Mr. Bennet Essay

1075 Words5 Pages
Mr. Bennet’s failure as a father figure is a hot topic discussed among many scholars of Pride and Prejudice. Susan Fraimann defends Mr. Bennet by proclaiming that, “Mr. Bennet is not really a bad father—just a modern one...smooth-browed advocate of instruction over discipline and reason over force, he typifies the Lockean father” (Fraimann 182), while other critics condemn Mr. Bennet for failing as a father and having “too little sense of duty or responsibility” (Auerbach 134). Although both sides of the argument have valid points and Mr. Bennet has succeeded in raising Jane and Elizabeth, his poor relationship with his wife and his own extremely indolent and self-centered personality have consequently affected his family in a very negative way and frame him as an incompetent father, epitomized in his treatment of Mary. The root of Mr. Bennet’s parenting failures come from the past, particularly his relationship with his wife, Mrs. Bennet. Immediately as Pride and Prejudice starts, the reader obtains a glimpse of the strange relationship between the couple whose frequent arguments are both amusing and witty. Mrs. Bennet is subject to her husband’s endless sarcasm and witty jabs, and often exclaims in vexation that he has no passion for her ‘poor nerves’ (Austen 3). Mr. Bennet, though quite aware of her feelings, is not interested in her superficial worries and raptures. Their weak relationship is the consequence of a marriage based on appearance, where it is revealed by Austen that Mr. Bennet, “captivated by youth and beauty...had married [Mrs. Bennet] whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had, very early in their marriage, put an end to all real affection for her” (213). In addition, he and his wife counted on having a son to defeat the entail that Mr. Collin’s had on the Longbourn Estate (277). However, a son never came, and five daughters later Mr. and
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