Although Charlotte Lucas is a secondary character in Austen's Pride and Prejudice, she is important because of the contrast she poses to Elizabeth concerning love and marriage. She is a flat character because she maintains the same views on men, love, and marriage throughout the novel. However, these views and Charlotte's way of realising them is interesting.
Her outer characterisation tells us that she is Lizzy's best friend, the eldest daughter of Sir. Williams Lucas, aged 27 (p. 11), which was quite old for an unmarried woman of the time. The narrator introduces her as a “sensible, intelligent young woman, about twenty-seven” (p. 11). The narrator also suggests that she is neither handsome nor rich, and she might end up unmarried (p. 87), making her a burden to her family.
In terms of inner characterisation, Charlotte is practical and logical, especially when it comes to marriage. Because she wants to get married, she takes advantage of the fact that Mr Collins is rejected by Elizabeth and pursues him. But she does not do it out of love: she “accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment” (p. 87).
In this way, Charlotte becomes a counterpoint character, having a completely different attitude to marriage compared with her friend Elizabeth. Charlotte’s ideas about love and marriage are revealed early on in the novel, when she talks with Elizabeth about Jane and Bingley. Charlotte believes a woman should express her feelings for a man (and even exaggerat...