Could you briefly characterize the relationship between Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen? 

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen are an example of a marriage held together by custom and complacency rather than by any deep intellectual or emotional ties. Mr. Bennet is a member of the gentry, well-educated and intelligent with a quirky sense of humor, although lazy, irresponsible, and somewhat impractical. Mrs. Bennet comes from a family that has earned its money in trade, and thus is Mr. Bennet's social as well as intellectual inferior. The narrator describes her as "a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper." Despite this, she was quite pretty when young and has an energy her husband lacks, two qualities that initially attracted him to her.

Husband and wife live to a large degree in separate worlds, with Mr. Bennet enjoying his reading and male friends and Mrs. Bennet concerned primarily with finding husbands for her daughters. The number of children suggest that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet did have an active physical relationship despite intellectual incompatibility. We often see Mrs. Bennet nagging Mr. Bennet to persuade him to live up to his social duties. Mr. Bennet's style in these interactions ranges somewhere between ironic and passive-aggressive. In general, Mr. Bennet despises his wife and Mrs. Bennet is confused by her husband.

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Pride and Prejudice

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