Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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Can you provide a brief character analysis of Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice?

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Poor ol' Mr. Bennet

The portrait of Mr. Bennet is comparable to a man in a bubble: He is completely shut off from the convoluted life in his household caused primarily by his exceedingly annoying wife, Mrs. Bennet, and his completely different 5 daughters.

Having 5 daughters already puts him on a losing end. No heir meant that his entire estate and hard-earned possessions would go directly to a far cousin, Mr. Collins, after his death. This apparently does not seem to phase Mr. Bennet, who leaves the topic alone, seems "happy go lucky" about it, and retires consistently to read in his library.

Having a wife like Mrs. Bennet is perhaps even more punishing: A woman who consistently demands his attention towards marrying off the daughters, the entailment of Mr. Collins, the behavior of Lizzie and Lynda, and the constant asking of calling on gentlemen to make acquaintance.

Mr Bennet is aloof. He seemingly only reacts to extreme situations such as Lydia's elopement (and Mr Gardiner did more than he did in finding her). He is the typical man who probably had the same arrangements to marry Mrs. Bennet in his youth, for which he had no option, and he takes refuge in his reading.

Had he had sons, instead of daughters, maybe things could have been different: With sons, he would have had to prepare them to become his heirs, they may have had more in common such as hobbies and interests, and certainly it would have taken power away from Mrs. Bennet, since she would have not had anything to nag about. At times it seems that this is actually the source of Mr. Bennet's aloofness and lack of care for his family: He is in the total minority and there is nothing he can do about it.

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