Charlotte Collins (née Lucas) is a major character in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She is the eldest daughter of Sir William and Lady Lucas, and has quite a few siblings, including Maria Lucas. She is the wife of William Collins, and a good friend of Elizabeth Bennet, and the entire Bennet family. She is 27 years old at the beginning of the novel, and was headed toward spinsterhood before marrying Mr. Collins.
Charlotte was raised in Hertfordshire as the eldest of many siblings in Lucas Lodge. Her parents were not particularly wealthy, so when she didn't marry she became a burden. She became an extremely good friend of Elizabeth Bennet, and also got along well with Jane Bennet.
When Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy arrived in Meryton, and Mr. Bingley showed an interest in Jane, Charlotte conveyed to Elizabeth that Jane should show more of an interest in him in order to gain his hand in marriage. Elizabeth dismissed it, believing that Jane was showing all the interest she could. Charlotte also noticed that Mr. Darcy was paying attention to Elizabeth, even though Lizzy had sworn to hate him. At the Netherfield ball, Elizabeth was shocked when Mr. Darcy asked her for a dance, and she agreed out of surprise. Charlotte, who saw the whole exchange, told Lizzy that Mr. Darcy was complimenting her by asking her to dance. She advised her not to turn him down because she was attracted to George Wickham, saying that Mr. Darcy was a man more powerful than Mr. Wickham. Charlotte also meets William Collins, Lizzy's cousin who was the heir of the Bennet estate, during the ball, distracting him when he tries to engage Elizabeth in conversation, as she sees Elizabeth is pained by his presence.
When Elizabeth refused Mr. Collins' offer of marriage, Charlotte gave a sympathetic ear for him to talk to. She was able to steer his attention towards herself, and he eventually proposed to Charlotte, which she accepted. Her parents were overjoyed, and Lady Lucas started wondering when Mr. Bennet would die so her daughter could take over Longbourn. Charlotte asked to be the one who told Lizzy of her engagement, which Mr. Collins agreed. Elizabeth was shocked by Charlotte's announcement, but she wished her well, hoping that her friend would be happy. She left Lizzy, and their friendship seemed slightly strained afterwards.
Elizabeth and Charlotte eventually repaired their friendship by the time she married Mr. Collins. Charlotte asked Lizzy to write to her, and visit the following March in the company of Sir Lucas and Maria. Lizzy reluctantly agreed, but was happy to see Charlotte again when the time came. The Collinses moved to Hunsford Parsonage in Kent, where Mr. Collins worked in the parish. They were close to Rosings Park, the home of Mr. Collins's patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Charlotte showed Lizzy around Hunsford, showing that she has set up her lifestyle to not see Mr. Collins as much as possible. Maria, Elizabeth, and Sir Lucas were invited to dine with Mr. and Mrs. Collins at Rosings, where they met Lady Catherine and her daughter, Anne. When Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine's nephew, visited Rosings and came to the Hunsford parsonage, Charlotte immediately deduced that it was because Elizabeth was there, and she realized that Mr. Darcy was falling in love with her friend. Though Elizabeth denied this, Charlotte still had her suspicions.
After Elizabeth left the Hunsford parsonage, Charlotte is not mentioned again till the end, when Mr. Bennet receives a letter from Mr. Collins, congratulating him on Jane and Mr. Bingley's engagement, and announcing that the Collinses are expecting their first child. Mr. Bennet later wrote back to Mr. Collins, announcing that Elizabeth was engaged to Mr. Darcy, which delighted Charlotte. Soon after, she and Mr. Collins quit Kent, and came to stay with her family at Lucas Lodge. Elizabeth later figured out that they were trying to escape the wrath of Lady Catherine, who was incensed by Mr. Darcy marrying Elizabeth. Mr. and Mrs. Collins decided to stay in Meryton until the "storm had passed," which eventually happened.
Charlotte has never been handsome, and is described as being sensible and intelligent. She does not consider herself a romantic, marrying a man whom she does not love or respect because she does not wish to become an old maid, and because he is the first man to show an interest in marrying her. After her marriage, she makes the best of things, arranging her household to avoid spending much time with her husband, and pretending not to hear his more cringe-worthy comments.
- Charlotte - by close friends and family, including her husband
- Miss Lucas - before her marriage, everyone else as she was her parents' eldest child.
- Mrs. Collins - after her marriage.