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|Mrs. B. delights in being vexed
Written by Captain Everett
(1/12/2004 8:46 p.m.)
Mr. Bennet is frequently condemned for his continued teasing of his wife. Many reason are given (bitterness, etc.) However, I find myself thinking that maybe Mrs. Bennet isn't entirely displeased with it. (If another thread has touched on it, apologies for missing it, although several have skirted on idea.)
If Mrs. B's nerves have suffered from her husbands lack of compassion for over twenty years, why does she constantly set herself up to be the victim of his verbal barbs? The possibilities I can see are:
Perhaps, "enjoy" isn't quite the word, but it lies in the right direction. I can think of many people who's world seems to be in a constant turmoil. Minor problems, or something that might happen sometime in the future calls for immediate panic. They may not "enjoy" it, but their first reaction is almost always overreaction. To do otherwise is contrary to their makeup, and be more stressful than working themselves into a tizzy.
I can also think of many couples that engage in a bit of verbal sparring. It can be mean, but many loving couples will do it. Mrs. B. cannot, of course, compete with her husband directly. Her tactic seems to be to build up enough momentum to simply carry her convictions forward despite his jibes
I also wonder how long this has been going on - twenty odd years it would appear. Is it an old game for these two? Did the young Mr. Bennet, attracted by the beauty of Miss Gardiner court her by gentle teasing? She probably grew agitated in a most charming manner. (Henry Tilney used his odd humour with Catherine Morland, who at least had the wit to respond in great "straight man" style.)
As the years passed, and he suffered other disappointments (no heir), his wife's mean understanding and histrionics ceased to be "cute". By that time, the practise was well established, and his put-downs became sharper, though he still enjoyed it even as an mental excercise.
I also believe, if he stopped, she'd take it as a sign of complete rejection.
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