Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Putting In A Good Word For Charlotte

  1. #1
    Woman from Maine sciencefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    460

    Putting In A Good Word For Charlotte

    I have read many comments that have judged Charlotte harshly for pursuing and marrying Mr. Collins,
    not only here on this site, but on others as well.
    If we are comparing her to today's standards, it is much more likely that people will look unfavorably upon what she did.
    But Charlotte lived - and Austen wrote - almost 200 years ago.
    I have defended Charlotte's behavior as being quite normal and widespread in her day.

    A couple of days ago, I watched Out of Africa,
    an exquisite film with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, based on a true story.
    I hadn't seen it since it came out in the 1980's.
    Imagine my surprise when the film began with the following dialog
    between Karen the main character, and Bror the twin brother of
    her lover who has no intention of marrying her.
    She is 28 years old.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Karen- "You could marry me."

    Bror- "I have to marry a virgin. I can't stand criticism."

    K- "For the money, I mean."

    B- "Probably."

    K- "Bror, listen to me. I've got no life at all.
    They wouldn't teach me anything useful.
    Now I've failed to marry. You know the punishment for that."

    B- "Miss Dinesen's at home."

    K- "You've gone through all your money.
    You're off seducing the servant girls.
    We're a pair, you and I.
    I mean, at least we're friends.
    We might be all right.
    And if we weren't, at least we'd have been somewhere."

    B- "You don't think you're being too romantic?
    Am I supposed to think you're serious?"
    --------------------------------------------------------


    This event occured in 1914.
    I don't know if this was how it happened in real life,
    since I have not read the memoir,
    but the screenplay writer had no qualms about portraying it that way.


    My point is that marriage used to be approached differently than it is now,
    and we shouldn't judge too harshly because if we were in their shoes,
    we might have done the same thing.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    20
    I totally agree with you. Charlotte may have married for money, but who didn't at that time?
    Just read the first chapter of the novel: Mr Bingley is attractive because he has "5,000 a year" not because he is good-looking, and what Mrs Bennet expresses here was a widespread opinion at the time. On the contrary, Wickham and Lydia don't marry for money but out of physical attraction (not love obviously) and see what happens to them: they're not happy, they have no money and depend on the generosity of Jane and Elizabeth to survive.
    I personally think that Charlotte did the right thing: she's 27, she's "plain" and this would probably have been the only marriage proposal made to her. Moreover, Mr Collins is a gentleman (it is repeated several times in the novel), his income is decent and even though he is a fool, he provides Charlotte with a respectable life deprived of any financial worries.
    Of course, Charlotte did not have Jane's and Elizabeth's luck: she didn't find a husband who was both handsome and rich. Jane and Bingley, Darcy and Elizabeth love one another, or at least they esteem and respect one another, but we have to remember that those kinds of marriages were exceptional at the time, and if Bingley and Darcy hadn't been rich, they would most probably not have happened.

  3. #3
    Registered User Newcomer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    170

    Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by sciencefan View Post
    I have read many comments that have judged Charlotte harshly for pursuing and marrying Mr. Collins, .....
    If we are comparing her to today's standards, it is much more likely that people will look unfavorably upon what she did.
    But Charlotte lived - and Austen wrote - almost 200 years ago.
    Well it's all a mater of perspective, out of which end of the telescope we view a happy marriage. So I propose we reverse the telescope, so to speak, and describe to Jane Austen what progress we have made in 200 years.
    Nowadays it is universally accepted that a young woman marries for love. And statistics show that she divorces (50&#37 after two years. About 20 - 60% that do not marry have children out of wedlock and most do not have the means to support them, the burden falling on society. As for happiness in a marriage I do not have any statistics but it may be instructive to note that Austen does not describe in her novels a felicitous marriage of any duration. I wonder if Jane would view our marriages as progress?
    Jane Austen wrote from life and in creating these characters, it is safe to say that she had a fuller view of marriage than most women of her age.
    As to Charlotte or Elizabeth, they have only the attributes that she wrote of. They exist only in the pages of the book and when the final word is FINIS, so are they.
    Last edited by Newcomer; 04-16-2007 at 11:32 AM. Reason: error

  4. #4
    Woman from Maine sciencefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    460

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Newcomer View Post
    Well it's all a mater of perspective, out of which end of the telescope we view a happy marriage. So I propose we reverse the telescope, so to speak, and describe to Jane Austen what progress we have made in 200 years.
    Nowadays it is universally accepted that a young woman marries for love. And statistics show that she divorces (50&#37 after two years. About 20 - 60% that do not marry have children out of wedlock and most do not have the means to support them, the burden falling on society. As for happiness in a marriage I do not have any statistics but it may be instructive to note that Austen does not describe in her novels a felicitous marriage of any duration. I wonder if Jane would view our marriages as progress?
    Jane Austen wrote from life and in creating these characters, it is safe to say that she had a fuller view of marriage than most women of her age. Theory not outstanding, it may be instructive to consider that she married badly and there is reasonable evidence that when expecting, took her own life due to dehydration.
    As to Charlotte or Elizabeth, they have only the attributes that she wrote of. They exist only in the pages of the book and when the final word is FINIS, so are they.
    With statistics like those,
    one may wonder if we know what we're doing
    any better than they did 200 years ago.

    I'm sorry to differ with you but according to Pemberly.com
    Jane Austen never married.
    Also, they say that she likely died of Addison's Disease.
    Perhaps you were thinking of someone else?
    Last edited by sciencefan; 04-14-2007 at 11:14 PM.

  5. #5
    quelling seasong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Never never land
    Posts
    256
    Blog Entries
    4
    I've read Jane Austen's biography and she never married just to lend sciencefan some support.

    I agree that Charlotte is not a horrible person for marrying Mr. Collins. After all, all he wanted was someone to fulfill the role of wife and make Lady Catherine happy. All she wanted was security and a marraige so she didn't have to rely on her father all of the time. They both got what they wanted and if she's not romantic and doesn't feel that she needs real love kudos to her.
    Lost in silence.

    The general ramblings and mutterings of a starving artist:http://www.online-literature.com/for...p?userid=27522

  6. #6
    Registered User Newcomer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    170
    Quote Originally Posted by sciencefan View Post
    Jane Austen never married.
    Also, they say that she likely died of Addison's Disease.
    Perhaps you were thinking of someone else?
    Thank you for catching the error. You are quite correct that Austen was not married. I was reading Charlotte Bronte's letters, specifically the criticism of Austen and wrongly attributed the cause of their death. I need a proof reader before posting.
    I apologize to Jane Austen, to Charlotte Bronte and above all to the readers of the Forum for this awful mistake.

  7. #7
    Woman from Maine sciencefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    460
    I'm sure you are quite forgiven.

  8. #8

    New Site Charlotte Bronte

    Hi,

    I want to suggest you this new great site about charlotte bronte: charlottebronte.altervista.org
    bye

  9. #9
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    6,358
    Austen goes out of her way to make Mr. Collins a complete moron. What she is saying is anyone who ends up married to that kind of pathetic loser simply for a little bit of economic security is in a sense "whoring" themselves out. Agree or don't agree, that is the message I got from it.

  10. #10
    Woman from Maine sciencefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    460
    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Austen goes out of her way to make Mr. Collins a complete moron. What she is saying is anyone who ends up married to that kind of pathetic loser simply for a little bit of economic security is in a sense "whoring" themselves out. Agree or don't agree, that is the message I got from it.
    Hi. It's nice to see you again.

    I think a book very frequently has 2 messages,
    firstly, the one the author inteneded,
    and secondly, the one we glean for ourselves.

    I can very easily see why you would come to that conclusion.
    By today's standard's that would most certainly be true.

    However, I feel compeled to protect Jane Austen's reputation
    by pointing out that while she did have a contemporary who called such marriages "prostitution",
    only the revisionists of the last 30 years or so have
    accused Austen of doing so.

    I found that Jane's rebuttal in Charlotte's favor (chapter 24) was intended to give us another point of view,
    different from Elizabeth's, that was not so harsh.

    "``My dear Lizzy, do not give way to such feelings as these.
    They will ruin your happiness.
    You do not make allowance enough for difference of situation and temper.
    Consider Mr. Collins's respectability, and Charlotte's prudent, steady character.
    Remember that she is one of a large family; that as to fortune, it is a most eligible match;
    and be ready to believe, for every body's sake, that she may feel something like regard and esteem for our cousin.''
    ...

    ``I must think your language too strong in speaking of both,'' replied Jane,
    ``and I hope you will be convinced of it, by seeing them happy together.""

    If Austen truly wished to criticize the marriage, Charlotte should have been truly unhappy.
    But on the contrary, Charlotte and Mr. Collins had found a way to "dance together" that worked for them.
    And before the end of the book, even had an "olive branch" on the way!


    (Wickham and Lydia, on the contrary, had no such happiness.)

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    guangzhou china
    Posts
    19
    I have defended Charlotte's behavior as being quite normal and widespread in her day.
    ----quite good comment. i think Elizabeth is too harsh in rebuking charlotte. Elizabethherself may have the capital to wait for her prince, but charlotte is both older than her and much less beautiful than her. if she does not seize the chance, she may have no chance at all. of course, Elizabeth can boast that she would rather be a spinster than a collons' wife, but not everyone is so concerned about intelletual understanding between a couple. most of the people are more concerned with daily life. an old spinster would be a big shame to the family, even herself can endure it, she has to care about her family.
    Last edited by dirac1984; 04-21-2007 at 02:33 AM.
    i recommend you to read professor jeffery sachs' works and listen to his lecture. his BBC Reith lectures are current on the air, i know this has nothing to do with literature, but his lectures really worth listening. i think they are much more important than his popular text book on marcoeconomics.

  12. #12
    Woman from Maine sciencefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    460

    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by dirac1984 View Post
    I have defended Charlotte's behavior as being quite normal and widespread in her day.
    ----quite good comment. i think Elizabeth is too harsh in rebuking charlotte. Elizabethherself may have the capital to wait for her prince, but charlotte is both older than her and much less beautiful than her. if she does not seize the chance, she may have no chance at all. of course, Elizabeth can boast that she would rather be a spinster than a collons' wife, but not everyone is so concerned about intelletual understanding between a couple. most of the people are more concerned with daily life. an old spinster would be a big shame to the family, even herself can endure it, she has to care about her family.
    Finally we agree on something.

  13. #13
    Moderator Logos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    6,487
    Blog Entries
    19
    Just wanted to mention that this week the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography's site has featured excellent bios of Charlotte and her sisters and Karen Dinesen Blixen (pseud. Isak Dinesen) author of Out of Africa

    http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/lotw/
    Forum » Rules » FAQ » Tags » Blogs » Groups » Quizzes » e-Texts »
    ◕‿◕ currently reading Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark, Bill Dedman (2013)

    "the dogs bark but the caravan moves on" --Arab proverb
    .


  14. #14
    Registered User Mr Darcy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2
    I thought accepting Charlotte's decision was a given...apparently not. From the moment she told me she wasn't able to afford romance I had completely rationalized and understood why. Not in our times. Simple as that. I don't hold grudges against fictional characters either.

  15. #15
    Woman from Maine sciencefan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    460
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Darcy View Post
    I thought accepting Charlotte's decision was a given...apparently not. From the moment she told me she wasn't able to afford romance I had completely rationalized and understood why. Not in our times. Simple as that. I don't hold grudges against fictional characters either.
    I agree.
    The whole reason I started this thread is because
    too many have been too harsh on Charlotte.

Similar Threads

  1. Good books with character development and hope
    By ucdawg12 in forum General Literature
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 08-14-2007, 10:47 AM
  2. Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job
    By Robert Sutherla in forum Religious Texts
    Replies: 63
    Last Post: 04-09-2007, 11:14 PM
  3. Aphorism #140 Find the Good in a Thing at once.
    By Admin in forum Balthasar Gracian's The Art of Worldly Wisdom
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 12-16-2006, 05:12 AM
  4. Aphorism #62 Use good Instruments.
    By Admin in forum Balthasar Gracian's The Art of Worldly Wisdom
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-29-2006, 06:50 AM
  5. Dear Mom, I put a couple of people in Hell today.
    By AbdoRinbo in forum Religious Texts
    Replies: 323
    Last Post: 02-27-2004, 10:28 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •