Moll, Pamela, Clarissa, Jane, Elizabeth, Fanny, Catherine, Mary…………well, after having followed all the fortunes and misfortunes of these heroines, one thing is for certain: this marriage business was tiring and frustrating for both the girls and their mothers. Yes, their mothers. These ladies stood between their husbands’ will and their daughters’ whims and tried ,as much as they could, to preserve the precarious emotional balance of their families. Girls could be easily forced to yielding, but what happened if desperation led one of them to choose for the most dreaded resolution: elopement, without the blessing of matrimony? The family was simply ruined. And what could happen if you had five girls to marry and you were under threat of the most chauvinist will which entailed your house, estate, everything you own to the male line? Distressed? Strained? Anxious? I guess so. This is exactly what Mrs Bennet must have felt for a long part of her fictional life, her nerves are in fact very often mentioned in the novel. Luckily she is married to a weak, good-natured husband that allows her to move freely in the attempt of avoiding the possible disgrace embodied by Mr Collins, the future heir. On this purpose she will use every weapon, break every moral rule that stands between her and the target. She lets her younger daughters enjoy the pleasures of society even if the eldest are not married yet, she plans to let Jane stay the night at Netherfield, Mr Bingley’s grand house, sending her on horseback because it’s about to rain, the couples of lovers are always left alone so as to facilitate intimacy and many others more. Not everything worked well, if we consider Lydia’s affair, but at the end of the novel, three of the five girls will end up married and even if one day Mr Bennet died and she had to leave her house, I’m pretty sure Mr Darcy would give her a nice apartment at Pemberley. Maybe.
But if you couldn’t rely on Moll Flanders’s beauty and many “talents”, if your family couldn’t provide you with a considerable dowry, if your time were running by and you would find yourself very close to the scary age of thirty still unmarried, what was the only opportunity left to a girl in the secluded neighborhood of Jane Austen‘s English countryside? Every girl’s nightmare: odious, hypocritical, presumptuous, obsequious Mr Collins. That was the only answer to that girl’s prayers. Charlotte Lucas , Elisabeth Bennet‘s best friend, knows that the man may be her last chance of marrying and accepts Mr Collins’s proposal even if she is well aware that she is his second or even third choice. But she doesn’t care. She is not looking for love and passion, she professes hersel unromantic in fact, but for that safe place in society that only matrimony can guarantee. She firmly believes that “marriage is entirely a matter of chance” and that “it ‘s better to know as little as possible” of the future partner. Astonishing words, but yet we don’t have to be deceived because Charlotte is neither cold nor desperate. She is an intelligent, sensible but also sensitive woman who is well aware that reason, rather than emotions, will ensure her a place in that society. Consequently she is the only one who is not deceived by Mr Wickham’s charms or believes that Jane should do more to win Mr Bingley’s affection. She knows the rules of love, but she also knows that love is not her game. Furthemore she is also well aware that she has just a few cards left to play in the other game: the pursuit of a husband. Therefore before her time is over she will finally score her goal: Mr Collins.