Do you think that he is a good or bad father throughout the book? How do you think that his sarcastic humour affects his family? Do you think how he reacted to when Lydia eloped was appropriate? Any other opinions on Mr. Bennet?
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As a man living in a society where male children are valued more than girls, he is stuck in a family of all women. However, while he does view them as "silly" and frivolous, he does have a soft spot in his heart for them. He doesn't really respect his wife, as she is only concerned with raising their social status. Mr. Bennet is happy where they are and could care less. However, he does care about the happiness of his daughters. When Elizabeth turns down Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennet threatens to never speak to Elizabeth again, Mr. Bennet says, "From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents – Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do” (chapter 20). He sides with Elizabeth and wants her to be happy, and in that respect, he is a good father looking out for his daughters.
As a man surrounded by five daughters and a wife, he is obviously bored (or oppressed by giddy female society. He entertains himself by teasing them and exercising his rather
sarcastic wit upon them. He probably uses his sarcasm to maintain a distance from his wife and daughters to prevent them from constantly trying to manipulate him. His wit most likely also hides his disappointment in not having a son and heir. However, this means that he must stay cooped up in his study for long hours and he does not really interact much with his family. This inattention results in Lydia’s eloping with Mr. Wickham and almost ruining the family’s reputation. Not knowing that it was Darcy, and not his brother-in-law, who forced Wickham to marry Lydia, he does try to rectify the situation. Thinking his brother-in-law has paid Wickham to marry Lydia, he offers to pay him back. He does receive Lydia in his home, if only to bid her farewell. And he is very concerned when Elizabeth announces her love for Darcy. Thinking of his own mismatched marriage, he thinks he has instilled in Elizabeth the importance of matching temperaments with her husband. When assured both Darcy and Elizabeth are well suited for each other, he allows the match. Thus, he ends up with a relatively happy family.
Mr. Bennett could be described as a disappointed man. In a society where a man was judged by the legacy he passed on to his firstborn son, he was a man with "only" daughters. His legacy will pass to a distant cousin, and his daughters are left to the care of others, requiring them to make "suitable" marriages.
Yet his younger daughters bid fare to disappoint him in this. Influenced more by their frivolous mother, they make unwise choices, and it is his duty to "clean up" their messes. The family's good name depends on a lack of scandal. While it may seem heartless that he forces Lydia into a marriage he knows will be unhappy (regardless of her present euphoria over it), his hopes are that she will not drag down the others. His hopes depend on the choices made by his two eldest daugheters, Jane and Elizabeth. Eventually, they do make good marriages, financially, socially, and emotionally.
Is he a good father? Perhaps not. He has resigned himself to the family wealth leaving the direct line. This is his concern, rather than the welfare and happiness of his family. Yet in the end, he is, in a sense, redeemed by Jane and Elizabeth's marriages.
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