Charlotte Lucas again pays attention to Mr. Collins when the Bennets dine with the Lucas family. Elizabeth is grateful. Charlotte claims she is glad to help, but she has an agenda of her own. However, it seems likely to fail due to Mr. Collins having to return home soon.
Mr. Collins, though, goes to see Charlotte the next morning without notifying the Bennets of his intentions, wanting to see whether he is successful in his goal. He proposes to Charlotte, who has “accidentally” met him in the garden. She accepts. She does not love him. She merely wants to be married.
Mr. and Mrs. Lucas are pleased. It is a good match. Mr. Collins will have a good income. With Charlotte married, her younger sisters can have their debuts sooner. Her brothers are glad she won’t be an old maid.
Charlotte is aware of Mr. Collins’ flaws. However, marriage is the only honorable provision for a girl like herself. It may not give her happiness, but it will give her security. She considers herself fortunate, as she is considered old at the age of 27 and has never been attractive.
The only concern Charlotte has is losing her friendship with Elizabeth, who she does value. She knows Elizabeth will look down on her for marrying Mr. Collins. She wishes to tell Elizabeth herself and asks Mr. Collins not to inform his family just yet.
Mr. Collins finds it difficult not to reveal why he had left early that morning. Mrs. Bennet extends an invitation to return to visit them in the future. He tells them he may accept that invitation sooner than they think. Mr. Bennet, who is not thrilled at the idea, tells his cousin that they wold nto want him to risk the anger of Lady Catherine by his long absence from his duties.
Mrs. Bennet is hoping that Mr. Collins desire to return means that he will propose to another one of her daughters. Mary would be glad to have him as a husband.
The next morning, Charlotte tells Elizabeth about her engagement. Elizabeth knew that Mr. Collins had transferred his affections to Charlotte, but she could not imagine that her friend would accept him. Elizabeth is dismayed.
Charlotte tells Elizabeth that she was never a romantic. She only wants a good home. Mr. Collins has a steady character, good connections, and a good situation. She can probably be as happy with him as one can expect from a marriage.
Elizabeth wishes her happiness. She finds it horrible, though, that Charlotte is succumbing to the lures of worldly advantages. She thinks it will be impossible for Charlotte to be happy.