Character Foils in Pride and Prejudice

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Katelin Montgomery

Character Foil Essay: Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet

Present throughout Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is the idea of marriage and contrasting viewpoints on the matter. Elizabeth retains her romantic view of the subject, despite pressure from societal forces. Her good friend, Charlotte Lucas, however chooses security over emotional fulfillment, showing in a sense a societal norm at that point in time. Through Charlotte's friendship with Elizabeth, her dialogue that echoes the views of society regarding wealth and marriage, and her eventual choice to marry Mr. Collins, she serves as a stark contrast to Elizabeth; further emphasizing Elizabeth's own idealized views.

Charlotte is Elizabeth's intimate friend as their families live close to one another. Initially described as "a sensible, intelligent young woman, (12)" Charlotte seems like a comparable match for Elizabeth, but although they share intelligence, Charlotte's sensibility defines her character as decidedly different from Elizabeth's. The friendship links the two in order to point out their differences and their interactions provide a meaningful platform for the pair to honestly express their viewpoints towards men and the prospect of marriage. Their differing views are expressed in their first conversation in the novel where they discuss the events that transpired at the previous night's ball. Charlotte believes that Darcy's overwhelming sense of pride is justifiable where Elizabeth cannot move past it. Charlotte tells Elizabeth, "One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, every thing in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud. (13-14)" Despite their friendship and the fact that Darcy had wounded Elizabeth's own pride, Charlotte is not shy in expressing her own feelings, justifying Darcy's way of life based on his wealth and social standing rather than supporting her friend....
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