‘Pride and Prejudice’ Character Analysis: Mr. Bennet
Analyze how Austen depicts Mr. Bennet. Is he a positive or negative figure?
Written with wit and humor, Austen’s highly acclaimed Pride and Prejudice allures readers as it journeys through an enticing narrative of love despite whatever external and internal conflicts arise.
The story revolves around Elizabeth Bennet, whose social status leads her mother to desperately find wealthy suitors for her and her sisters to marry. On the other hand, there is Elizabeth’s father, Mr. Bennet, whose character development would either surprise you or displease you.
Austen portrays Mr. Bennet as a humorous but sarcastic man who is exasperated with the hopelessness of his family. Nevertheless, Mr. Bennet still has this strong connection with his favorite daughter Elizabeth, whom he can talk to with ease and satisfaction due to their mutual intelligence and understanding. Having seen him as one of the closest family members to Elizabeth who understands her, the reader would immediately empathize with him. However, as the story progresses, Mr. Bennet becomes lazy and apathetic, a characteristic that supposedly a patriarch should not possess. “On the surface it might look less harmful than drinking and gambling, but it’s just as destructive to his family” (Shmoop Editorial Team). Several circumstances arise in the family, but Mr. Bennet does nothing about it. He sympathizes with his family’s problems; however, he prefers to hide in his library instead of standing up and facing problems. When faced with choices, “he would typically choose the path of least resistance, without consideration of the consequences” (Mortensen).
Therefore, Austen depicts Mr. Bennet as a negative character, one who does not care about his family’s future nor his daughters’ present situation. Instead of helping his family, he often mocks them with his jokes. He is a coward who fails to become a source of strength to the family. Mr. Bennet would rather escape the world than cope with it (“Mr. Bennet”).
Mortensen, Melissa. “Mr. Bennet, Basic Character Information.” Story and History, 26 Feb. 2009, http://storyandhistory.com/2009/02/mr-bennet-basic-character-information/. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.
“Mr. Bennet.” SparkNotes, SparkNotes, http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/pride/character/mr-bennet/. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.
Shmoop Editorial Team. “Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/pride-and-prejudice/mr-bennet.html. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.
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