Becoming Charlotte Lucas

Becoming Charlotte Lucas

Charlotte in P&P 2005

I want to be more like Charlotte Lucas.

This isn’t just clickbait. I’m serious. Charlotte Lucas may not be handsome or romantic. That doesn’t matter to me. It also doesn’t matter that she married Mr. Collins. (Gasp!) What I admire most about Charlotte is that she’s happy despite her circumstances.

Charlotte is truly a glass-half-full type of person. Though she seems to always come in second in love—Bingley prefers Jane to her at their first ball and Mr. Collins famously proposes to Elizabeth a few hours before he proposes to her—she doesn’t let it bother her. She focuses on Mr. Collins’ good points: “his character, connections, and situations.” She says, “I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

She marries Mr. Collins without any sense of embarrassment or shame, thinking only of her good fortune. Then, after she has gotten settled into her new home, she has no qualms about inviting Elizabeth to visit her. It’s clear that Elizabeth hesitates to accept the invitation, expecting some awkward feelings among the three of them. However, Charlotte  is “depending on the plan”, so Elizabeth happily travels to Charlotte’s new home.

Charlotte and Mr. Collins in P&P 1995

When Elizabeth arrives, she finds a cheerful Charlotte, who has fitted up the house with neatness. During these chapters, the reader notices a few hints about how Charlotte preserves her happy and cheerful state. For example, whenever Mr. Collins says something that might embarrass her, Charlotte doesn’t seem to hear it. Charlotte also encourages her husband to spend as much time as he wants in the garden, which means he spends less time with her in the house. As an extra measure of preserving her happiness, Charlotte spends most of her time in a backward room that’s a bit too small, so her husband won’t want to spend as much time with her. Nowadays, we recognize that Charlotte has set important boundaries for herself, and those boundaries help her maintain her good attitude.

Charlotte doesn’t complain. Rather, she looks for the positive. When she speaks of Lady Catherine, for example, she calls her an attentive neighbor and seems to enjoy going to dinner at Lady Catherine’s estate. A less grateful person could be completely justified in calling Lady Catherine a busybody. I suppose Charlotte treats Lady Catherine just as she does Mr. Collins, ignoring any hurtful comments and setting subtle boundaries for their interactions.

Unlike Charlotte, I get irritated by things other people say, and sometimes mull over these things when I should be concentrating on better things. Other times, I fail to set boundaries for myself that will help me maintain a positive mental state. So, although Charlotte might not have made the most interesting heroine for a romance novel, she does provide a useful model for how to enjoy life: focus on the positive, ignore the negative, and find a little place away from the things that irritate you.

What do you think? Do you admire Charlotte Lucas for her good attitude, or do you think she’s made a horrible mistake and will someday regret her decision?

10 Responses to Becoming Charlotte Lucas

  1. Whether she would ever regret her decisions, we’ll never know. However, she did accomplish exactly what she set out to do. I would classify her as a determined woman and just a little bit sly as in wise in practical affairs and a bit ingenious though not in a harmful way.

  2. I’ve always been intrigued by Charlotte Lucas and felt she had much more depth than she was given credit for. She was quite strategic in the way she redirected Mr. Collins’ interest from Elizabeth to herself, and yet managed to keep (if not strengthen) her friendship with Elizabeth. I agree with you that she’s an expert at making lemonade from all the lemons life handed her. 🙂

  3. I admire her. I think she found ways to be happy, like putting her husband in the garden for a while!lol She seems to have found her way.

  4. Great thoughts about Charlotte. I initially admire her practical sense and her independent mind-set (living away from her old home and have a home to care for by her). But these made me pause and look at her other qulities. Would like to follow some of her example… looking at the positive and ignoring those offensive or negative. Being smart. she has a way of describing someone without giving offense.

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