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Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

April 05, 2015 03:04PM
Jean M. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> OK, so I think we all agree that Mr. Bennet is
> doing a poor job as husband, father, master of the
> estate, etc. at the time that the novel is set.

Jean, I am not sure that we all agree he is doing a poor job.

I think he was doing a poor job, I believe Austen intended us to see it that way. We can always debate whether an author makes a good case for her characterizations, premises and plots. I think Austen does. She offers up details that paint Mr. Bennet as smart, sarcastic and removed from his family. One can either assume he is removed because his family is unworthy or because he is failing in his role as the leader and patriarch of the family. The book provides examples of other fathers who do a better job of providing and who are nicer to the people in their lives.

> To me, the question is this: has he always been this
> way (=fundamental character flaws) or has marriage
> to Mrs. Bennet ground down his will to act? Are
> Jane and Elizabeth more ladylike and accomplished
> relative to Lydia and Kitty because Mr. Bennet
> played a more active role in their early
> upbringing, or does their behavior in the novel
> reflect their intrinsic characters (something that
> would not have been altered regardless of their
> father's involvement in their upbringing)?
> -Jean

Austen tells us that Mr. Bennet chose his wife when she was young and seemed lively and good-humored. Closer association with her showed she was not a bright or thoughtful person, and the two had little to talk about. Unlike the example of Sir Thomas Bertram, who similarly found his pretty young wife did not grow better with age, Mr. Bennet chooses to ignore his wife and to make sport of her so-called nerves. Making fun of her is the one pleasure she can provide, apparently, after they have given up trying to have a son.

Now, did Mr. Bennet play a more active role in the early lives of Jane and Elizabeth? I think fanfiction could be written in either direction on that question, but I would fall on the side of the negative. It has been my experience that children have natures that will show themselves no matter the environment. I see it among children as young as three in pre-school but certainly by kindergarten: some children are quiet and thoughtful, others are outgoing and talkative. Some kids listen more easily than others. Guidance by adults can help any child learn rules, discipline and moral values. Some kids need more reminders than others.

It is never a direct equation that a child will turn out exactly as a parent made him or her, but parents can have huge influences. I daresay, some parents can mold their children into killers while some children will reject bad influences and grow up much better than parental influence should have indicated.

In the case of Mr. Bennet, we know he mostly ignored his kids unless he found them amusing. Lizzy according to him had something more of wit about her than did most girls. His satirical eye had always seen Charlotte Lucas and he was pleasantly diverted to find, in her marriage to William Collins, that she was not. In his sardonic observations, Mr. Bennet makes us laugh ("Kitty times her coughs ill." and "While Mary is adjusing her ideas...")

We can just laugh and not think about it too closely. Austen is such a good writer she provides that option. Read this deeply and it is comedy. Beneath comedy often lies pain and harsher truths. We laugh in surprise at the pinprick and may laugh even more deeply when the pin becomes a knife, when light wit becomes dark and sardonic. If we look at Mr. Bennet closely, we can but shudder at his coldness and insensitivity. A girl's first love should be her father; he is the man who tells her she lovable. In the case of the Bennet girls, their father was their first torturer, and they were too young to know or expect that a man should talk to them better. It's no surprise that the intelligent Jane and Elizabeth were wary of marriage, while the younger and seemingly less intelligent Lydia and Kitty had unrealistic romantic fantasies (Lydia is drawn into a rogue who feeds her pretty lies and Kitty is her accomplice because she listens eagerly to Lydia's tales of adventures in love.)
SubjectAuthorPosted

Hunsford.

Jim G.MMarch 19, 2015 07:14PM

Re: Hunsford.

AmytatApril 11, 2015 07:03PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jim G.MApril 11, 2015 09:26PM

Re: Hunsford.

Amy A-NWMarch 26, 2015 07:13PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jim G.MMarch 26, 2015 09:16PM

Re: Hunsford.

PearlMarch 20, 2015 06:40PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jim G.MMarch 21, 2015 12:05PM

Re: Hunsford.

Harvey S.March 21, 2015 10:20PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jim G.MMarch 21, 2015 10:37PM

Re: Hunsford.

AlidaMarch 22, 2015 12:31AM

Re: Hunsford.

AdelaideMarch 22, 2015 01:40AM

Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

Agnes BeatrixMarch 26, 2015 06:25PM

Re: Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

Jim G.MMarch 26, 2015 09:11PM

Re: Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

AmytatApril 12, 2015 04:26PM

Re: Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

Jim G.MApril 13, 2015 10:40AM

Mocking

AmytatApril 14, 2015 03:03AM

Re: Mocking

Jim G.MApril 14, 2015 11:29AM

Re: Mocking

AmytatApril 16, 2015 12:03PM

Re: Mocking

Jim G.MApril 16, 2015 12:57PM

Re: Mocking

AmytatApril 16, 2015 11:53PM

Appearances

Debra McApril 14, 2015 06:16PM

Re: Mocking

Mari A.April 14, 2015 01:57PM

Re: Mocking

Jim G.MApril 15, 2015 11:00AM

Amytat, I agree with you

AdelaideApril 14, 2015 11:09AM

Re: Amytat, I agree with you

AmytatApril 14, 2015 08:40PM

Re: Amytat, I agree with you

Jim G.MApril 14, 2015 01:00PM

Error? Did things get a little muddled here?

AmytatApril 14, 2015 08:37PM

Mr. Collins and Charlotte

AdelaideApril 14, 2015 01:17AM

Re: Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

Agnes BeatrixApril 03, 2015 08:55PM

Re: Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

Jim G.MApril 03, 2015 11:20PM

Re: Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins

AdelaideMarch 26, 2015 09:09PM

Mr Bennet

Harvey S.March 23, 2015 05:44AM

Re: Mr Bennet

AdelaideMarch 23, 2015 11:04AM

Re: Mr Bennet

Jean M.March 23, 2015 08:20PM

I could not agree more

Harvey S.March 28, 2015 08:44PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MMarch 29, 2015 12:18AM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Mari A.April 01, 2015 08:16AM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MApril 01, 2015 01:31PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Mari A.April 02, 2015 09:20AM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jean M.April 01, 2015 06:28PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

AmytatApril 12, 2015 04:53PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

KarenteaApril 01, 2015 10:34PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

AdelaideApril 01, 2015 10:59PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Harvey S.April 02, 2015 03:02AM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MApril 02, 2015 10:54AM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Harvey S.April 05, 2015 06:26AM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MApril 05, 2015 12:12PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Harvey S.April 07, 2015 05:26PM

Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Jean M.April 05, 2015 02:05PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Harvey S.April 07, 2015 05:27PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Jim G.MApril 05, 2015 04:08PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Harvey S.April 07, 2015 05:05PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Agnes BeatrixApril 06, 2015 08:04PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

AmytatApril 12, 2015 10:19PM

A point for Mr Bennet.

Jim G.MApril 06, 2015 11:49PM

Re: A point for Mr Bennet.

Harvey S.April 07, 2015 05:31PM

Re: A point for Mr Bennet.

Jim G.MApril 07, 2015 07:50PM

Re: A point for Mr Bennet.

Harvey S.April 09, 2015 04:49PM

Well actually...

Suzanne OApril 08, 2015 07:03PM

Re: Well actually...

Jim G.MApril 08, 2015 08:41PM

Re: Well actually...

AmytatApril 09, 2015 06:26PM

Re: Well actually...

Suzanne OApril 08, 2015 11:04PM

Re: Well actually...

Jim G.MApril 08, 2015 11:46PM

Re: Well actually...

Suzanne OApril 09, 2015 01:34AM

Thank you Suzanne

Debra McApril 08, 2015 11:42PM

Re: Thank you Suzanne

Harvey S.April 09, 2015 04:56PM

Re: Thank you Suzanne

Jim G.MApril 09, 2015 10:37AM

Re: Thank you Suzanne

Harvey S.April 09, 2015 05:02PM

Re: A point for Mr Bennet.

AdelaideApril 07, 2015 11:59AM

Re: A point for Mr Bennet.

Jim G.MApril 07, 2015 02:04PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Jim G.MApril 06, 2015 09:26PM

A minority opinion

RedsonApril 06, 2015 11:45PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

AdelaideApril 05, 2015 03:04PM

Re: Has Mr. Bennet's character changed?

Harvey S.April 07, 2015 05:46PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Agnes BeatrixApril 03, 2015 08:35PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MApril 03, 2015 11:08PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Agnes BeatrixApril 04, 2015 09:29PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MApril 04, 2015 10:38PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

JanetRApril 04, 2015 07:23PM

Re: I could not agree more. ?

Jim G.MApril 04, 2015 07:35PM

I'm not sure what you mean

GracielaApril 06, 2015 05:41AM

Re: I'm not sure what you mean

Jim G.MApril 06, 2015 11:12AM

Re: Mr Bennet

Suzanne OMarch 26, 2015 03:15AM

Great comments, Jean M, IMO

AdelaideMarch 23, 2015 09:34PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jim G.MMarch 22, 2015 11:52AM

Re: Hunsford.

AdelaideMarch 22, 2015 01:02PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jim G.MMarch 22, 2015 04:05PM

Re: Hunsford.

AlidaMarch 22, 2015 10:28AM

Re: Hunsford.

AdelaideMarch 22, 2015 12:52PM

Re: Hunsford.

AlidaMarch 23, 2015 05:11AM

Re: Hunsford.

AdelaideMarch 23, 2015 11:21AM

Re: Hunsford.

AlidaMarch 23, 2015 08:19PM

Re: Hunsford.

Jean M.March 23, 2015 08:32PM

Re: Hunsford.

mpinneyMarch 20, 2015 12:10PM

I definitely think so! nfm

KarenteaMarch 19, 2015 08:07PM



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