Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry…he meant to choose one of the daughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report. This was his plan of amends – of atonement – for inheriting their father’s estate; and he thought it an excellent one, full of eligibility and suitableness, and excessively generous and disinterested on his own part.

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 15. At a time when women’s legal access to property in England was limited, Mr. Collins is due to inherit Longbourn on the death of Mr. Bennet. Now that he has a good income and house, he decides that it is time to marry. Seeing himself as a fountain of generosity and kindness, he decides to choose one of the Bennet daughters to make amends to the family over the loss of their home. Austen is an expert at writing ironic statements and the tone throughout this passage is without doubt ironic, for Collins admires himself for sharing with one of the Bennet girls the wealth that he took from them in the first place. The description of the puffed-up clergyman celebrating his high-mindedness marks Austen out as the supreme satirist. Mr. Collins has no self-awareness of how ridiculous he is.