P&P day 17, episode 5: The essence of the characters

Austen Advent Calendar

One of my favourite scenes in the whole series is the scene where Mr. Collins comes to condole with the Bennets. In the book, he writes a letter, but it’s a brilliant choice to have him visit and let everybody play out their characters to full effect!

Kitty‘s reaction is fantastic – “I’m not going to sit with him for anyone!” – and runs away to hide. Then you can see her through the window, spying how much longer she has to keep away, and finally comes forward with asking if he’s gone and it’s safe to come out.

Mary‘s reaction is that Mr. Collins makes sense, since she herself has thought about which moral lessons there are to be learned from Lydia’s disgrace, and still believes that since Mr. Collins is a clergyman, he has studied much and has all the right reasons for expressing sympathy.

Jane‘s reaction is to try to make everybody come out of this meeting alive, and would Mary please not encourage Mr. Collins to continue talking, so Jane can direct her energy to prevent Lizzie from reacting too vividly to the things Mr. Collins says (that she too reacts to, but decides that it’s more important to prevent Lizzie from attacking Collins when he basically wishes Lydia’s death…) Poor Jane, having been the only sensible person in this whole affair, she reminds me of Elinor Dashwood here!

Lizzie‘s reaction is pure anger, so if this was another kind of adaptation (no one named, no one forgotten), heads would fly… In this more peaceful adaptation, she does a great job of telling Collins off when she gets her chance, knowing full well that Mr. Collins doesn’t understand irony or sarcasm.

Mr. Collins is Mr. Collins squared in this scene. And he’s probably done a lot of damage from talking to Lady Catherine about the whole thing too. He just wants to rub it in that he’s not tainted by this scandal, and boast of his good luck and relief that Lizzie turned him down. At least in Lizzie’s interpretation. Jane supposes he means well in true Jane-fashion, and Mary thinks he’s very kind to condole with the Bennets. And Kitty (as well as her sisters, save perhaps Mary) is relieved when he leaves.

All in all: This scene is gold!


This Austen Advent Calendar project is a join in of an original idea by Drunk Austen and if you haven’t checked them out yet, you should do it now!

I’ve updated the image of this post since I saw that the original image I used was free for download, but not to put on another website. I’ve chosen to exchange the image to the current one, a painting by Francois Courboin which is in the public domain. I try to use other people’s images as correctly as possible, and will change it if I realise I’ve made a mistake!

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