Literary Analysis Essay on Pride and Prejudice: Does Mr. and Mrs. Bennet Good Parents?

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1542 Words
Date:  2022-04-19
Categories: 

Introduction

I do not consider Mr or Mrs. Bennet to be good parents. Jane Austen does not present them in a favorable light and I think anyone who reads this novel would get the impression that they are not good parents.

A responsibility of fathers in society in Austen's day was to provide financially for their children so they have secure futures. However, Mr. Bennet does not do this. He pays little thought to the girl's future and seems to be a man who does not consider anything seriously. We know this because Austen tells us after Lydia had run away and Mr. Bennet believes himself in the debt of Mr. Gardiner, that Mr. Bennet had often wished that he had saved an annual sum for the better provision of his children, and of his wife and that now he wished it more than ever. This shows us he is unthoughtful and makes foolish decisions, which later on he regrets.

Mr. Bennet does not take anything seriously or talk to Mrs. Bennet with respect or seriousness. This means the girls do not grow up in a very happy or secure home. The parent's marriage has not gone well and Mr. Bennet only married Mrs. Bennet on account of her youth and good humor. We learn of his lack of respect for her as he tells her, after hearing her complain about her nerves, that he respects her nerves and says, They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.

He enjoys teasing his wife and pretends that he hasn't visited Bingley just to see the shock on his wife's face when he tells them. He is very cruel to Mrs. Bennet, as she does not understand his sarcastic wit. This lack of understanding is reflected in Lydia, who has grown up to believe that jokes, even cruel ones, are the way to behave, thanks to her father's behavior and influence. In her letter telling of her elopement as she wrote to Mrs. Forster, she says that she will laugh and what a good joke it will be.

A mother in Austen's day should be responsible for helping her daughters find husbands. This seems to be Mrs. Bennet's strong point but she seems to let this objective take over. Rather than considering their present state, she is always thinking about the future and is prepared to embarrass her girls to give them a chance to marry well. For example, on page 27, Mrs. Bennet makes Jane ride on a horse in the hope that it might rain so she would become ill and stay all night in Bingley's house. Austen writes that Mrs. Bennet was delighted when a downpour started. This shows inconsideration, little motherly love, and that Mrs. Bennet is obsessed with Bingley marrying Jane. Jane could have been taken seriously ill. This does not show that Mrs. Bennet is a good parent.

Another responsibility of the mother was to bring up her children in a well-bred manner. I will explain in the following paragraphs how Mrs. Bennet does not do this.

Mrs. Bennet is an attention seeker. This is shown in her continual frustrated complaints about her poor nerves. After Lydia has run away she tells anybody who will listen that she is frightened out of my wit¦such spasms in my side, and pains in my head, and beatings at heart that I can get no rest¦ She also predicts her future in such a sorrowful way as to gain the attention she says to the Gardiners that Mr. Bennet will die in a fight with Wickham and the Collinses will turn her out of her home. She feels sorry for herself and states I was over-ruled, as I always am. This is resulting from the lack of respect Mr. Bennet shows her.

We can see this reflected in Mary at the Netherfield ball, where she gets up to sing and play the piano. She is seeking attention and is proud of her accomplishments, although Austen tells us her voice is weak.

At the Netherfield ball, Mrs. Bennet embarrasses Lizzy by talking loudly near Darcy about Jane and Bingley and the Lucases. When entreated by Lizzy to quieten down, she replies, I am sure we owe him (Darcy) no such particular civility as to be obliged to say nothing that he may not like to hear. In Austen's day, this behavior would have been unacceptable and looked on with contempt as Mrs. Bennet shows ill-breeding. This encourages the girls to be gossip, tactless and rude. Mrs. Bennet does nothing throughout the novel to teach and instruct her five girls on how to behave in society, that is, apart from how to find husbands.

Mrs. Bennet has violent mood swings. When she first heard of Lydia's elopement she was in hysterics and complained of tremblings spasms in her side and pains in my head and said Mr. Bennet would be killed and they would be turned out of their home. When she heard that Lydia and Wickham were to be married, she immediately forgot her pains and sorrows and told everyone she knew how it would be.

Mrs. Bennet also does not show gratitude a bad influence on her daughters. When Mr. Gardiner pays Wickham to marry Lydia, she says that who else should do it but her uncle. This quality is reflected in Lydia, who is never grateful for anything.

We can also look at the way the parent treat their daughters directly, as well as subtly influencing them. Both parents show favoritism. Mr. Bennet to Lizzy because of her sense and wit, Mrs. Bennet to Lydia for being like herself, and also to Jane for her beauty. Mr. Bennet also insults his children, instead of gently putting them on the right path. He tells them they are silly, especially Lydia and Kitty you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. Mr. Bennet does not seem to try all at being a good father. He ignores all his children but Lizzy. Mrs. Bennet does not seem to have time for her daughters except Lydia and Jane.

We can also look at Mr. Bennet's reaction to Lydia running off with Wickham. He blames himself for he let Lydia go to Brighton although Lizzy warned him against it. Even in his guilt, Mr. Bennet is sarcastic by telling Lizzy to allow him to feel guilty for once and then saying, I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough. Then he tells Kitty that she cannot go out of the house until she has proved herself to be sensible and Kitty bursts into tears at this.

Previously, I have looked at what the Bennet parents are like to see how good parents they are, but if we look at the Bennet sisters, we can see how they have been brought up, and the parent's qualities will reflect in the daughters.

Lydia is a flirt, has no self-awareness, and is very immature. We see this in the way she pleads to go to Brighton so she can mix with the officers there. When she is invited, Austen tells us in her imagination, Lydia sees herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers all at once. Mrs. Bennet encourages Lydia by telling her of her childhood flirtations I cried for two days when Colonel Millar's regiment went away. I thought I should have broken my heart! In Austen's day flirting would have been looked upon as unacceptable behavior. And Lydia is fifteen, which is much too young to go to Brighton with the officers and this is proven by her immature elopement.

Kitty has a very weak character resulting from a lack of teaching and discipline from the Bennet parents. We see this in the way she constantly follows and copies Lydia. She backs her up when arguing about going to Brighton, and only when she is completely separated from Lydia does she improve. Austen tells us that removed from the influence of Lydia's example, she became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid.

Only two out of the five girls are a credit to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet Jane and Lizzy. Jane is very caring and always sees the best in people. Even when she knows Wickham's true character she refers to him as Poor Wickham!

Towards the middle of the novel, Lizzy is beginning to see her family in the same light as outsiders would and becomes aware of their many failings. She also develops more self-awareness, which her parents did not teach her. Lizzy does show one of her father's traits her humor. Lizzy makes a joke out of the hurt Darcy caused by slighting her. Austen writes, that she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous. This is shown in her father at the Netherfield ball, where Mr. Collins embarrasses the family and Austen writes, no one looked more amused than Mr. Bennet himself.

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Conclusion

To conclude, from Austen's use of language and the impression she gives, I believe Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are not good parents.

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Literary Analysis Essay on Pride and Prejudice: Does Mr. and Mrs. Bennet Good Parents?. (2022, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/literary-analysis-essay-on-pride-and-prejudice-does-mr-and-mrs-bennet-good-parents

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