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

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The Bennets's marriage is largely one of convenience. Like so many people of their time and class, they've been brought together for reasons which have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with love or romance. They first became manacled together all those years ago because each had something the other needed. Mrs. Bennet brought money to the marriage, whereas Mr. Bennet brought social respectability.

Even though it was blindingly obvious to anyone with a functioning brain or eyes that the two were completely incompatible, they went ahead with their nuptials anyway and have been lumbered ever since with a marriage that is singularly devoid of mutual love or respect.

The difference in temperament between the Bennets is the most notable of the many that disfigure their marriage. Whereas Mr. Bennet is possessed of a sly, sardonic wit, Mrs. Bennet is a vulgar, humorless ignoramus whose stupidity is matched only by her emotional instability. Nevertheless, one could argue in defense of Mrs. Bennet that she's much more solicitous of her daughters' well-being than her laid-back—not to say, lazy—husband, whose hands-off approach leads to all kinds of problems, such as the flighty Lydia's elopement with the slimy Mr. Wickham.

It is Mrs. Bennet, perhaps over-compensating for her irredeemable vulgarity, who shows herself forever anxious to maintain her family's good name. Mr. Bennet, on the other hand, seems to find the various conventions concerning the so-called marriage market faintly absurd, which though a wholly admirable attitude in some respects, drives a further wedge between himself and his wife.

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A good place to look for a quick characterization of the Bennets' relationship is in the last paragraph of chapter one. The narrator says,

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, 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.

Thus, we learn that Mr. Bennet is witty and sarcastic, yet somewhat socially reticent, and impulsive: a most unusual combination of qualities such that his wife, who is already somewhat deficient in terms of understanding, has never really been able to understand him—despite their twenty-three year marriage. Mrs. Bennet, on the other hand, is not very smart, not very educated, and she is temperamental or moody. When she is unhappy, she imagines that her nerves are bothering her. Her sole goal is to find husbands for her five marriageable daughters; when prospects are bad, she finds comfort in gossip with other women. It would be difficult to find two more opposite characters. Which daughters they prefer say a lot about each of them: Mr. Bennet prefers Elizabeth and Jane while his wife prefers Lydia and Kitty. He likes intelligence and understanding while she likes giggling and silliness. How on earth could such a couple continue to get along?

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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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