Pride and Prejudice, Parenting

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ALTERNATIVE ONE – THE ESSAY QUESTION
“I’d blame it all on the parents”
The novel Pride and Prejudice involves many topics and symbolizes different aspects of life and behavior of people. In this essay I am going to analyze and discuss the theme of parenthood. I will only comment on the characters that are parents or come over as parents, namely, Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Gardiner, Mrs. Gardiner and Lady Catherine De Bourgh. The last character mentioned may not come over as a parent but she acts like one. To begin with, I will start talking about the Bennet family. If we look at the Bennets with modern eyes, we could say that their behavior towards their daughters is very different from how parents get along with their children nowadays. In modern society parents do not marry of their children, we could see this as old fashioned. But in the 19th century the wealthy families wanted that their descendants married other wealthy families in order to save their property. The happiness and feelings of the children did not matter to the parents as we can see in Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet loves his family but he detaches from them in order not to get involved with their lives. He gets on really well with Elizabeth because they both are the most intelligent members of the Bennet family. But as the novel evolves he turns into a father that is weak and in critical moments he fails his family. For instance, he fails his family when Lydia runs off with Wickham. […] “My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?” Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.” Mr. Bennet made no answer.
“Do not you want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently. “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.” […] (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Volume I, Chapter I, page 5)

In this short extract of the novel...
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