Which member of her own family does Elizabeth criticize and cast judgment on in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Mrs. Bennet is the character that Elizabeth criticizes and judges all throughout the book. Repeatedly, Elizabeth recognizes that it is her mother's lack of prudence, manners, and breeding that are disgracing the entire family. However, Elizabeth understands her duty as a daughter to be respectful and never personally reproaches her mother about her behavior.

Elizabeth judges her mother for allowing the two youngest daughters to run positively wild and becoming the greatest flirts in the village. After reading Darcy's letter, which apologetically detailed all of the improper behavior of the Bennet family, Elizabeth reflects that her father "would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters; and her mother, with manners so far from right herself, was entirely insensible of the evil" (Ch. 37). After Lydia runs off with Wickham, we further see Elizabeth reflect on her mother as being stupid and selfish, characteristics that also help produce the improper behavior frequently seen in the Bennet household, as we see when she reflects that her mother's stupidity and selfishness put an end to any of Mr. Bennet's affection for her, as we see in the line, "Her father ... had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had, very early in their marriage, put an end to all real affection for her" (Ch. 42).

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