Pride and Prejudice: A Play
by Pamela Whalan
Enjoy an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice: A Play, by Pamela Whalan, who has adaptated Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice for the stage. Sometimes acting out a section of the novel can help you understand the text.
If you would like to read the full Pride and Prejudice play adaptation, you can obtain copies of the play from the Jane Austen Society of Australia, through their Regency Fair shop. Performance rights for the play can be obtained through David Spicer productions.
ACT 1 Scene 3
The morning room at Longbourn the following Saturday. Lizzy and Charlotte enter.
LIZZY: Charlotte, I am so pleased to see you! I want to thank you for your kindness in keeping Mr Collins out of my way for the last few days. He left early this morning to return to his parish so now I only have to endure Mama’s displeasure without the added burden of his offended dignity. What a brilliant idea to get him to walk home with you after his dreadful marriage proposal! And your heroic decision to invite him to dinner the next day was truly admirable. Your entertaining such a frightfully boring man so that I might have some peace was truly an act of friendship!
CHARLOTTE: I am glad that you think I have been useful, Lizzy, but I cannot be absolved from self-interest.
LIZZY: What can you mean?
CHARLOTTE: What I have to tell you may displease you. It will certainly surprise you. Elizabeth, I am engaged to be married to Mr Collins.
LIZZY: Engaged to Mr Collins! My dear Charlotte, – impossible!
CHARLOTTE: Why should you be surprised, my dear Lizzy? Do you think it incredible that Mr Collins should be able to procure any woman’s good opinion, because he was not so happy as to succeed with you?
LIZZY: Charlotte, I wish you every happiness, of course. It was just that it came as such a surprise to me. I had not thought of such a thing – but I truly wish you happy, if you are sure that you will suit.
CHARLOTTE: I see what you are feeling. You must be surprised – very much surprised, – so lately as Mr Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have had time to think it over, I hope that you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.
CHARLOTTE: Our opinion of matrimony has never been alike. You, I know, believe that marriage without esteem and love is impossible but I have always seen matrimony as the only honourable provision for a well-educated woman of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness it must be my pleasantest preservative from want.
LIZZY: I know that neither of us can ignore the fact that we have very small marriage portions to attract a prospective husband, but Charlotte, can you be happy with a man such as Mr Collins?
CHARLOTTE: Remember, my dear, I am twenty seven, I have never been considered handsome, I have very little money and I am the eldest of a large family. If I marry, my brothers will be relieved of the duty of having to provide for me and I will not be forced to live as the poor relation in the household of one of them, my happiness always subject to the whim and humour of a sister-in-law. I would wish to be mistress of my own household and to have a family. Mr Collins is not clever, he is not witty or charming, but he is free of vices such as gambling or drinking. He is rector of a good parish. I can look forward to a life of domestic comfort and that is all I ask.
LIZZY: Oh Charlotte, I would not be honest if I did not say that I had misgivings, but I truly hope for your happiness and if any woman can make such a marriage successful I know that with your good sense and amiable temper it will be you. God bless you, my dear.
CHARLOTTE: Thank you, Lizzy. Your blessing is most important to me. I have one more request to make of you.
LIZZY: I will grant it if it is possible.
CHARLOTTE: We are to be married quite soon and I will be established in the rectory at Hunsford early in the new year. Promise me that you will come to visit.
LIZZY: Of course, I will, dear Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE: My mother intends calling to see your mother this morning and you can imagine what her main topic of conversation will be. I would rather not be present, so I will bid you good day. I came early so that I could tell you the news myself in private.
LIZZY: Thank you for coming, Charlotte. And I do wish you happy – indeed I do.
EIL Editor’s Note: Since this author, Pamela Whalan, is from Australia, you may notice that she follows British usage in punctuation and other formatting. In your own writing, please follow the formatting standards requested by your teachers.
Pamela Whalan has also written an explanation of the social background of Pride and Prejudice—this will help you to understand Jane Austen’s world. In addition, you might enjoy reading a little of her play for Emma.
Since 1962, Pamela Whalan has been an active member of the Genesian Theatre in Sydney, Australia, including working as the Theatre Director for six years. She has also been a member of JASA (Jane Austen Society of Australia) for twenty years. Combining her love of the works of Austen and her love of theatre, she has adapted five of Austen’s novels for the stage. These adaptations have been published and produced successfully in Australia and the United States. In addition, on a number of occasions Pamela has presented papers on the works of Austen at conferences in Australia, Canada, and the U.S.A.
In 2002, Pamela returned to her hometown of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Shortly afterwards, she was invited to become a judge for CONDA (City of Newcastle Drama Awards) and performed this civic duty for the next twelve years.
Pamela holds an M.A. from the University of Sydney and an MLitt from the University of New England (Australia). She has done extensive post-graduate study in the field of 20th century Irish Drama, and she taught English for many years at the University of Technology in Sydney.
When will you read Jane Austen’s work in Excellence in Literature?
E4.6 Focus text: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
E4.6 Honors text: Persuasion or other novel by Jane Austen