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|Did Mrs. Bennet understand?
Written by Kathi
(1/11/2004 9:59 a.m.)
One subject of debate that often comes up on the P&P board is whether Mrs. Bennet understands when Mr. Bennet is teasing her and enters into the spirit of the teasing, or whether she is genuinely upset by his teasing. I don't see any conclusive evidence in this section, but there are a couple of suggestive passages.
Some have expressed disbelief that after more than 20 years, she didn't recognize teasing, but we are told that "the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand [Mr. Bennet's] character."
In Chapter 2, in response to something Mr. Bennet's teasing, "Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began scolding one of her daughters."
This outburst seems to indicate some genuine frustration over what she sees as Mr. Bennet's obstinancy, which she takes out on Kitty.
As soon as she finds out that Mr. Bennet has called on Mr. Bingley, she jumps from despair to joy, but I don't think she can hold two ideas in her head at the same time. Just because she tells the girls that they have an excellent father doesn't mean she wasn't genuinely upset by the possibility that Mr. Bennet might not call.
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