series of characters.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The romantic heroine has been around since the dawn of story telling. Her story, with a variety of twists and turns (depending on the writer and the heroine) usually ends with the traditional happy ending.  When she published Pride and Prejudice and introduced the world to Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen took the traditional romantic heroine and spun her in a completely new direction.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second of the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Her father’s favorite and emotional mini-me, Elizabeth is smart, sarcastic and has a sharp tongue. Because she is without any brothers (and living in a world that seriously undervalues women), the family estate will go to a distant cousin, Mr. Collins, upon her father’s death. She also has a small dowry, which means that she must marry and marry well. In that world, marrying well-meant that marriage was more about income and status than affection and mutual interests.

When she meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, a friend of the Bennet’s new neighbor, Charles Bingley, she think he is a rich snob who is full of himself. Though I doubt anyone could blame her (“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 3 Volume 1).

Over the course of the book, Elizabeth will turn down a marriage proposal from the gag inducing Mr. Collins, be temporarily taken in by the charming smile of Mr. Wickham, and finally see Mr. Darcy for the good man he truly is. But first she needs kiss the frogs (Collins and Wickham) before she meets the prince (Darcy) and learn that first impressions may not always been correct.

Though Elizabeth Bennet was created over 200 years ago, she is a modern heroine.  She is a smart, spunky, nonconformist who is not willing to sell herself in the name of marriage just to keep a roof over her head.  Though she lived in a time with a very rigid class structure, Elizabeth is not the type of heroine who will unquestioningly give in to the demands of the upper class simply due to the mere differences of income and title. While she experiences some emotional bumps and bruises, Elizabeth is her own woman and is not willing to compromise who she is just to fit into the mold that women of her era blindly fit into.

To sum it: A romantic heroine does not have to be the fainting “rescue me” damsel in distress type. She can be her own woman and still get the guy (or girl, if one is so inclined) at the end of the story. Women still relate to Elizabeth Bennet  because she speaks truth to power to readers today as much as she did in the 19th century.  By creating characters that are human, modern and stand the test of time, the writer is sure to hook a reader or an audience member and keep them coming back for me.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Movie Review

Pride and Prejudice is one of those books. Everyone knows something about the book and the characters, regardless of whether or not they have actually read the novel.

In 2009, Seth Grahame-Smith released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mashup of the 19th century novel  and the horror genre.

This weekend, the film version of the book was released in theaters. This time around, Lily James and Sam Riley play the iconic would be lovers, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (now Colonel Darcy). Backing up Lizzy and Darcy is Bella Heathcote (Jane Bennet), Douglas Booth (Mr. Bingley), Matt Smith (Mr. Collins) and Lena Headey (Lady Catherine de Bourgh). Instead of the traditional Pride and Prejudice re-telling, zombies have invaded England and the Bennet sisters must do their part to destroy the unmentionables.

Anyone who knows me knows that Pride and Prejudice ranks as one of my all time favorite books. Like many Janeites, I did buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies when the novel hit the stores in 2009. I found the book to be a non traditional re-telling of Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed at the time. Like many film adaptations of novels, certain scenes or characters are cut for any number of reasons. Austen fans who cling to the cannon might not like the movie, but I enjoyed it.

Elizabeth Bennet was always a badass in my mind, she just needed the martial arts training to become that badass. It was refreshing to see women on-screen who can defend themselves and not wait to be rescued. My favorite scenes in the movie were scenes with Mr. Collins. While Mr. Collins  has always been a cringe worthy character, Matt Smith made him buffoon like and very funny.

In a brief nod to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, there is a Darcy diving into the lake wearing nothing more than a white shirt and underpants scene. Anglophiles and Downton Abbey fans, if your on the hunt for other Downton Abbey actors, there is another actor who had a brief role, especially during series 5. His character was unlikable and was one of the reasons for the broken engagement of one the older female characters. Who that actor is and what role he played, you will have to watch the movie.

I also recommend to stay past the initial closing credits. There is a brief scene that asks the question if we will see a sequel in the next few years.

I am the first to admit that I do not see horror movies,  but I found this movie enjoyable and entertaining.

Do I recommend it? Of course.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is presently in theaters. 

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Casting News

The casting for the upcoming movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is as follows (so far):

  • Mr. Collins (Matt Smith, Dr. Who)
  • Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth, Romeo and Juliet)
  • Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James, Downton Abbey)
  • Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston, Boardwalk Empire)
  • Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley, Malificent)
  • Jane or Lydia Bennet???? (Bella Heathcote, Dark Shadows)****- IMDB does not specify who she is playing, but but my guess is either Jane or Lydia.
  • Caroline Bingley (Emma Greenwell, True Blood)

Bear in mind that not all of the casting has been announced. I’m still ambivalent about Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, but only time will tell.  Overall, I am extremely pleased with the casting and will be very happy to sit in a dark movie theater and watch the Bennet sisters kick some zombie a$$.

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