Category Archives: Florida

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.

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


Secondary Character Saturday — SPIDER (Anansi Boys)

Who: Spider

My take on the Anansi brothers, Fat Charlie and Spider. [Copyright: ritaLOVEStoWRITE.]

My take on the Anansi brothers, Fat Charlie and Spider. [Copyright: ritaLOVEStoWRITE.]

From: Anansi Boys

Written by: Neil Gaiman

Date of Publication: Jan 2008.

Why: He’s the trickster brother to the book’s everyman hero, Fat Charlie.  He’s the cool, funny, magical brother you’d always wish you had. Kinda. [Full disclosure: I’m really a card-carrying member of “Team Fat Charlie. ” But, as he’s the lead character, I couldn’t really pick him for this profile could I?  So I picked Spider, who is so like Fat Charlie! –Except he’s completely different.]

Here’s what happened when the brothers met:

“Fat Charlie blew his nose. “I never knew I had a brother,” he said.
“I did,” said Spider. “I always meant to look you up, but I got distracted. You know how it is.”
“Not really.”
“Things came up.”
“What kind of things?”
“Things. They came up. That’s what things do. They come up. I can’t be expected to keep track of them all.”
“Well, give me a f’rinstance.”
Spider drank more wine. “Okay. The last time I decided that you and I should meet, I, well, I spent days planning it. Wanted it to go perfectly. I had to choose my wardrobe. Then I had to decide what I’d say to you when we met. I knew that the meeting of two brothers, well, it’s the subject of epics, isn’t it? I decided that the only way to treat it with the appropriate gravity would be to do it in verse. But what kind of verse? Am I going to rap it? Declaim it? I mean, I’m not going to greet you with a limerick. So. It had to be something dark, something powerful, rhythmic, epic. And then I had it. The perfect line: Blood calls to blood like sirens in the night. It says so much. I knew I’d be able to get everything in there – people dying in alleys, sweat and nightmares, the power of free spirits uncrushable. Everything was going to be there. And then I had to come up with a second line, and the whole thing completely fell apart. The best I could come up with was Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty got a fright.”
Fat Charlie blinked. “Who exactly is Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty?”
“It’s not anybody. It’s just there to show you where the words ought to be. But I never really got any futher on it than that, and I couldn’t turn up with just a first line, some tumpties and three words of an epic poem, could I? That would have been disrespecting you.”
“Well….”
“Exactly. So I went to Hawaii for the week instead. Like I said, something came up.” [Anansi Boys]

Anasi Boys 2

Pros: He’s pretty much a god. He can make people do things with the power of suggestion. He talks to spiders. After living most of his life in hedonistic selfishness (he is a god after all) he learns to grow and love.

Cons: When we first meet him he is selfish and destructive.  He’s a liar and a cheat. And he never thinks about the real world consequences since he never sticks around long enough to deal with them. He steal’s Fat Charlie’s fiance, Rosie, and takes over his flat. He pretty much ruins Fat Charlie’s life.

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If you haven’t guessed… I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan. So I was thrilled when one of my besties, Lynn Reynolds gifted me Anansi Boys as an Audible Book  for Christmas. I’d only really done a handful of books on tape before, most notably the Harry Potter books (I’ve also done various books  through my Kindle’s text-too-speech while gardening or painting. But those sound like the “Garman car man” guy  so they don’t count.) Any way, I was really pleased with this Audible Book both for Lenny Henry’s narration and, especially, for the wonderful writing. I think you should give it a try…

Here’s the Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/Anansi-Boys-ebook/dp/B000FCKENQ/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

And here’s the link for the Audio version – http://www.amazon.com/Anansi-Boys-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060823844/ref=tmm_abk_title_0

[Image courtesy Amazon.com]

[Image courtesy Amazon.com]

  Click here to read the ritaLOVEStoWRITE Neil Gaiman bioBLOG


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