Bingley and Mr Darcy meet with Mr Bennet to discuss the possibility of their

Bingley and mr darcy meet with mr bennet to discuss

This preview shows page 12 - 14 out of 17 pages.

Bingley and Mr. Darcy meet with Mr. Bennet to discuss the possibility of theirrespective impending marriages. Furthermore, yet another mark against Mr.Wickham’s character is his lack of parental consultation prior to his elopement withLydia; it is only after their escape to London that Mr. Wickham has any contactwith Mr. Gardiner (acting as surrogate father in Mr. Bennet’s absence) to settle thearrangements for his marriage. The restrictions placed upon eighteenth centurywomen writers might seem an outdated concept now, but as recently as 1965,married women in France were unable to publish written works or hold a professionwithout their husbands’ consent. ( Fergus 3). She clearly was aware of the limitations placed on women in terms of personalautonomy. Indeed, she makes clear her distaste for women’s helplessness in the eyesof the law. In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet laments the sorry state of her futureand that of Longbourn if Mr. Bennet is to die, excoriating English propertylawmakers, Mr. Bennet, and his nephew in one fell swoop: “‘I never can bethankful, Mr. Bennet, for any thing about the entail. How anyone could have theconscience to entail away an estate from one’s own daughters I cannot understand;and all for the sake of Mr. Collins too!--Why should he have it more than anybodyelse?’” (Austen 89). The entail of which Mrs. Bennet speaks entitles Mr. Collins, theclosest male relative to Mr. Bennet, to inherit the family estate upon the patriarch’sdeath due to the Bennets’ lack of a direct male heir. This, in turn, would allow Mr.
Collins to essentially evict Mrs. Bennet and the remaining unmarried Bennet sistersfrom Longbourn if he so desired.Although the exchange between the Bennets is comical, the underlying message isclear: it is ludicrous--to Mrs. Bennet, to audiences, and to Austen--that the Bennetgirls be denied inheritance of their father’s estate based solely on their sex. Inaddition to shedding light on the inequality between men and women in the lateeighteenth/early nineteenth centuries, Austen’s novels offer multiple femalecharacters who assert their independence in a variety of ways to counter saidinequality; Emma Woodhouse, for example, is a wealthy unmarried woman whotakes it upon herself to (altruistically) match make and meddle in others’ lives.Emma’s financial status allows her to live comfortably. In The CambridgeCompanion to Pride and Prejudice, Anthony Mandal offers an examination ofAusten’s struggles with publication in which he notes the ways in which George andHenry Austen aided her with the process of publication, financially and otherwise(42-55). This, and more generally, much of the dialogue between Mr. and Mrs.Bennet, is often played off as the nervous and overwhelmed utterings of Mrs. Bennetcoupled with the wory, tired retorts of her husband. Furthermore, this comment isyet another dig at the personality and character of Mr. Collins, of whom none of theBennets are fond.

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture