Jane Austen is an intriguing literary writer who offers her audience a rare glance into the nature of her society in the past, and the manner in which marriage was perceived as a way to improve an individual’s life (Nedoma, 2009). In Pride and Prejudice, Austen explores the concept of marriage in a rather forceful way. Most of the characters in Pride and Prejudice are concerned with nothing else than the aspect of marriage. Most of Austen’s work deal with characters that are either married or are planning to do so. Jane Austen thinks that marriage is essential. However, this author also believes that marriage has its own disadvantages, as well. During the time of Austen, women experienced marriage problems, and this raises the question as to whether or not marriage is essential. In her book, Austen brings out Mrs. Bennet as an anxious and unintelligent individual who is always afraid. Mrs. Bennet has been used to bring out some of the problems facing marriages during the author’s time. One of the ideas that Jane Austen brings out in Pride and Prejudice is the rigid class system, which existed during her time.
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Mrs. Bennet’s marriage faces problems, which are caused by the rigid class system that existed during that period. The rigid class system denied individuals from progressing in life. This system implied that the state in which individuals were been born was not going to change until they passed on or ceased existing. During the Austen’s time, marriage was perceived as a weapon to enhance one’s life financially and socially. Those women who did not have better means of survival made sure that they got married to a rich man so as to improve their status (Austen, 2008). These women did not waste any time but hurriedly found themselves men who would support them and elevate their social status. This meant that women did not get married for love. Women did not think love was enough to give them happiness, hence, this aspect was not considered when it came to finding a spouse. The problems Mrs. Bennet is facing in her marriage could be due to the fact that she did not take enough time to find out more about the man she was marrying.
It is also possible that Mrs. Bennet, just like the other women of her time, only focuses on what she can get or attain out of marriage. This has led her to land on someone she does not love, just like most women of her time. Mrs. Bennet and her husband make a rather imperfect couple. The inflexible class system prevented women from deliberating about marriage. Mrs. Bennet lacks control over her own life. She is always controlled by her husband and cannot do anything about it. Healthy marriages are those that are founded on love. Partners in such marriages respect each other rather than control one another. Good marriages are those that encourage respect for both partners. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Mrs. Bennet. During days of Jane Austen, women were viewed as the “weaker sex”. They had to deal with issues of being under their husbands in an unhealthy way. This does not mean that a woman should not submit to her husband, but there is a need for men to be respectful to their wives so as to achieve a successful marriage. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Bennet is not in a position to meet her needs on her own, and that is why she has no choice but to depend entirely on her husband. In addition, Mrs. Bennet does not own anything; hence, this makes her fully depend on her husband.
Women had a wrong mentality that men would give them a better life. For instance, Mrs. Bennet tells her daughter Elizabeth “If you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage…you will never get a husband…I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead – I shall not be able to keep you” (Austen, 2008). Mrs. Bennet’s words reveal how she is totally dependent on her husband and believes that men are the only ones who can take care of women. This statement also brings out Mrs. Bennet’s weaknesses. Mrs. Bennet seems not to believe in herself or women in general to a level that she advises her own daughter to get a husband who can take care of her. This leaves one wondering whether Mrs. Bennet ever thought about what would happen if her husband passed on and left her on her own to take care of their children. It is clear that Mrs. Bennet would be left poor if her husband died. This statement also shows how worried Mrs. Bennet is with her current situation. She is not sure if she can take care of Elizabeth even with her husband being around. She is not comfortable with her current state.
Mrs. Bennet has no ability to design her life the way she feels best. Therefore, Jane Austen implies that Mrs. Bennet is the reason behind problems that her daughters are facing. For instance, Mrs. Bennet behaves in a manner less way that leaves Darcy believing that Bingley and Jane cannot make a good match. Instead of Mrs. Bennet’s teaching her children how to be productive society members, she encourages them to go around flirting with men, so that they could get husbands. Mrs. Bennet even encourages Lydia to elope. She symbolizes the life and character of her society during Austen’s time. Through this character, the way of life of people of her society and time is revealed. Attitudes of the people in Mrs. Bennet’s society are powerfully revealed through her. Mrs. Bennet’s behavior tells the audience that she is naive and stupid. Jane Austen utilizes satire in an artistic way, which is reflected through Mrs. Bennet’s behavior.
In the first chapter, the author of this story paints a clear picture of the kind of person Mrs. Bennet is. Readers are told in the first chapter: “Mrs. Bennet was a woman of mean understanding, little information and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughter married; its solace was visiting and news” (Austen, 2008).Statements; “mean understanding” and “little information” show that Mrs. Bennet is naive and not intelligent. In the story Pride and Prejudice, readers get to learn that Mrs. Bennet is the daughter of a lawyer but hardly comprehends “entailment” even when its meaning is explained to her many times. Mrs. Bennet also has an intelligent husband who keeps on making fun of her through irony, which she hardly notices. It is also noticeable that Mrs. Bennet communicates in ways that show that she has little intelligence. Mrs. Bennet has also not raised her daughters in the most appropriate way. The fact she disapproves Darcy implies that she cannot make rational judgments. Analyzing all these aspects makes one have no choice but to assume that Mrs. Bennet is stupid. Mrs Bennet’s problems are as a result of the rigid class system of her time.
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