How does Austen use humour to portray Mr Collins and his proposal?
Austen presents Mr Collins to be the most unwillingly comical character in the whole novel through his extreme idiocy and pomposity. From Austen's description of Mr Collins it is clear that he is self satisfied, proud and serious. “Mingling with a very good opinion of himself, of his authority as a clergyman”. This shows that although Mr Collins isn’t in a extremely high position in society he is proud of who he is and perhaps thinks himself to be more important than what he is in reality. In terms of physical appearance, Mr Collins is shorter than Darcy which could suggest that he has a weaker chance of marrying Elizabeth, as Darcy is more powerful and serious. Mr Collins isn’t presented as a purposely comical character, but rather the opposite, he is always serious in every situation and is often blinded by his own ego to see that people often mock him.
Mr Collin's proposal to Elizabeth is one of the most humorous points in the novel, which reflects his personality due to the fact that Austen presents it in a ironically humorous way. The first instance of irony is that Collins mistakes Elizabeth's unwillingness to be left in the room alone with himself as 'modesty' and shyness when in actual fact she just finds the whole situation uncomfortable. Another example of irony is when Mr Collins assumes that all young 'modest' girls refuse a proposal from men that they intend to accept, “I know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application”, and so takes Elizabeth's refusal speech as encouragement and continues to persuade her with his literate proposal. This highlights how clueless and arrogant Mr Collins is as he has the audacity to continue with his proposal ignoring all sense of ridiculousness, and in a way patronises Elizabeth as he suggests that he knows how all young ladies act, and doesn’t take her response seriously which reinforces how unromantic...
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