P&P is a romantic comedy full of lively characters, sharp wit, verbal banter and comic pauses. The central concern of this “comedy of manners” is Mrs. Bennet’s dogged efforts to find suitable husbands for her eldest daughters. Mrs. Bennet’s judgements cannot be trusted, for she is a nagging wife, an ineffectual mother, and a social misfit throughout the novel. Her repeated and continued foolishness is one of the things that holds the plot together into a unified whole.
Mrs. Bennet is ‘a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.’ Mrs. Bennet fails by all relevant criteria according to the standards of the society. She is inconsiderate, ill-mannered, and vulgar. As a parent, she is partly responsible for the superficial characters of her three younger daughters. She thinks of marriage as a means of social and economic advancement.
She has no feminine charm. On the whole, she is a failure both as a wife and a mother.
Pride and Prejudice is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, their five daughters, and the various romantic adventures at Longbourn. The parents’ characters are greatly contrasted, Mr. Bennet being a wise and witty gentleman while Mrs. Bennet is permanently distracted by the issue of marrying off her daughters at any cost. The reason for Mrs. Bennet’s obsession is that their estate will pass by law after Mr. Bennet’s death to his closest blood relative: his cousin, Collins, a fatuous, tactless and pompous man.
Mrs. Bennet begins her match-making schemes without any trace of dignity. It is the story of the various affections, affectations and engagement shenanigans that develop due to Mrs. Bennet’s relentless match-making and the dashing Darcy’s tempestuous relationship with Elizabeth, the Bennets’ bright, self-assured, and irreverent daughter, who Austen claimed was favourite amongst her literary offspring.
It is claimed that the majority of the comedy in P&P comes from the pushy Mrs. Bennet and the country gentleman character of Mr. Bennet. The parents of the five lovely girls constantly are squabbling, mainly due to Mr. Bennet’s indifference to his wife’s constant nagging.
Mrs. Bennet – wife of Mr. Bennet. Her main concern is the prospective loss of her home to Mr. Collins upon her husband’s death. This has spurred her to take a keen interest in seeing her daughters married well. She angles for her new neighbour, Mr. Bingley, as a match for one of them. She also hopes for a match between one of her girls and Mr. Collins himself.
QUOTES FROM P&P
“Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied; and quitted the house under the delightful persuasion that, allowing for the necessary preparations of settlements, new carriages, and wedding clothes, she should undoubtedly see her daughter settled at Netherfield in the course of three or four months… Elizabeth was the least dear to her of all her children; and though the man and the match were quite good enough for her, the worth of each was eclipsed by Mr. Bingley and Netherfield.”
“Miss Lizzy, if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all — and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead. — I shall not be able to keep you — and so I warn you. You know, that I should never speak to you again, I have no pleasure in talking to undutiful children, — Not that I have much pleasure indeed in talking to any body. People who suffer as I do from nervous complaints can have no great inclination for talking. Nobody can tell what I suffer! —
MRS B’S IDEAS OF P&P
* Darcy at the Meryton assembly: discovered to be Proud; according to Mrs. Bennet, he is “high and conceited” (Pride).
* Mrs. Bennet: Darcy “ate up with Pride”.
* Mrs. Bennet’s Pride in Lydia’s marriage.
* Mrs. Bennet’s idea of Darcy’s Pride.
* Mrs. Bennet’s delighted Pride in the marriage of “her two most deserving daughters”.
GENERAL MRS B
Mrs. Bennet is a complex character. P&P looks at Mrs. Bennet forgivingly. Her behaviour is often provoked by her environment society and her family; Mrs. Bennet’s ludicrous actions can even be seen as lovable.
Mrs. Bennet’s society and family condemn her to a series of conventional roles plays the role of the good-humoured, pretty young woman. Once she and Mr. Bennet take off their courting masks and Mr. Bennet discovers her “weak understanding and illiberal mind, [which] had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her” we could blame Mrs. Bennet for the failures of her marriage. , Mrs. Bennet was looking for affection and financial security;
Mrs. Bennet is not one to hold back her feelings. Mr. Bennet even talks of her nerves” They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least”.
Mrs. Bennet acts under pressure to perform her emotions for the world. Mrs. Bennet’s reaction toward Darcy reflects her society’s general feeling, but, as one of the “most violent” against him, Mrs. Bennet takes to the extreme what her society mandates. “I am sure we owe him no particular civility as to be obliged to say nothing he may not like to hear” Having absorbed society’s assumption that women should express their emotions loudly, and confident in her peers’ support for her dislike of Darcy, Mrs. Bennet speaks on. Austen implicitly criticizes her society not for merely tolerating Mrs. Bennet.
Mr. Bennet not only scorns his wife, he also “exposes her to the contempt of her own children” She tries, in her effusive way, to undo the damage he has done, telling the girls that she does “not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me either for that matter. She moves from referring to just Mr. Bennet, then to him and herself and, finally to “our.” Her absurd behaviour here is a cover: if she cannot gain affection from her husband, she will at least attempt to get the respect of her children.
Mrs. Bennet and Elizabeth; Elizabeth, like her mother, enters marriage with less information than her husband. Mr. Bennet uses his greater information, such as that he gleans from Bingley, to make Mrs. Bennet a butt of his jokes. Mrs. Bennet shares her “uncertain temper, little information and weak understanding with her youngest daughter, Kitty, yet Kitty is able to overcome these weaknesses at the end of the novel, when, she enters a new environment. She was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia, and, removed from the influence of Lydia’s example, she became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant and less insipid”. It is important to note that this passage assigns the blame for poisoning Kitty not to Mrs. Bennet, but to Lydia. We need not detest Mrs. Bennet, because her society and family share the blame for her behaviour.
Her constant quest to marry her daughters well often seems tiresome and overdone. She talks too loudly and she almost forces Elizabeth into a marriage, Mrs. Bennet is desperate. Resorting to all sorts of sneaky manoeuvres, such as forcing Jane to ride to Bingley’s estate, Netherfield, on horseback in the rain, As Mrs. Bennet hopes, riding to Netherfield in the rain does makes Jane very ill so that she must remain for a few days. Mrs. Bennet’s methods may be questionable; she is trying to help Jane toward a marriage that not only she desires, but Jane as well.
The fact that Mrs. Bennet helps Jane towards love and financial security, but settles for only financial security in matching Elizabeth with Mr. Collins may seem selfish. Because Collins will inherit Mr. Bennet’s estate, leaving the Bennet women homeless and poor, Mrs. Bennet wants one of her daughters to marry Collins in order to hold on to the family home. Trying to help all of her daughters, Mrs. Bennet recommends Elizabeth to Collins and is genuinely “startled” when Elizabeth refuses the match. Mrs. Bennet has gained nothing from her marriage but her children and her house and has learned to expect little more. In attempting to hand over her situation to Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet understandably fails to comprehend the ugliness of her own position.
After Lydia elopes, Mrs. Bennet is the only member of the family (except Kitty, perhaps) who is able to love her. In some ways, the older sisters’ view of Lydia’s marriage can be compared to Lady Catherine’s view of Darcy’s potential marriage to Elizabeth. Even though Darcy loves Elizabeth and knows that marrying her would make him happy, Lady Catherine thinks that Elizabeth is beneath Darcy. Mrs. Bennet is the only member of the family capable of looking beyond Lydia’s reputation and rejoicing with her. Mrs. Bennet takes the most optimistic point of view possible and congratulates her daughter, something no one else in the family can do.
Mrs. Bennet’s behaviour is also a necessary for her husband’s comfort. Austen writes that after the marriages of Jane and Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet’s character does not change; it is “lucky for her husband, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so unusual a form, that she still was occasionally nervous and invariably silly” The last section of the novel describes Mrs. Bennet “being quite unable to sit alone”, Mrs. Bennet still lacks the thing she wants most: affection.
Allowing room for Mrs. Bennet’s environment as well as her crucial role in her family, we see that she is hardly detestable-she is actually forgivable. Austen presents Mrs. Bennet in a critical and funny, but understanding way.
Mrs. Bennet claims, “Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied!” in chapter 20 of P&P Mrs. Bennet represents the incompetent parent. a flat character who represent distorted moral values. Mrs. Bennet concerns herself with marrying her daughters off. The Bennets are poor parents. Austen shows Mrs. Bennet’s incompetence by means of humorous characterization and exaggerated satirical dialogue.. Mrs. Bennet reveals her absurd nature when she claims that she is not pitied because she never complains, right after she has complained about all she suffers.
Mrs. Bennet has the notion that her children should be grateful for having them for parents. Because Lizzie will not marry Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet calls her “undutiful.” She is not only wholly dislikeable, but also humorous in their exaggerated characterizations.
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