In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, what way does it show that the Lucases' behavior is more dignified then the Bennets' behavior?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is actually a great deal of evidence suggesting that the Lucases are actually considered to be just as vulgar as the Bennets. Sir William Lucas was actually in the working class before he was knighted. He worked as a tradesman in Meryton, made a fortune and became mayor. As a mayor, he made a speech to the King which earned him his knighthood. Sir William then abandoned trade and bought Lucas Lodge where he attempted to live a life of leisure. The problem is that because he quit his trade too soon he actually now has little fortune to share with his family. Charlotte especially feels the want of fortune when she is forced to marry Mr. Collins for the sake of being provided for. There is some suggestion that he acted poorly as a father in abandoning his trade so soon (Ch. 5, Vol. 1). He should have done as Bingley's family had done, that is earned his fortune through trade and then left it to the next generation to acquire an estate (Ch. 4, Vol. 1).

Furthermore, while Austen informs the reader that Sir William is "inoffensive, friendly and obliging" and that "his presentation at St. James's...made him courteous" (Ch. 5, Vo. 1) she also informs us that, like his younger daughter Maria, he is "empty-headed," saying nothing "worth hearing," and only capable of prattling on about his knighthood, much in the same way that Mrs. Bingley prattles on about marrying her daughters and about her nerves (Ch. 4, Vol. 2). Hence, even though he is a courteous man, he has no substance of character and is not capable of engaging in conversations that would make him valuable among society. In other words, his mind and manners have not risen above his working class status; he is vulgar.

We also witness him committing a grave social faux pas that also marks him as being just as vulgar as the Bennets. At the Netherfield ball, while Darcy is dancing with Elizabeth, Sir William alludes to Jane and Bingley's marriage as a "certain desirable event" (Ch. 18, Vol.1). The problem is that Sir William's comment is hasty. Bingley had not yet proposed to Jane, so Sir William had no social right to assume it would happen. Again, this comment to Darcy helps to prove that Sir William's manners have not risen above working class manners and that he is still very vulgar.

auli | Student

charlotte's family is not dignified at all than the bennets'. yes,william lucas was knighted,but this can be added to their social dignity or rather social status. practically,both of the families are vulgar,cheap,ill-bred. you see,when sir william lucas visits hunsford and thence rosings,he shows himself as much silly as mr. collins,they go on praising each and every dish of lady catherine at dinner-table. this is certainly not dignified.

m. bennet is far more practical,although sarcastic, than william lucas. elizabeth is sensible,although prejudiced and proud for her fine analysis of complex characters. jane is amiable,tolerable. but apart from them the rest of the bennets are as silly pompous,blockheaded and certainly not dignified.

so,you see,both the families,actually country folks,can be termed as rather ill-bred families.

rlgreen | Student

I don't know that the Lucas' family is more "dignified". Sir William has let the fact that he has been knighted go to his head. He loves to drop names and recount how he got his honor to call attention to himself.  Charlotte is certainly more practical than Elizabeth, but not really dignified since she throws herself at Collins. Of course, Ms. Bennet and Lydia are very, very foolish.  The Gardner's are the dignified sensible ones in the book, more so than Mr. Bennet even.

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Pride and Prejudice

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