“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately;” Mrs. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 1
Don’t you just love Mrs. Bennet? No hidden agenda here. Her introduction in the novel Pride & Prejudice quoted above reveals just about everything we need to know about her personality and motivations. It’s all about social position and money.
Being the mother of five unmarried daughters between the ages of 15 to 22 who have no immediate marriage prospects on the horizon can really wear on ones nerves, which she reminds us of quite frequently. And her husband, Mr. Bennet, does not sympathize with her in the least, nor share her concern about their children.
“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied he; “they are all silly and ignorant, like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.”
“Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way! You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.”
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.”
“Ah! you do not know what I suffer.”
“But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood.”
“It will be no use to us if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them.”
“Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all.”
Poor Mrs. Bennet. She may be a very silly woman, but at least she has some idea of the importance of her daughter’s marrying quickly and to men of good fortune. Her methods for procuring husbands, as we will see, may be creative, but her heart is in the right place.
Be sure to mark your calendars and set your watches for the Masterpiece Classic airing of the 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle as wity, plunky and perky Lizzy Bennet and Colin Firth, who needs no introduction, as her sparing partner Mr. Darcy, in the BBC and A & E production of Jane Austen’s classic novel on Sunday, February 10th at 9:00 pm on PBS