Marriage With the Least Chance for Happiness
Mr. & Mrs. Collins, Pride and Prejudice
Charlotte walked into her marriage with her eyes wide open. A plain woman, well into her prime at 27, and with no other prospects, she took the only opportunity open to her and married a buffoon of a man. Her decision affected her very close friendship with Lizzy, who could not understand Charlotte's reasoning. But we can. Living under her parents' roof, she had no other options open to her. When Lizzy visits Charlotte in her new home, she sees that she has made a cozy nook for herself and that she has found ways to be private. In Charlotte's own words: “I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home;…I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the married state.”
Mr. & Mrs. Frank Churchill, Emma
Yes, Jane Fairfax fell in love, but at the time she met Frank Churchill she had very few choices in life except to make a living, and the only position open to her was that of governess. Well bred, well educated, and talented, she faced a life of service and isolation. One wonders if she fell as much in love with Frank the man as with his ability to save her from poverty and servitude. Frank, though handsome and suave, played loose and free with the truth. He did not show proper fealty to his father and new wife, the former Miss Taylor, after their wedding, and he toyed with Emma's emotions as he hid the secret of his engagement to Jane. In the process he risked hurting Emma's heart in trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. Thankfully Emma's affections were not engaged. They parted as friends, but upon reflection Emma realized that between Frank Churchill and Mr. Knightley there was no comparison, and that she "had never been more sensible of Mr. Knightley's high superiority of character."