“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Welcome, welcome, welcome, to this epic showdown between two single men in want of a wife. Tonight, our two opponents are going to battle against each other to win the hand of Miss Elizabeth Bennet in marriage. Their strategies will be different, their words will be passionate, and their emotions will not be contained. A single victor shall emerge from this glorious battle of words, and secure the prize of marriage forever. Only time will tell who is to prevail in this epic showdown and ultimately win the favor, affection, and heart of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Hang on to your seats, folks, because this is going to be one wild ride!
May the odds be ever in your favor, and LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for our first opponent: Mr. William Collins!
Why Is He After Elizabeth?
Since Mr. Bennet had no sons to inherit his money and property when he dies, Mr. William Collins, who is a clergyman, is next in line. In the novel, Mr. Collins comes to Longbourn to look over the estate, and, to make himself feel better about inheriting the Bennet’s money and property, is resolved to marry one of their 5 daughters. He eventually sets his sights on Elizabeth, the second eldest of the daughters, and asks for her hand in marriage in Chapter 19 of the novel.
“He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal.” – Chapter 13 of Pride and Prejudice
Mr. Collins is a pompous fool and a complete idiot. While he has nice manners, some of the things he says are pretty stupid. Elizabeth and her sisters find his idiocy very humorous at times, but none of them are interested in him at all. His feelings for Elizabeth are not at all genuine, and he feels as though he must marry her to compensate for inheriting her father’s money and property.
One morning at Longbourn after the family has just finished breakfast, Mr. Collins asks for permission to have “a private audience” with Elizabeth. She knows exactly what’s coming, and begs her mother and sister Kitty to stay with her. However, Mrs. Bennet also knows what’s up, refuses Elizabeth’s request, and ushers herself and Kitty out of the room. Elizabeth then finds herself alone with Mr. Collins, and determines “that it would be wisest to get it over as soon as possible.” She then sits quietly and allows Mr. Collins to speak his mind.
*cue British announcer voice*
“Believe me, my dear Miss Elizabeth, that your modesty, so far from doing you any disservice, rather adds to your other perfections. You would have been less amiable in my eyes had there not been this little unwillingness; but allow me to assure you, that I have your respected mother’s permission for this address” … “Almost as soon as I entered the house, I singled you out as the companion of my future life. But before I am run away with by my feelings on this subject, perhaps it would be advisable to state my reasons for marrying.”
What a solid start from Mr. Collins. He’s got the flattery down to a tee, and he’s even obtained permission to ask for her hand. But, it does sound a bit like he’s trying to write an essay when he says that he’s going to “state his reasons for marrying.” Elizabeth is obviously trying to suppress some giggles. Let’s see where this goes.
“My reasons for marrying are, first, that I may think it a right thing for every clergymen in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly – which perhaps I may have ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honor of calling patroness.”
Hmmm… so he’s trying to set an example and make everyone except Elizabeth happy. That right there is a major issue. Now, let’s skip all this rubbish about his patroness – literally no one cares about her. The real focus here should be on Elizabeth.
“… But that fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place – which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years.”
HE’S TALKING ABOUT HER FATHER’S UPCOMING DEATH IN THE PROPOSAL?! What a HORRIBLE move by Mr. Collins – if Elizabeth wasn’t already opposed to marrying him, she sure is now. I mean, WHAT IS THIS MAN THINKING?!
“… And now nothing remains but for me to assure you in the most animated language the violence of my affection.”
He could have phrased this sentence in so many ways, but THAT’S what he chose?
What an unfortunate turn of events for Mr. Collins – he’s doomed now. Let’s skip his awful selection of closing words and see what Elizabeth responds with.
“You are too hasty, sir. You forget that I have made no answer” … “Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me. I am very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do otherwise than to decline them.
Oof. Mr. Collins has just been politely, but firmly rejected. Don’t feel too bad for him though, he most definitely deserved it after THAT speech. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!? Mr. Collins is STILL continuing his proposal!
“I am not now to learn, that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favor; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second, or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.”
GREAT SCOTT, THIS MAN IS INSANE! What an idiotic statement from Mr. Collins – the man is SO DESPERATE that he’ll stop at NOTHING to secure Elizabeth’s favor! Let me see…yes, this arguing back and forth between Mr. Collins and Elizabeth continues for some time, so let’s skip to the closing lines of his proposal.
“You are uniformly charming! And I am persuaded that when sanctioned by the express authority of both your excellent parents, my proposals will not fail of being acceptable.”
This man. This poor, stupid, blind-to-the-truth man. He just won’t accept defeat. Can he not see that Elizabeth is undoubtedly refusing him, or does he REALLY think that he’s still got a shot? Only time will reveal the answer to these questions and more, so for now, let’s continue to our second opponent to see what he has to offer.
Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for our second opponent: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy!
Why Is He After Elizabeth?
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the rude and arrogant (but extremely rich) bachelor who quickly catches feelings for Elizabeth at a ball. The thing is, he has absolutely no idea why. Charmed by her beauty and grace, Mr. Darcy is overcome with passion, and feels that he must make a move or he’ll drive himself mad. Despite his firm resolve to marry Elizabeth, there are three slight problems with this arrangement: 1) Elizabeth hates Mr. Darcy with everything in her, 2) Many characters would strongly disapprove of their match, and 3) Mr. Darcy is so disturbed by his feelings for Elizabeth that he has no idea how to express his flaming passion for her.
Despite these insurmountable odds, Mr. Darcy unexpectedly proposes to Elizabeth in Chapter 34 of the novel. His strategy is drastically different from Mr. Collins’, and his tactics will eventually play into Elizabeth’s final decision.
“Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared to his friend.” – Chapter 3 of Pride and Prejudice
Five words: handsome, rich, proud, arrogant, rude. That about sums him up. (However, his love for Elizabeth was genuine, and not forced like Mr. Collins. But we’ll see how he feels about that in a moment.)
Literally nothing – he just barges into the room as Elizabeth is thinking about how much she dislikes him, paces for a bit, and begins.
I see Mr. Darcy has begun by inquiring after Elizabeth’s health for about the bajillionth time now. I’m beginning to believe he doesn’t know of another way to begin a conversation. He’s taken a seat. Wait, what in the world… this man is pacing about the room like there’s no tomorrow! He appears to be extremely agitated, and I bet my hat that he’s sweating like crazy under all those fine clothes and that stiff collared shirt. Oh dear, now he’s beginning.
“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
OH. MY. GOSH.
WHAT A START.
WHAT A CHAMPION.
WOW. What a KILLER opening from Mr. Darcy! Elizabeth is shocked, but wouldn’t we all be if we were in her shoes?
AND HE KEEPS GOING! My, this speech is LOADED with passion! But it’s evident that he’s still trying to uphold his pride throughout this endeavor… even so, Mr. Darcy is obviously MADLY in love with Elizabeth. He’s finished speaking now, let’s see what Elizabeth responds with.
“In such cases as this, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however un-equally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot – I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone…”
REJECTED?! Oh dear, Mr. Darcy does NOT look pleased with this turn of events. He seems to be trying very hard to control himself, but to no avail – he’s CLEARLY angered by this situation. Let’s see what he says next.
“And this is the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting: I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small importance.”
Mmmhhmmm, we ALL know you lyin’ when you say it’s “of small importance.” PUH-LEASE. Elizabeth is not THAT stupid – she knows you’re upset and is coming for you. Let’s see what she responds with.
“I might as well inquire, why with so evident a desire of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character?” … “I have every reason in the world to think ill of you.”
My, my, my. Elizabeth is REALLY coming for him. GREAT SCOTT! She’s now accusing him of ruining her sister’s happiness and reducing another man to poverty and despair! What bold accusations from Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and it seems as though they are true – Mr. Darcy has turned an INCREDIBLE shade of red! He’s trying to make a comeback, but to no avail. Elizabeth’s proverbial fire has been fueled, and she’s not stopping now.
“You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it. From the very beginning – from the first moment, I may almost say – of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.”
MY WORD! Elizabeth has made her point very clear during this little discussion – she absolutely DESPISES Mr. Darcy. He appears to be shocked by her last remarks, and is beginning to speak again.
“You have said quite enough, madam.” (yeah, go figure) “I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.” *exits*
Well, that was… something. At least Mr. Darcy ended on a somewhat polite note, tied it back to his obsession with Elizabeth’s health, and took his leave quickly. (If I were him, I would have been outta there faster than you can say “what an awful proposal.”
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Darcy has just delivered one of the best and worst proposals in all of human history. He started off with a bang, was rejected, accused of ruining lives, and to finish it off, was burned to a crisp by Miss Elizabeth Bennet. I bet his self-esteem will never recover from those horrid blows, and that he’s now gone off to sulk in his million-dollar mansion.
Well folks, it’s now up to Elizabeth to make a choice: marry the idiotic Mr. Collins or the arrogant Mr. Darcy. Who shall win this glorious battle of the heart? Only time will tell who shall emerge victorious from this brutal fight, and ultimately prevail in this epic showdown.
Thank you all for attending tonight’s battle, and remember to place your bets for the winner in the comments below! ;)
(Also, no remake will ever come close to the sheer perfection of the 1995 BBC version. I rest my case.)
Have a great week!