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|Mr. Bennet (Final Analysis) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Written by BarbaraB
(5/22/2010 3:12 a.m.)
Mr. Bennet is a very likable man who knows how to be charming and seems like someone who'd be a lot of fun to sit around with and just talk, discuss books and such. He's probably very well informed on many topics. He is, in and of himself, in fact, a good man.
However, as we know he is indolent, irresponsible and neglectful as a husband and father.
*Elizabeth, who inherited her sense of humor and wit from her father will sometimes go up to the edge but manages to remain within the bounds of propriety and is sensitive to the feelings of other. Mr. Bennet lacks that sensitivity and is too often concerned only with his own amusement.
*He has never bothered to save or in any discernible way put any effort toward a decent future for his family should he die with all his daughters still single. As head of the house he has first and last say as to how the budget should be maintained. If Mrs. Bennet is exceeding her pin-money and/or her household budget, it is Mr. Bennet's responsibility to intercede and correct the matter but it is my opinion that this is another instance where it is easier to give in rather than listen to Mrs. Bennet's constant complaints. Allowing her to indulge in a lack of economy is his fault since he has ultimate say and control of the money.
*Say, you have a neighbor whose home you have observed all sorts of unsavory people going in and out of and there are rumors of drug problems within the household by some of the older children. Here comes your young son/daughter wanting to know if he/she can stay the night there because one of their friends who lives there is having a sleepover. Even though you know the parents, on a neighborly basis, and they are nice people, if they have no control of their home, who is going to give their child permission to stay over because they don't "want to hear it"? You don't need an Elizabeth to point out the obvious answer, it's common sense that it would be foolhardy to allow such a visit. Had Lydia behaved no worse than she did around the officers at Meryton, why spread even that inappropriate behavior abroad when four innocent sisters would be affected by that alone? Mr. Bennet knows that his statement that wherever Jane and Lizzy go they will be judged well themselves so they won't have to worry doesn't hold water because it's a fact that their family connections also will always attend them wherever they go. It was a major part of the culture of the day and once Lydia did elope, if there had been no Darcy to fix everything, the entire family would have suffered. It was an unfair system, to be sure, but it was what it was. Mr. Bennet completely understood all of this.
What bothers me the most is Mr. Bennet's 'too bad-so sad' attitude--if my family ends up homeless, oh well, it's on them. I just don't understand it.
As one of JA's most likable characters, it's all very sad really how a man so gifted with such cleverness and so endowed with personable abilities chose not to use it on behalf of his family, preferring to stay closeted in his library ignoring their needs. I wish we could have gotten more of the Mr. B we see in that profound moment he has with Lizzy at the end to offset so much lack of responsibility. I do believe I will have to pull out PP2 for an emergency infusion of Benjamin Whitrow's charming performance of Mr. B to balance out the Mr. B of the text. :)
(Almost three in the morning---hope this is intelligible.)
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