The Lovable Mrs. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice Essay

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The Lovable Mrs. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice The general impression of Austen's novels, which critic D. W. Harding says relieved him of any desire to read them, is that they offer readers a humorous refuge from an uncertain world. In his article "'Regulated Hatred': An Aspect in the Work of Jane Austen," Harding claims that this impression is misleading and that Jane Austen is actually very critical of her society, covertly expressing downright hatred for certain members of it by means of caricature. Mrs. Bennet, from Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is one of these "comic monster[s]". Harding claims that in order to view Mrs. Bennet as anything other than utterly detested by Austen one must ignore this Austen's…show more content…
Bennet for the failures of her marriage. But if we view the beginning of her marriage in Mrs. Bennet's terms, Mr. Bennet turns out to be as disappointing a husband as she is a wife. Unlike her husband, Mrs. Bennet was not looking for strong understanding or a liberal mind in her partner. She was looking for affection and financial security; she has been denied both. Mr. Bennet has chosen to withdraw his affection (Mrs. Bennet likely does not understand his reasons) and, the family lacking sons and his estate being entailed to the nearest male relative, he cannot promise his wife permanent security. Mrs. Bennet is not one to hold back her feelings. Mr. Bennet even makes sport of her ever-present nerves: "They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least" (4). Yet, Mrs. Bennet's society pressures women to be emotionally effusive. It is self-control that almost costs daughter Jane Bennet her marriage. While Jane remains unsure of her feelings for Bingley, she holds back-"as yet, she cannot even be certain of the degree of her own regard, nor of its reasonableness" (15). Elizabeth applauds this honesty, but her friend Charlotte warns her that Jane's complacent behavior might cause her to lose Bingley: "in nine cases out of ten, a woman ought to shew more affection than she feels" (15). Darcy also assumes that women express their feelings fervently and

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