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|Looking at Mr. Bennet with modern sensibility
Written by Karen G
(5/22/2010 11:21 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Mr. Bennet (Final Analysis) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, penned by BarbaraB
I will start this post by saying, I like Mr. Bennet. He actually reminds me a bit of my own dad (who alas, passed on 15 years ago when I was 21.) My dad adopted 3 daughters, had 1 daughter from a first marriage, and then had 3 more daughters in a second one. I won't go into so much detail here since I don'to mean to analyze my dad, but what I will say is that he treated me as an equal, and didn't think to treat me differently because I was a daughter, not a son. I followed him into engineering. I couldn't have asked for a better dad, although he did occasionally piss off the relatives with irreverent views, and also liked pushing my mom's "buttons" from time to time (but my mom is a very intelligent woman, so there really wasn't too much to tease her to vexation about) and even his daughters' "buttons". But he loved us all very much.
So, that said, we discount the fact here that someone might argue to consider Mr. Bennet's success in life to be over since he only had daughters. His line of immediate succession is gone. In the eighteenth century women were nothing but means to propogate and raise the next generation. The raising of women was for the mothers. The fact that Mr. Bennet was lackadaisical about them hardly mattered to the average man in that age. Chance was not favorable to Mr. Bennet. He's not as conservative and judgmental about his own children as some readers want him to be. But we aren't necessarily seeing him the way the author wrote him and the way an 18th/19th century audience would have viewed him. (History is always revisionist, since it's coming from a point of view in time.)
You do notice that he never allows Kitty to visit Lydia and Wickham. He learns some lessons. He just doesn't moralize about them. And frankly, his fortune turns to his satisfaction to know that he did raise two intelligent, polite, well-received young ladies who have done very well for themselves. Few men had the burden of marrying off 5 daughters and no sons.
So, I'm defending Mr. Bennet. But again, I'm predisposed to like him.
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