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Thread: Question Regarding Pride and Prejudice

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    Red face Question Regarding Pride and Prejudice

    I've been wondering if Pride and Prejudice was inspired by a relationship Jane Austen (or any of her acquaintances) had?
    Aside from that, I've come across many character analysis websites, and almost all of them described Mrs Bennet as a "noisy, foolish and tiresome" character. Why is she portrayed that way despite her being the caring mom that worries about her daughters future?

    I find Pride and Prejudice very interesting and fascinating. I would really appreciate answers to clarify things.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Hi Amna, I don't know if P&P was inspired by real events, but I very much doubt it.

    It has been many years since I read the book, but Mrs Bennet did come across as rather annoying to me. She is unnecessarily melodramatic. She wants her daughters married off well, but she goes about it in a cringe-making way.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Pride and Prejudice is inspired by (and satirizes) some of the more popular novels that came before it: particularly those of Samuel Richardson. Both Elizabeth and Darcy can be seen to some extent in the characters Clarissa and Lovelace (well, the other way around I guess).

    Calling Mrs. Bennet as "noisy, foolish, and tiresome" may have some truth to it, but is a very shallow analysis for a critic to make. She is not a one-sided character that is for sure: while I wouldn't call her caring, or worrying about her daughter's future (beyond her own desire for status), I can acknowledge how this argument can be made.
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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmnaMJ View Post
    ...almost all of them described Mrs Bennet as a "noisy, foolish and tiresome" character. Why is she portrayed that way despite her being the caring mom that worries about her daughters future?
    Mr Bennet, finds her "noisy, foolish and tiresome", as does Mr Darcy in all likelihood. Do these characteristics imply she cannot or does not care for her daughters' prospects?
    Last edited by Gladys; 03-08-2013 at 06:22 AM. Reason: typo
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    Hi Amna, I don't know if P&P was inspired by real events, but I very much doubt it.

    It has been many years since I read the book, but Mrs Bennet did come across as rather annoying to me. She is unnecessarily melodramatic. She wants her daughters married off well, but she goes about it in a cringe-making way.
    Thank you for your response.

    She might be melodramatic but wasn't that for the sake of her daughters? considering the Georgian era they were living in, marriage was essential as women weren't exactly permitted to work and support themselves independently. Aside from that, the house they were living in was passed down to a male relative as females didn't get any of the inheritance. Wasn't marriage the only solution left to make sure her daughters would live a decent, comfortable life?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    Pride and Prejudice is inspired by (and satirizes) some of the more popular novels that came before it: particularly those of Samuel Richardson. Both Elizabeth and Darcy can be seen to some extent in the characters Clarissa and Lovelace (well, the other way around I guess).

    Calling Mrs. Bennet as "noisy, foolish, and tiresome" may have some truth to it, but is a very shallow analysis for a critic to make. She is not a one-sided character that is for sure: while I wouldn't call her caring, or worrying about her daughter's future (beyond her own desire for status), I can acknowledge how this argument can be made.
    How was Pride and Prejudice inspired by Clarissa? The marriages in Pride and Prejudice were quite successful and didn't seem as forceful as those in Clarissa. Elizabeth had the prejudice and Darcy had the pride and that was the cause of the continues misunderstandings, while Clarissa was tricked by Lovelace and did not realize his true sinister nature till he abducted her.

    I do agree with you on how she's not a one-sided character. If you don't mind me asking, what's your personal opinion of her?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    Mr Bennet, finds her "noisy, foolish and tiresome", as does Mr Darcy in all likelihood. Do these characteristics imply she cannot or does not care for her daughters prospects?
    But despite him finding her noisy and foolish he did go along with her. At the beginning of the story, he did visit Mr. Bingley right from the start meaning that he somehow does approve of Mrs. Bennet's techniques. These characteristics are just samples, the criticism goes on and clearly states that she does not care about her daughters.

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    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    Mrs Bennet may not be the best mom in the world, but of course she cares for her daughters and their future. Any criticism that says she doesn't is way off the mark. You can care for your daughters and still be noisy and foolish and tiresome, so I do not see why one should exclude the other. Moreover, caring for your children is a natural human instinct and one does not get any brownie points for that. Perhaps it is not her her pursuit of husbands for her daughters that is faulted, but the foolish, ungraceful way in which she does it?

    As for Mr Bennet, he certainly doesn't disapprove of becoming friendly with the neighbours, for he too would naturally be interested in getting good husbands for his daughters, but he understands more clearly than his wife that some of the things she was doing would scare them off instead of attracting them. But instead of trying to counteract the damage, he evades his responsibilities and takes refuge in making fun of everyone else's foibles. Once again, a caring parent who still does not do the right thing in bringing up his daughters or making their future secure.
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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Well, Mrs Bennet's bad habits are enlarged (her near-to impropriety towards Darcy for a start) while her good points are less emphasised. She cares for her daughters because she wants her husband to be the first to bl**dy well go and visit Bingley (first come, first serve, is her motto). Of course, that Bingley would feel slightly intimidated with six girls pushed upon him, is not her problem.
    Although she does have a point that time is ticking: in an age where anything could happen from one hour to the next to her husband, she could lose everything from the one moment to the next. One day in 1861 Prince Albert was feeling slightly under the weather as always, the next day it is understood he's got typhoid and he dies at 41. I mean, who is to say that Mr Bennet doesn't suddenly collapse of heart failure, falls off his horse and breaks his neck or contracts a nasty cold? It's all a matter of getting rid of her girls as soon as possible and to as prosperous husbands as possible, and in an age where men were scarcer (the Napoleonic wars, you see).

    I think the problem with Mr Bennet is that he allegedly married his wife because of her beauty. He didn't know her that well, apparently, and now he regrets it. Certainly when all his daughters will have left home, his life will be pretty bad with a wife he can't endure. Is that why he goes to Pemberley so often to see his favorite daughter when she is Mr Darcy? On this forum we have at length discussed why Mr Wickham would be his favorite son-in-law. Maybe because he has also been pushed into marriage. But that's speculation.
    He flees into his library (a haven of manhood in the 19th century), where he can escape his wife and maybe somewhat ill-accomplished daughters, but where he is still bugged by her.

    I suppose there is something in the Clarissa and Lovelace thing. Not in the story, but Clarissa's pride and natural sense that she superior to everybody is quite the same as Darcy's. They will both have to acknowledge they are wrong, although Darcy's demise is less bad than Clarissa's. Elizabeth is maybe less boistrous than Lovelace, but somehow also that breath of fresh air. Although that's possibly where it stops.
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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Pride and Prejudice, I have always felt, is the most indebted to Frances Burney (as I sit outside McGill's Burney Centre typing this) out of all of her novels. I err against many critics when I say that Emma is Austen's best crafted, mature, and distinct novel.

    I would caution against the naive reading of Austen as a dedicated realist, who was documentarian in her approach to novel writing. Her novels are constructed and literary in an exact way, the degree to which people actually behaved as depicted in Austen's writing is a matter of debate. I don't think Austen was inclined as an author to autobiographical writing, which was fairly uncommon at the time. She was a spinster who had one possible near marriage that fell through for some reason, and we know next to nothing about her private life because her sister burned her correspondences after death. What we know from her surviving writing is that she was brilliant and had a cutting wit she applied to almost everything. She liked to criticize the myths people tell themselves, about marriage, history, and love. I think it's fair to say Austen's novels do reflect the kind of stories and types of people you would likely encounter in the popular writing and gossip of the time, and Austen's brilliance comes out in the ways she manages to make these cliche characters come to life in that liminally realist way.

    Edit: I think Richardson is a bit removed as an influence, although he looms over all English fiction (and to an extent German and French fiction since he was immensely popular on the continent) until the mid 19th century. Charles, I think, is right about Austen being a very literary minded author who drew her inspiration from what people were writing more than from her personal life.
    Last edited by OrphanPip; 03-07-2013 at 05:54 PM.
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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    Unfortunately Cassandra Austen burnt most of Jane's letters, so we'll never know, but I suspect many of the characters in the books could be found in her local society.
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