In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Charlotte Lucas is portrayed as a character that is quite contrary from the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet. Although she is almost as significant to certain themes as Elizabeth, Charlotte depicts a role that gives the reader an alternative perspective to the novel. Pride and Prejudice takes place in Long bourn, in rural England, during the Napoleonic Wars (1797-1815). The themes that are encompassed throughout the story are love, reputation and class, and the development of characters heavily relies on these three central themes. Charlotte's views on these relative themes, especially love, is what makes her so vital to the story, whereas Elizabeth has a contrasting point of view and is not willing to give in to the surrounding pressures from her mother and society. Hers is the pursuit of happiness, which contrasts heavily with Charlotte's pursuit of mere comfort. Charlotte Lucas is imperative to the novel as she contrasts so heavily from the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, by providing a viewpoint on the common social institutions of Austen's time.
Throughout Pride and Prejudice, love is constantly being examined and challenged by the characters of the book. Just as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are an epic example of the pressures that the female characters are continuously experiencing, Charlotte Lucas is an important part of the novel's characterization for her philosophy of love. Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins instills a grim note into the romantic happiness that Elizabeth later finds, for her marriage is based "solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment" (83). Whereas Elizabeth will not marry solely for money to a mindless man such as Mr. Collins or a man which she does not like, such as Mr. Darcy (at the beginning of the novel), Charlotte, who is six years older than her friend and lacking a fortune, is a pragmatist and she must capitalize on any opportunity that presents itself in order to avoid the societal disdain that accompanies growing old without a husband.