Mr. and Mrs. Bennett: Which of the two is a better parent?
support your answers with examples in the book and suggest how the two parents have an effect on their daughters.
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In Jane Austen's classic novelPride and Prejudicethe characters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet certainly do not portray the epitome of good parenthood. At least, that is the impression that Austen bestows upon the reader when she describes them the following way in Chapter 1:
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick tarts, sarcastic humor, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.
This depiction negatively colors the personalities of the Bennets. Although that does not imply that they are bad parents, the fact that their marriage is described in such a way foreshadows that their lack of communication has somewhat impacted the lives of their five daughters.
However, it is in Chapter 20 that we find that it is Mr. Bennet who, ultimately, shows to be more aware about the happiness of his daughters than Mr. Bennet. It is in this chapter when Mr. Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth. As we know, this proposal was condescending, unromantic, and completely against everything Elizabeth wishes for in a man.
When Elizabeth rejects him, Mrs. Bennet goes frantic, accuses Elizabeth of many things and basically sees it as the biggest horror in Elizabeth's life. However, Mr. Bennet clearly does the opposite, showing the love he feels for his favorite daughter especially when he sees that she is under her mother's pressure.
Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?”
“Yes, or I will never see her again.”
“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”
Therefore, there is no doubt that, out of the two, Mr. Bennet is the better parent.
In my opinion, Mr Bennet is the better parent of the two. Although, he seems unconcerned in the beginning, he shows himself to be a good father. He refuses to let Kitty go near Brighton and does not let her go to balls because he fears she will turn out to be like Lydia and make the same mistake she made. When Mr Darcy asks him for Elizabeth's hand in marriage, he asks her to consider whether Mr Darcy is suitable for her or not. He says that he does not want to see her unhappy with her husband. Whereas Mrs Bennet only wants to see them married. She wanted Elizabeth to marry Mr Collins not thinking that Elizabeth would not be happy with him. When Lydia marries Mr Wickham, she only thinks how wonderful it is to have a daughter wedded at sixteen.
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