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|Elizabeth's humor vs Mr. Bennet's
Written by BarbaraB
(4/28/2010 8:01 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Mr. Bennet a bully or bullied, penned by Aaron
Lizzie is lively and sparkling and she is witty like her father and loves a good laugh herself. The difference is that she regulates herself by adhering to propriety and showing sensitivity to the feelings of others. She understands her father's behavior is incorrect and adjusts her own in contrast to his. Even to Darcy who insulted her himself and Mr. Collins whom one might forgive for giving in to laughter, she puts forth the effort to see them as humans with human feelings. The following are some examples:
1. "...I declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening, when he has nothing to do."
2. "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride -- where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation."
3. The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being run away with by his feelings, made Elizabeth so near laughing that she could not use the short pause he allowed in any attempt to stop him farther, and he continued --(19)
If Mr. Bennet does not have respect in his home, then it is because he has brought it on himself. You reap what you sow in my opinion. Skulking off to his library in a pout like a little boy disgusted because the nice shiny toy he chose didn't work the way he thought it would is not the mature/adult solution to the problem of having chosen, on his own, a wife he now detests. During this period in history, a man had all laws on his side in taking control of his household and was expected to do so. I'm not advocating violence, which he could get away with, but trying to make the point that there was no excuse.
Having worked in a middle school for a good potion of my life, I can't begin to tell you the number of parents who have lost control of their kids because they didn't take responsibility for their job when the were suppose to and then want to delegate blame on everyone else, throw up their arms in defeat or beg the school to solve the problem.
If this example being discussed was one instance of Mr. Bennet's 'wit' at the expense of his family, I would say okay, no one is perfect. But the examples are adding up. I don't understand his cavalier attitude of his daughters' needs to obtain good husbands. He could keel over as he stands there making jokes and then where would they be?
Finally a quote: "Whereas Mrs. Bennet is incapable of acting effectively on behalf of her daughters, Mr. Bennet has the capacity, but not the will, to provide for their future intelligently and effectively. He behaves irresponsibly toward both his estate and his dependents. He does not lack intelligence or an understanding of human nature, but does not have a strong belief in the need to act according to principle and moral obligation. Instead, he operates as an observer, watching what happens around him and returning to his study whenever life gets too uncomfortable for him. Without a diligent regard for principled action, Mr. Bennet, for all his intelligence and his insight into the natures of those around him, cannot and does not act ethically and effectively as the head of his family. He positions himself as a somewhat unattached observer of his family's foibles rather than as an example of ethical propriety and action to his family that his position demands of him."
I know that this post is not likely to change Mr. Bennet proponents' position because I've been there myself. My first encounter with him was Benjamin Withrow's (?) performance in PP2. (Still love it, but I now realize it is good TV) At the time though, I thought Mr. B. was the greatest non-main character in all of Austen and all posts such as this one could not sway my opinion. It took years for the glow to wear off and of focusing on the text through group reads to realize that this charming, witty and funny man is the part we see on the surface and on delving deeper into the core of the character, there is someone not as admirable as I thought. But thanks for taking the time to hear me out. :)
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