The Character of Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice

Published: 2021-07-01 08:35:21
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Mr Collins is introduced to us for the first time in Chapter 13, possibly one of the most famous chapters of the novel. This is the chapter in which Mr. Bennet reads “the letter” out loud to his family. This letter gives us the most fundamental impression on Mr Collins’ character. The contents of this letter makes us judge him straight away and this judgement marks the image we have of this clergyman for the whole story. As soon as his name is mentioned by Mr Bennet at the start of Chapter 13, Mrs. Bennet’s reaction is: “Oh! My dear (... ) pray do not talk of that odious man! ”.
This shows how Mr Collins is not particularly liked in the society and the word odious is particularly well-suited to the man as we understand further on. This is because he ways of gaining trust and building relationships with other people is not very agreeable as he does this through endless flat compliments which, as Mr Bennet later points out are often: “are the result of previous study “. Most of the impressions we get of Mr Collins are heavily subject, as I said before, to the words of the other characters. This is further emphasized as the characters that immediately criticize William have good credibility in this.
Mrs Bennet is always the first to shine a good light on possible rich suitors for her daughter so if she decides to criticize a man that fits this description than it means that he is really disagreeable. Also Elizabeth comments his behaviour as being” an oddity” and as having “something very pompous in his style”. This is yet again a very good description of him from a very credible character. This is because Elizabeth is throughout the whole novel depicted as being the most intelligent and clever of the Bennet sisters and is therefore a reliable testimony.

The first impressions we get which are an actual description by Jane Austen seemingly follow the assumptions we get about him: he is “heavy looking” and “very formal”. Both these traits are in great concordance with the Pre-analysis we have already made. These adjectives fit perfectly because even though the adjective heavy is not usually associated with looks in this case it makes us imagine Mr Collins as a character full of responsibilities he does not actually have and this “heavy look” shows how he heavy in his way of behaving therefore quite boring and staying with him is a toil rather than a pleasure.
We have two more occasions when Mr Collins first impressions are finally concluded and he has no chance of redemption. Firstly in chapter 14 Mr Bennet, after dinner and after having had the conversation with Mr Collins at the table, thinks back to his conversation. Austen describes his thought as reflecting how ridiculous his cousin was and at how this satisfies all his expectations: "His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped. ". This is yet again a comment made by one of the most reflective characters of the novel and therefore we are more prone to believe, this is even stronger as he is thinking so he is much less likely to be lying.
Lastly and most dramatically chapter 15 starts with the words: "Mr Collins was not a sensible man,". This is very powerful as the first thing we read of this chapter is the apex of disdain for Mr Collins. Overall the impressions we get of Mr Collins are negative and he represents an uninteresting almost pathetic character.

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