“I’m twenty-seven years old, I’ve no money and no prospects. I’m already a burden to my parents and I’m frightened”
Remember this scene in Pride and Prejudice? Back in the Regency era, yes it was common for women to be married fairly young to keep house and raise a large family. However, the closer I get to the age of 27 (like Charlotte), the more I wonder if this is the new norm. When I was little, I imagined getting engaged my junior year of college and getting married a year after graduation – having our first child before I hit 30. Whelp, clearly that has not happened, and I am glad in a way. Seeing how much I have changed in the past few years from college to a couple years out of graduate school, I don’t think I would have been mature enough if I followed my original plan. Additionally, I have had some amazing experiences that I am not sure would’ve happened or may have looked differently if I had a family. Talking with my mom the other day, she felt envious of me and my siblings (not in a bad way) and how we have taken our time and traveled and pursued post-graduate experiences where she was married at a young age. I don’t know (or believe) that Charlotte intended to wait to find a suitable partner, but I can only imagine that after waiting, she can bring different characteristics and energy to her marriage with Mr. Collins than if she were younger.
On a different angle, Charlotte is the best-friend character to Lizzy Bennet. This relationship reminds of Iris in The Holiday when she’s explaining her love life.
Arthur: Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.
Iris: You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god’s sake!
Some may think that Charlotte is settling, and I think that she is doing what she needs for her (and her parents’) peace of mind – I don’t consider it selfish. She has, in some way, gained her independence and created her own story – she is proud. More often than not, I feel that as we get older, we start thinking of life a little differently. I question the comical deals I made with a few of my close guy friends that if neither of us were married by a certain age, we’d marry each other. What does that say?