Category Archives: Chihuly

Pride and Prejudice characters: Charlotte and Mr. Collins

Charlotte & Collins

For a woman who came from a family of clergymen — her father, two brothers and four cousins wore a collar — Jane Austen certainly enjoys poking fun at them in her novels. And Pride and Prejudice’s  Mr. Collins is her most ridiculous clerical caricature. How on earth does sensible Charlotte wind up with such a buffoon?

A clergyman was a professional, just like a lawyer or doctor. He made his living in the pulpit, not at the bar or in the examining room, but he still needed to be a well educated man. Add to that a vicar needed have a high moral standard, be a good speaker and have compassion for the poor and needy.

David Bamber is Mr. Collins  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

David Bamber is Mr. Collins in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Instead we get conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly, self important Mr. Collins. He is a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, a social climber with a very good opinion of himself and his patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

He comes to Meryton to visit the Bennets. As closest male relative he is set to inherit the Longbourn estate on Mr. Bennet’s death. That is something, to his credit, that he feels some guilt over. So he decides to marry one of the five Bennet sisters. Jane is all but engaged to Mr. Bingley so he sets his sites on Lizzie.

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Poor Lizzie receives two of the worst proposals  of marriage in literature. The first is from Mr. Collins. He wants to get married because:

  1.  as a clergyman it would set a good example to the parish.
  2.  it will add to his happiness.
  3.  it is “the particular advice “ of Lady Catherine.
  4.  he has a violent affection for Elizabeth

Of course he doesn’t expect a rejected. For one thing he’s SUCH a catch, and for another he’s chosen well. The girls are desperate and he has them in a corner.

He literally can not believe that she declines his offer. Neither can her mother. And for a while Longbourn is long born with strife.

Queue Charlotte.

Charlotte Lucas is plain, pragmatic, good-tempered, funny, sensible, intelligent and unromantic.  She is 27 years old and Lizzie’s intimate friend. She’s such a good friend, in fact, that she comes to the rescue when Lizzie refuses Mr. Collins. She keeps him in good humor by listening to him and, one assumes, diverts him, making sure he’s out of ear shot of the shouting Mrs. Bennet and the giggling Lydia and Kitty.

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lizzie thanks her friend,  but “Charlotte’s kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; — its object was nothing less than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins’s addresses, by engaging them towards herself.” With a little encouragement on her part Mr. Collins transfers his ‘violent affections’ form one lady to the next and…

”In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, every thing was settled between them to the satisfaction of both… he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men… and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.”

Lizzie is surprised that Mr. Collins could so quickly change his mind  and settle on another life partner. But she is astonished that Charlotte could accept his proposal.  Charlotte reminds her however that she is…

”not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

In some ways Charlotte winds up in same situation as Mr. Bennet in the marriage department. Neither of them respect or love their partners. And both do what they can in daily life to avoid interacting with their spouses Mr. Bennet shuts the door to his library, while Charlotte sits in her parlor and encourages Mr. Collins to work with his bees or visit Lady Catherine.

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

At the end of the novel Mr. Bennet writes to Mr. Collins informing him that — despite warning to the contrary by both Collins and Lady Catherine — Lizzie and Darcy are soon to marry. Mr. Bennet advises Mr. Collins to  “Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the nephew. He has more to give.” If Mr. Collins heeds this wise advice he’d shift his alliance to Darcy who would never put up with the vicar’s toady behavior. That, combined with Charlotte’s even handed temper–which (hopefully) would rub off on Collins–MIGHT make him a more tolerable fool.


Here’s a clip of the wonderful Julia Cho and Maxwell Glick in a scene from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries…

Williamsburg & Richmond (part 5)

Richmond banner

[This is part Five of my What To Do in Williamsburg & Richmond Blog for part one go HERE. For part two go HERE. For part three go HERE.  and for part four go HERE.]

Previous tips included:


  1. Planning your trip in the Fall or Winter to avoid the heat and crowds.
  2. Staying in a Colonial House.
  3. Engaging with the locals.
  4. Visit the Wren Building
  5. Take the Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life Tour & the Behind the Scenes Tour
  6. Visit the De Witt Wallace and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museums
  7. Tour the Governor’s Palace
  8. Tour the Thomas Everard House.
  9. Visit Bassett Hall.
  10. Get spooky with it.
  11. Stop in to see the craftsmen making things with wood.
  12. Get your Ps and Qs in line at the Printers.
  13. Stroll along Duke of Gloucester Street.
  14. Stand witness for the prosecution at the Courthouse.
  15. EAT.

Richmond —

  1. Visit a Civil War museum like the Tredegar Iron Works
  2. Go Shopping in Carytown
  3. Eat at the Can Can Brasserie


Today we’ll finish up our tour of Williamsburg and Richmond with a stop at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The VMFA has an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and decorative arts. We particularly enjoyed the American Art with its Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri paintings.

Their collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco decorative arts is one of the largest collections outside of Paris. It includes a beautiful display of Tiffany lamps.

A Tiffany "Goldfish" lamp on display at the VMFA.

A Tiffany “Goldfish” lamp on display at the VMFA.

The collection of Arts and Craft furniture was really impressive. From Roycroft…

Roycroft bookcase

To Stickley…

Stickley Fall Front Desk

To Frank Lloyd Wright…

Frank Lloyd Wright Chairs and windows

To Greene and Greene Brothers

Greene sideboard

the display was surprising comprehensive. Admission is free to the museum’s permanent exhibits. And the Museum is open 365 days a year starting at 10:00 in the morning.

But the real reason we went to the VMFA was to see the traveling Chihuly “Breathe Art Into Life”  exhibit. The exhibit, which runs thru Feb 10, 2013 is a filled with spectacular light and shapes that defy gravity. And (especially coming from a pallet of muted earth tones in Williamsburg) it was a feast for the eyes.

There are 9 installations in the exhibit (including the giant chandelier that hangs in the atrium. Arrive a little before your entrance time so you can see the PBS film on the artist.

Chihuly boat 1

One of the Float Boats filled with Chihuly’s Fiori. The smooth glass floor reflects the dazzling glass, And you feel like you are walking along the smooth waters of a Venetian Canal.

The first room you enter holds Fiori and Float Boats. The artist was inspired to create Fiori and Float Boats when he was installing Chihuly Over Venice.  There he hung his massive, intricate chandeliers over the Venetian Canals, but he also dropped pieces of into the water. Locals were hired to  collect the floating orbs. When Chihully saw their row boats filled to the brim with his art he had the spark for Fiori and Float Boats. (The image in the RICHMOND banner at the top of the blog is the other Float Boat  in this display.)

You walk under Persian Ceiling. It is lit from above, and this time you get the feeling as if you are walking through the water, in an aquarium of light.

Persian Ceiling consists of over a thousand piece of blown glass

Persian Ceiling consists of over a thousand piece of blown glass

Chihuly layers pieces and nest smaller shapes into larger shapes in his Persian Ceiling. (Detail.)

Chihuly layers pieces and nest smaller shapes into larger shapes in his Persian Ceiling. (Detail.)

Chihuly, a native of Tacoma, Washington, drew inspiration from the “Slumped, sagging forms” [VMFA display card] of Indian baskets he saw on display at a museum for the “glass”  baskets he displayed in his Northwest Room. He also drew from his extensive personal collection of Native American blankets.

Some of Chihuly's blanket collection line the wall of the gallery.

Some of Chihuly’s blanket collection line the wall of the gallery.

A long low table runs the length of the room.

NorthWest table

Do you see the dovetail joining the split in the wood on the left? I loved how that echoed the patterns in the blankets.

And a wall of “baskets” — both the Chihuly glass versions and the traditional woven ones that acted as inspiration — line the other wall.

The glass in this room takes on the color of sand. We have definitely moved to the West.

The glass in this room takes on the color of sand. We have definitely moved to the West.

In Macchia Forrest the artist combines nine giant flower like bowls. Each bowl has thousands of colors.

Just one of the Macchia measures 27" x 38" x 30"

Just one of the Macchia measures 27″ x 38″ x 30″

The central installment in the exhibit is a room size garden of glass called Laguna Torcello. [Think “room” as in the size-of -my-house “room”.]

It is monocromanic at either end, but burst with exotic colors in the middle -- an entire years worth of glass winter, spring summer and fall.

It is monochromatic at either end but burst with exotic colors in the middle — an entire year’s worth of glass — winter, spring summer and fall.

A pink coral-esque structure soars to the ceiling, looking all the world like some Dr. Suessian underwater Christmas Tree.

"Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!" [The Whoville Christmas Song]

“Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!” [The Whoville Christmas Song]

A flower of white at one end of the installation. [Detail.]

A “flower” of white at one end of the installation. [Detail.]

This room returns us to “water”. The over 1,500 pieces almost seem to sway in the waves.

Colorful middle portion of Laguna Torcello. [Detail.]

Colorful middle portion of Laguna Torcello. [Detail.]

Chihuly began making Spears (known as Reeds on Logs) in Finland in 1995. The glass reeds are surprisingly strong. He uses salvaged red cedar from his home state for the logs.

Reeds On Logs

Reeds On Logs

Chihuly Breathe Art Into Life is $20 for Adults/$16 for Seniors, students and groups of 10 or more. It is worth every penny.

Chihuly sig

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