Posted by Helen on November 25, 1997 at 10:12:54:
In response to Like vs. Respect, written by MB on November 24, 1997 at 17:29:43
] When I first read the book (20 years ago), he was my favorite character, after Lizzie. In subsequent reading, however, I did come to realize that his negelct was responsible for a lot of the ills in his family. He is still one of the most intelligent and humorous characters in literature, but it is a humor sometimes tainted by cruelty.
... I went through the same process myself, and I also think that this is what happens to Lizzy's opinion of her father too, that she starts P&P by thinking him witty, and gradually realizes that he has limitations... you, me and Elizabeth Bennet, all great minds thinking alike ;-)
I think one can extend this thought further - in showing the shortcomings of Mr. Bennet's detachment, JA is showing the limitations of a particular world-view: a purely satirical reaction to the follies of the world, without the desire to engage in improving those one ridicules. Her letters show that she can be as sharp (and as dismissive) in her judgements as Mr. B., but what she values is exactly the respect for other people you outline in your post - a respect which believes people have the potential to improve (see her comments on Kitty at the end of P&P) rather than the belief of most satirists that some people are irredeemably foolish
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