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|For Mr. Bennet's Amusement
Written by BarbaraB
(4/21/2010 12:16 p.m.)
For some reason, during this group read, my eye seems determined to zero in on what amuses Mr. Bennet and the insensitivity of some of his jokes/joking. Maybe all those Mr. B. debates on the P&P board has made me more attuned to this.
1. In chapter 13 when Mr. Bennet announces that a guest who is a stranger to him will be visiting he reveals, "About a month ago I received this letter; and about a fortnight ago I answered it, for I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention. It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases."
On one level, one 'gets it' and feels/is tempted to just go with it but is there not an aura of cruel irony here? While it is a joke it is also literally true due to the neglect of Mr. Bennet himself. Even when he has reached a point of considering it no long worthy of contemplation as far as he is concerned, it is a serious situation for his wife and daughters and should be beyond jokes I would think.
2. In chapter 18 after the Netherfield ball, Mrs. Bennet has manipulated the situation so the Bennets are the last to leave. During the fifteen minute wait for their carriages, "Mrs. Hurst and her sister scarcely opened their mouths, except to complain of fatigue, and were evidently impatient to have the house to themselves. They repulsed every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation, and by so doing threw a languor over the whole party, which was very little relieved by the long speeches of Mr. Collins, who was complimenting Mr. Bingley and his sisters on the elegance of their entertainment, and the hospitality and politeness which had marked their behaviour to their guests. Darcy said nothing at all. Mr. Bennet, in equal silence, was enjoying the scene."
JA definitely gives us a dose of humor in this scene but Mr. Bennet is not a part of it per se (only from our viewpoint) but he is enjoying and taking great pleasure out of a moment that is full of awkwardness, discomfort and embarrassment for others.
Some of these instances may be small but as they are adding up, together they do not represent Mr. Bennet well.
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