April 21, 2015

Mrs. Bennet - a realist and successful mother

After watching some of RonLit's YouTube videos about Jane Austen, I found myself longing to revisit the world of Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  It's been about three years since I've picked up P&P, and I'd forgotten just how much I love this book.  

{Side note: Jane Austen must have been a most interesting person as the witty remarks her characters make, and her personal observations of their behaviour, are just as apt and amusing today as they must have been to her readers buying P&P hot off the press.}

Now, after watching these YouTube videos where the books are critically reviewed and picked apart on every underlying meaning, I feel a new regard for Mrs Bennet.  She has always been a character that I didn't really think much of - apart from the overwhelming relief that my mother is in no way like her! - and yet after thinking about it, out of all the characters who flitter across the pages it is she who is most sensible in her doggedly obsessive hunt to secure her daughters futures.

Just think in Austen's time a mother, daughter, wife or widow had no legal rights to remain in the family home after the death of the man of the house, especially if said estate was entailed to another distantly related male.  He has the power.  This unpalatable truth is brought home by the determination of Mrs Bennet to see her daughters married come hell or high water.  Why else would you consider forcing your daughter to marry the obnoxious Mr. Collins, or to blindly look the other way in regards to Wickham's deeds?  The fact that Mrs Bennet does shows you just how far a Regency mother will go to see her daughters futures secured.  I bet that if all her daughters were to have married men of Wickham's ilk she would not have thought of anything else but an overwhelming relief that her daughters were now married and she had done her job of seeing them all wed.

It is she, instead of her husband, who has the financial security of her daughters in mind.  Why didn't Mr Bennet put aside money for their futures?  Yes, he planned on having a son, but that's still no excuse as to why once it became clear that there was no son to inherit he didn't simply not set aside some amount annually.  Especially since he would have known to whom the estate would have been entailed to.  It speaks of a lack of understanding, and a selfishness in a way, that he just didn't think about their futures once he was gone.  He retreats to his library, escaping his reality and ignoring what he doesn't want to be true.  Yet, for all this Mr Bennet is a much loved character while his wife is not.

Thanks to RonLit and BooksandPieces videos, I now read Pride and Prejudice with a better understanding of Mrs Bennet, and although I think that she is still an annoying character of the highest order ... well, behind Lydia that is, I don't think I'll ever be able to read it without the understanding that out of all the characters, she is the only one that accomplishes her goals - to see your daughters wed.

Okay, that was way too deep and thought provoking for a sunny Tuesday afternoon.  I'm off to watch something lighthearted ;-D

So until next time my lovelies,

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