Pride and Prejudice


Any man who tries to argue Jane Austen's ability to draw characters would be undoubtedly a fool, for the author's talent in that area of prose is hard to match. However even the most ardent fans of Austen will have to agree with the fact that the personages she creates are not appealing to every man. An exception to that trend in this reader's opinion would be the character of Mr. Bennet, who by his sharp wit and stark realism alone redeems Pride and Prejudice for any audience who under other circumstances would take no joy in reading any novel by Austen, this one included. In many ways Mr. Bennet stands as a literary monument to the writer's amazing storytelling ability. While his personality sticks out among others in the novel like a sore thumb, his place in the plot has monumental importance not only to the task of saving an unappreciative reader from boredom but also to the movement and the development of the work as a whole.
One of his most meaningful contributions to the plot is the influence he exerts on Elizabeth. She is obviously his favorite, and probably the only one in his family that he feels real fatherly love for. This is seen from the fact that even though he is often very reserved and distant, the one time he shows emotion it is directed towards her. The act takes place towards the end of the novel, after Darcy announces to him his intention of marriage. The reader first notices that he is not his usual self when Lizzy walks into the library. He is not cool and composed as in other times he is present, but instead is "walking around the room, looking grave and anxious." (Austen, 334) As he starts to speak it becomes clear just how much Darcy's announcement affected Mr. Bennet. "My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life" (Austen, 335) he exclaims, not only admitting the mistake of his marriage but also showing enough love to admit that he doesn't want the same fate to befall Elizabeth. This is very important, as a man who is as cynical as Mr. Bennet would not usually own up to any folly this directly and easily, and although he makes several blunders in the course of the plot this is one of only two he acknowledges. Such a self-infraction of his character could only be explained by the fact that he cares for Elizabeth more than he ever shows, more even than the reader ever realizes.
Taking into consideration Elizabeth's perceptive nature the reader is made to understand the true depth of the relationship between her and her father. It would be impossible for her to grow up without noticing the affection that he felt, and not to benefit from it. Because she is the only child he really cares for, she truly becomes her father's daughter - smart, witty and realistic. Even as she develops as a person during the progress of the events, the qualities Elizabeth obviously inherited from Mr. Bennet allow her for a better perception of what is really going on inside her. It is true that she dares to do something her father doesn't, which is to put the same method of analysis that she uses on other people to herself, but without that skill of interpretation she would not be able to grow and that skill was acquired from none other than her Mr. Bennet. She is, in other words, a direct derivation of her parental genes - the next improved and more modern step up in the evolution of character and abilities exemplified by her father.
As mentioned above, Mr. Bennet admits to two mistakes in the course of the novel. The first one he avows to is his marriage. The second, of course, is his failure in fatherly duties to which he confesses in Chapter VI of Volume III. This instance is different from the other, simply because he really does not loose his composure as he discusses the subject with Elizabeth. The way he chastises Kitty is vintage Mr. Bennet, full of sarcasm and hyperbole to the extent that makes his youngest daughter cry. It is obvious to the reader that he is not really going to prohibit all balls or not