Mrs. Bennet: Pride and Prejudice Essay

Mrs. Bennet: Pride and Prejudice Essay

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In Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet, the mother of the protagonist, Elizabeth, is generally portrayed as a buffoon who is an adversary for he daughter that is trying to force her into a marriage she does not want. One may wonder how she can be justified in any way, considering that she is known to embarrass her family members and behave idiotically. However, in the time period they live in, a marriage is necessary for all of the family to avoid a terrible fate. Mrs. Bennet, while often behaving improperly, does try to do the best for her daughters based on the world she lives in.
Elizabeth Bennet’s refusal of Mr. Collins puts her family at risk of being homeless. In England at the time of great landowners, according to professor Naomi Tadmor of Lancaster University, “Primogeniture existed in both law and custom” (Tadmor, Eighteenth-Century England 109). As such, only one person may acquire the estate. Only males may inherit, as Mr. Bennet, after receiving a letter, says to his family, “It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases” (Austen 60). Mr. Bennet is alluding to how Mr. Collins’s distance from the family would justify the action he describes, even as Mr. Bennet has never previously met Mr. Collins and therefore cannot factor in his strange personality to this eventuality. If Mr. Collins would turn them out, as he is expected to do, the family would be homeless.
This risk of being kicked out is so great that Mrs. Bennet is sure that Elizabeth would marry Mr. Collins. After hearing the news of Elizabeth’s refusal, Mrs. Bennet, “was beyond the reach of reason and she continued to rail bitterly against the cruelty of settling an estate ...

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Tadmor, Naomi. Family and Friends in Eighteenth-Century England: Household, Kinship, and Patronage. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 2001. Questia School. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
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