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|Father, May I?
Written by BarbaraB
(5/5/2010 7:47 p.m.)
Poor Mr. Bennet. When starting this group read, it was never my intention to pounce on him so. However, once I zoomed in on something I'd never really noticed before, I have not been able to look away. Thus he seems to have become a spontaneous focus for me.
The following example of irresponsibility seems to be pretty obvious and unarguable. But who knows, maybe some of his supporters waving those Mr. Bennet flags throughout the group read will appear outside my window. :) No worry, you're all invited in for a cozy, civilized discussion.
So, Lydia has been invited by Mrs. Foster (a space cadet herself, it would seem) to stay with them in Brighton where Colonel Foster and his regiment have been reassigned. Lydia and soldiers? And away from the even minimal protection/eye of her family? It seems like a no-brainer to me: "No, Lydia you can not go! Period. Zilch. No Way. The end." And what does Mr. Bennet do.........?
And here is Lizzy practically begging him to reconsider, giving very solid reasons for it. "If you were aware...of the very great disadvantage to us all, which must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner..." Is this her job?
Mr. Bennet brushes this off with more joking, "...What, has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity, are not worth a regret. Come, let me see the list of the pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia's folly." Unbelievable. These girls need husbands and cannot afford to be willing to allow any reasonably decent prospects to be frightened off because of her sisters' behavior.
Lizzy: "...If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment....Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrouled! Oh! my dear father, can you suppose it possible that they will not be censured and despised wherever they are known, and that their sisters will not be often involved in the disgrace?"
Mr. Bennet now sees that Lizzy is really upset and tries to soothe her by telling her she and Jane will always be respected despite the actions of her younger sisters. Nor does he see any reason to worry because she has no real money to speak of so who will want her?
Lizzy must give up the cause though her opinion doesn't change. As aware as she has been of her family's impropriety, she is more aware of it since Darcy's letter. "She felt anew the justice of Mr. Darcy's objections; and never had she before been so much disposed to pardon his interference in the views of his friend." (41)
All of Mr. Bennet's sitting back and being amused at the improper behavior of his family and the jokes concerning his oldest daughters' relations with men is coming home to roost. It certainly seems to have provided fodder in separating Jane and Bingley.
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