What is the effect on the Bennet family of Mr. Bennet visiting Mr. Bingley?
In chapter 2 Mr. Bennet surprises his family by calling on Mr. Bingley, this surprise had an effect on them. What is the effect and how can it be used as a thesis statment?
"The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mr. Bennet perhaps surpassing the rest; though when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to declare that it was what she had expected all the while."
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Mr. Bennet's initiative to pay a call upon Mr. Bingley is uncharacteristic and exuberantly surprising. While this event occurs early on in the novel, the reader already knows at this point that Mrs. Bennet is the domineering figure in the family, and Mr. Bennet normally tries to escape all the women in his household or observes their antics while making an occasional droll comment.
The effect of his visit is a catalyst for his family's marriage quests to begin in full force. It initiates the relationship between Jane and Bingley and introduces Elizabeth to Mr. Darcy.
At the end of Ch. 1 Jane Austen describes Mr. Bennet in the following words:
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.
In Ch. 2 we read that Mr. Bennet in spite of the objections that he raised in the opening chapter of the novel - "I see no occasion for that" - has already visited Mr. Bingley. This only proves his capricious or whimsical nature.
More significantly, it is this incident which initiates the action of the plot of the novel. If Mr. Bennet had not paid Bingley this formal introductory visit then the Bennets and the Bingleys would never have become acquainted at all.
When the Bingleys came to stay at the estate of Netherfield Park, Mrs. Bennet urged her husband to call on Mr. Bingley, the eligible bachelor, to whom she could introduce their marriageable daughters. At least one of the five daughters would have to be married; otherwise, the Bennet home and property would have gone in favour of Mr. Collins, as per the law of entailment. Mr. Bennet, rather cynical and aloof by temperament, was unwilling to visit the Bingleys on a purpose of husband-hunting for the daughters. Mrs. Bennet despaired because it was indecent on her part to initiate the proceedings except through the socialising bid of the father.
Mr. Bennet then decided to call on the Bingleys, and his visit surprised as well as excited his wife and other members of the family. Mr. Bennet anticipated this reaction, and his wife opined that she had expected this action of her husband. However, Mr. Bennet's visit set the ball rolling: the Bennet girls met the Bingleys and their friend, Darcy, at the ball; the elder daughter, Jane, and Mr. Bingley fell into a love at first sight; the love-hate relationship between the second daughter, Elizabeth, and the young aristocrat, Darcy, also got underway.
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