In Pride and Prejudice, do you think Austen makes it possible to feel sympathy for Mrs Bennet?     

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shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Absolutely!  Mrs. Bennet is saved from being condemned solely as a flighty, social climbing scatterbrain through the love she has for her family.  Austen is a master of character, which means that she sees all aspects of a person, and doesn't leave him or her to be received by the reader as a two-dimensional cartoon.

Mrs. Bennet is redeemed because, in her own mind, all her worry and striving for position is for the good of her girls, her family.  Even today, mothers are often caught up in worry and over concern for the welfare of their children.

In Austen's day, a house full of daughters was of real importance and concern for a family.  The girls needed to be married and to marry well, and how they were received in society would tell all about their future prospects.  So, in the same way that parents worry today about what college a child might get in to, even beginning to think about this when their child is only 5 or 6, the Bennets had to consider the prospects of marriage for their daughters.  It was vital to whether their daughters would have a "successful" future.

So, if it is possible to justify at least some of Mrs. Bennet's point of view as genuine parental concern, then it might be a bit easier to see that, in essence, she is acting from love.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I have to say that it is very hard to feel sympathy for Mrs. Bennet, despite of Austen's strategic planning of making Linda elope with that creep Wickham and hence disgracing the family name and reputation.

The reason why I think it is hard to like Mrs. Bennet is because still when Lydia was sending letters her head was somewhere else. She changed her opinion of Wickham as soon as he was forced to marry Lydia, and pretended that everything had been ok all along. That aggravated me a lot, personally. If I felt bad about someone it was for Elizabeth and Jane.

I really feel that between the husband, the daughters, and her own annoying self, Mrs. Bennet is simply very hard to like.

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