In Victorian times, social classes were considered a very important aspect of society. A young woman would consider a man’s social status, as well as his wealth, before accepting a Marriage proposal of any kind. In Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet is approached by two men for her hand in marriage. Both men propose to her in very different manners, and although the men share some of the same behaviors in their style, they hold a stark difference in the motives and motivations for proposal.
Mr. Collins is the first to ask for Elizabeth’s hand, and while he believes himself to be very intelligent and desirable, he is in fact an odious ne’er-do-ell. Mr. Collins’ approach resembles a business proposal. He lists off the reasons that Elizabeth should marry him, such as their marriage will heighten her social status, and that he is in want of a wife (as a clergyman it is his responsibility to provide an example of holy matrimony). Only considering his own happiness, he rudely assumes that Elizabeth will of course be “overjoyed” at his “generous” offer; his arrogant style insults her and she promptly turns him down. Mr. Darcy on the other hand, is deeply in love with Elizabeth and eloquently proposes by romantically pouring out his heart to her. Yet, Mr. Darcy also manages to offend Elizabeth by commenting on her social inferiority and her badly mannered family, which only further develops Elizabeth’s prejudice against him. Following Elizabeth’s rejection, Darcy, as well as the ostentatious Mr. Collins, is genuinely shocked at her refusal, but for vastly different reasons. While Mr. Collins insulted Elizabeth in reaction to her refusal, Mr. Darcy only asks the reason why. He, unlike Collins, responds in a respectful well-mannered way.
Although both Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy were similar in some parts of their