Mr. Bennet Character Analysis

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Jane Austen was just twenty-one years old when she wrote Pride and Prejudice, widely considered her tour de force. Austen was born in England in the 18th century during the romantic time period. The romantics strongly believed in imagination over reason, the opposite of the neoclassicists, who believe in reason over emotion. Even though she was born in the romantic period, Austen was a neoclassicist and Pride and Prejudice was written based on the neoclassicist views. After the publishing of Pride and Prejudice, and many other novels, Jane Austen started to become a well-known author. Not just because of her popular novels but also because it was rare for women to do anything besides working around the house in that time period, let alone write a novel. While Pride and Prejudice takes place in England, some of the smaller cities where action occurs are Netherfield, Longbourn, and London. Austen uses epistles, deux ex machina, and burlesque and foil characters to create a novel of manners and a novel of marriages. Since this novel was published in the 19th century, the reason to get married was much different than today’s world. Men were the only ones that could hold property rights, and as I stated above, women mainly stayed around the house. Therefore, there were many instances in which women would marry men for so that they could have property and have money to spend. One strong believer of women marrying men for money and property was Mrs. Bennet. She and her husband, Mr. Bennet, were blessed with the luck of having 5 daughters and Mrs. Bennet believed that it was her job to get them all married, whether they wanted to or not. Mr. Bennet, however, was not a strong believer of this method. Mr. Bennet’s role in the novel, while not central, was to add comic relief and sarcasm to the stress put on by Mrs. Bennet to get her daughters married. While he wanted to get his daughters married, like Mrs. Bennet, he also cared about his daughter’s happiness and, primarily, the reputation of the Bennet family name.

Mr. Bennet was an exceptionally comical character and enjoys fooling around with his wife in a sarcastic tone. Jane Austen chose to immediately show this trait in the very first pages of the novel when Mrs. Bennet asked Mr. Bennet to go and meet Mr. Bingley and grant permission for their daughters to go and visit and possibly marry him. When Mrs. Bennet explained to him why their daughters should marry Mr. Bingley by saying that he makes four or five thousand a year. He sarcastically responds, “‘how can it affect them?’”(Austen 6). During that time period, making four or five thousand a year would be a fortune, yet Mr. Bennet likes to be difficult and fool around with his wife. Marvin Mudrick explains Mr. Bennet’s comical character in his essay that we read in class. He stated that, “Mr. Bennet has become an ironic spectator almost totally self-enclosed, his irony rigidly defensive, a carapace against the plain recognition of his own irrevocable folly” (Mudrick 401). This shows that Mudrick, although he uses a different word, agrees that Mr. Bennet is a sarcastic, comical character. Another example of Mr. Bennet’s comical comments comes after Mrs. Bennet explains that she is “thinking of [Bingley’s] marrying on one of them” (Austen 6). Mr. Bennet again comically responds, “‘is that his design in settling here?’” (Austen 6), making fun of Mrs. Bennet’s assumption that Mr. Bingley came to Netherfield to marry one of their daughters. Despite all of his sarcastic remarks, it is evident that Mr. Bennet cares for the happiness of his daughters when “Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley” (Austen 8). Here, Mr. Bennet shows his businessman side by not being sarcastic or comical and being professional in his ways of talking to Mr. Bingley. By this action, it is clear that he thinks it is important to present his daughters in society to make his daughters and his wife happy.

Once his daughters are...
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