Explore the presentations of Collins in Pride and Prejudice

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Olatunde Osikoya
Explore the Presentations of Collins in Pride and Prejudice
Mr Collins is initially presented to the reader after the plot of the novel has been set; he is introduced
to the reader at this specific point in the novel to provide comic relief to an otherwise intense plot,
which has seen tensions rising between members of the Darcy, Bennet and Bingley families. Collins is
first described to be a man who is a "gentleman and stranger" by Mr Bennet who has never been
acquainted with Collins his whole life. Mr Bennet's use of the word "stranger" hints at a future
displeasure of Mr Collins by the Bennet family.
However this does not manifest into future tensions as Austen brings in an epistolary element to
show his extremely softened (but contradictory) manner of expressing himself to the other
characters. Collins' manner of speech in his letter at first appear to be said in an unapologetic tone as
he states that having "frequently wished to heal the breach", this is because the statement suggests
intentions of mending the broken relationship that existed between Mr Bennet and his late father.
However the letter continues to say that Mr Collins has been "so fortunate to be distinguished by the
patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh", within the instant that Mr Collins
writes this, the pomposity in his manner of speech becomes clear. It becomes just as clear in Collins'
"earnest endeavour to demean "himself "with grateful respect to her Ladyship", the effect on the
reader is comical as the statement suggests that Collins believes that he faces hardship even trying
to "demean" himself when trying show is respect to her Ladyship, which is shows him to be ultimately
ridiculous and a comical character, providing comical relief for the readers.
From his overall manner of expression in the letter, Mr Bennet concludes his method of speaking to
consist of a "mixture of servility and self-importance", the sarcastic tone of Mr Bennet places
emphasis of the sibilant nouns, the humour in Mr Bennet's sarcasm shows that Austen has used the
opinion of Mr Bennet comically to satirise the character of Mr Collins, exposing the flaws of
clergymen in 19th century Britain. Many clergymen of this era would have shown servility in the face
of Christianity but might have contradicted this trait by unconsciously behaving self-important as
being clergyman was a very respectable position in society, the Church was usually financed by
wealthy aristocrats; which improved the social "connections" of clergymen, therefore explaining why
a character such as Collins is presented so comically.
Austen uses the structure of the dialogue to expose the contradictory nature of Mr Collins in a less
comical way. Upon his arrival "Mr Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to
be silent himself". In plain text the sentence connotes that Mr Collins is depicted to be confident of
himself; not "in need of encouragement" and assertive ("nor inclined to be silent himself") due to his
loquacious nature. However when addressed thoroughly, the subtext behind the sentence is
revealed, and with stark contrast too. The two phrases "neither in need of encouragement", "nor
inclined to be silent himself" reveal Mr Collins to be arrogant and thinking lesser of the Bennet family.

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Olatunde Osikoya
On the other hand, Collins begins to appear sycophantic towards Mrs Bennet as he "complimented
Mrs Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters". In plain text it would appear that the narrative is
breaking into the voice of Mrs Bennet. The subtext behind the sentence implicitly reveals that the
motive behind Mr Collins' sycophantic behaviour is to persuade Mrs Bennet into allowing him to
marry one of her daughters.…read more

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