Tag Archives: Mrs. Bennet

Thoughts On The Anniversary Of The Publishing Of Pride and Prejudice

*Warning: this post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations.

There are some books that continue to speak to us on a broad cultural level, regardless of the era when they were published.

Pride and Prejudice is one of these books. Written by Jane Austen and published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice continues to be one of the most popular and relevant books in our culture.

While on the surface, Pride and Prejudice is the story of the rocky courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzilliam Darcy, it is much more than that. Austen was an astute observer of her era, using her novels to subversively point out the human foibles of her characters and the social misfires that are as relevant today as they were in 1813. Whether it was the disenfranchising of women (the Bennet girls automatically disqualified from inheriting the family home because they are women), the snobbery of the upper classes (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) or the foolishness of marriage for marriage’s sake (the not so happy marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet), Austen was not afraid to use her writing to reveal some hard truths about her world.

In addition to Pride and Prejudice, Austen published five other novels in her lifetime. She died at the age of 41, not knowing that her popularity would last centuries after her death.

I am going to end this post with Thug Notes edition of Pride and Prejudice because, I can’t think of a better way to honor Pride and Prejudice.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mr. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The first man in any woman’s life is her father, or lack thereof.  He will forever cast a shadow over her life and is the yardstick for how she will judge the men she meets throughout her lifetime. When it comes to dating and relationships, a woman’s father will play a part, even if he is in the background of her life.

In Pride and Prejudice, when compared to his wife, Mr. Bennet can be looked at as an absentee parent. The first description of Mr. Bennet is found very early in the novel:

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.

Mr. Bennet largely spends his time in his library, sequestered away from his wife and daughters. He openly favors Elizabeth (the second of his five daughters), mercilessly teases his wife (who gets sucked in every time) and does not step in as a father should, except when he is forced to (i.e. Lydia running away with Wickham). Unable to divorce his wife (divorce in that era was not only scandalous, but difficult), Mr. Bennet is content to sit in his library and largely ignore his family.

Compared to his wife (and her hysterics), Mr. Bennet is the emotionally absent parent. Unhappily married to a woman whom he is not compatible with, he has dealt with the hand of cards life has given him the best way he knows how to. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I marvel that Jane and Elizabeth have not only come through to adulthood without major emotional trauma, but also that their marriages are much happier than their parent’s marriage.

To sum it up: Not all marriages are happy. In a time when divorce was nearly impossible and scandalous, those trapped in unhappy marriages found ways to cope. Mr. Bennet’s way of coping was locking himself in his library. We all have coping mechanisms to deal with the difficult areas of our lives, in giving characters coping mechanisms, we make them human and despite their flaws, we understand them. The main task of a writer to create characters that the audience can relate to. Without that connection between the characters and the audience, it is highly likely that the audience will walk away and never return.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mrs. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Anyone who reads Jane Austen can quickly determine that she is hard on the mothers in her fiction. With the exception of Mrs. Morland in Northanger Abbey, the mothers are either dead, emotionally absent or physically absent from their children’s lives. But her greatest mother character among the six novels is Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

Mrs. Bennet is one of the most cringe worthy mothers in all of literature. She prattles on about nothing, openly boasts about pushing her daughters toward wealthy men, embarrasses her children on a frequent basis and seems to always have a case of the nerves.

 

While the reader is laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we don’t realize that she is actually not only the more engaged parent, but she is more realistic about her daughter’s future. She knows that she has no sons and that upon her husband’s future passing, Longbourn (the Bennet family estate), will automatically pass to her husband’s cousin and heir, Mr. Collins.  She also knows that her husband is not the best money manager and has only left his daughters with a small inheritance. It is therefore incumbent on the girls to marry well.

The best comedy makes us think while we are laughing. In making Mrs. Bennet an over the top comedic character whose anxieties are based on real issues, Jane Austen is making the reader think. Female based inheritance was not common up until recently. Most inheritance went from father to son or father to nearest male relative. Jane Austen, in a way that only she can, is making a statement about the injustice of passing over daughters when it came to matters of inheritance, whether it be inheritance of a title, a property, family income or all three.

To sum it up: One of Jane Austen’s best qualities as a writer was to subversively make her audience think. After we stop laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we realize that in her own way, she knows what she is doing. She knows that her girls have to marry men of financial consequence. The lesson I take from this character as a writer is that there has to be to more to a comedic character than making the reader laugh.  Funny is well and good, but in the end the clown has to take off their makeup at some point. That is the lesson to learn from Mrs. Bennet.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Charles Bingley

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is always something fascinating about the new boy or girl in town.  The aura of their newness and mystery brings out the detective in everyone, eager to find out the details on their new neighbor.

In Pride and Prejudice, the book really gets going when the rumors in Meryton start to fly about the newest member of the community, Charles Bingley.  He is young, handsome and rich, as Mrs. Bennet crows in delight to her husband.

  “What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is he married or single?”

“Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”

The readers and the characters are fully introduced to Mr. Bingley at a local ball. Bingley is amiable, friendly and quickly develops feelings for Jane Bennet, the eldest of the five Bennet daughters. The feelings are mutual, but his best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sisters, Caroline and Louisa would prefer that Bingley look elsewhere for a wife. Though Bingley is smitten with Jane, he is convinced to break off the relationship even before it has begun.

The end of the book is not unexpected. While Jane is silently pining for Bingley, he is regretting that not only did he walk away from her, but that he let others make his decision for him. He returns to Meryton (with Mr. Darcy in tow, whom he will soon call brother-in-law), proposes to Jane and they all live happily ever after.

Often, when Pride and Prejudice is referred to, most people outside of the Janeite (the nickname for Jane Austen fans) community think of Mr. Darcy. But while Darcy gets the attention, Bingley quietly slips into the background. While he is not the romantic hero and needs to grow a pair, he is amiable, friendly and unlike his best friend, not judgmental or snobbish. Despite his second nature story line, Bingley’s character arc and growth throughout the novel is equal to Darcy.

To sum it up: Sometimes the quieter character growth is more important than the bombastic one. In learning to stand up for himself and his needs, Mr. Bingley grows from a young man who loses himself in other’s opinions to a man who is not afraid to speak up when someone else is trying to make his decisions for him.  Character growth, in whatever direction it takes, is the most important job of a writer, regardless of whether the character is in your face, or waiting in the wings for it’s moment to shine.

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RIP Doris Roberts

Doris Roberts passed away today.

A veteran performer of the stage and screen, both big and small, Ms. Roberts is known to audiences of a certain age as the loving but meddling, Mrs. Bennet like Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond.

While most women of her generation are willing to sit back and let what is left of their life pass by, Marie Barone lived life to the fullest. She was feisty, loving, sharp-tongued and maybe a little too much of a helicopter parent to her grown sons. But audiences loved her and responded to her every woman character.

Another role that she is remembered for is Mrs. Kavarsky in Hester Street, a film that depicted immigrant life in New York in the early 20th century. Her role of Mrs. Kavarsky was that of a woman who threw off the trapping of the old world and remade herself in the image a modern women in the early 20th century United States.

RIP.

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Death Comes To Pemberley Part I Recap

*-This recap contains spoilers.  If you have yet to read either of the the books or watch the miniseries, read at your own risk.

Jane Austen’s most famous and beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice ends happily ever after. The union of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, the reader hopes, is to be a long and blessed one.

Last year, author P.D. James took her readers 6 years into the future of this couple. Mingling the characters of Pride and Prejudice with murder mystery, Death Comes To Pemberley asked viewers the following question: Who murdered Captain Denny (Tom Canton)?

Elizabeth (Anna Maxwell Martin) and Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew Rhys) are in the midst of wedded bliss. Life at Pemberley has become normal. Their son, also named Fitzwilliam, is a hearty, healthy and energetic boy who wants for nothing. Georgiana (Eleanor Tomlinson) is of an age to marry. The entire household is in a frenzy, as the Lady Anne Ball is approaching.  The last thing they want or need is the accusation murder on Darcy land.

Enter Colonel Fitzwilliam (Tom Ward) and Henry Alveston (James Norton). The Colonel, who is Georgiana’s c0-guardian after the death of her father, has begun to look at his young cousin differently. While the Colonel may see her in a different light, Georgiana seems to have made her choice elsewhere.

Invited to the Lady Anne Ball are Elizabeth’s parent’s, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (James Fleet and Rebecca Front). For the sake of his wife, Darcy rolls his eyes and deals with in in laws, as many men have and will do. While Mr. Bennet characteristically retreats to his son in law’s library, his wife foolishly chatters on how wonderful Mr. Wickham (Matthew Goode) is , unaware of his true nature and his attempted seduction of Georgiana.

As a the lady of the manor, one of Elizabeth’s duties is to visit those that live and work on the land. Mr. Bidwell (Philip Martin Brown) has been a loyal servant. Elizabeth has become friendly with his wife, Mrs. Bidwell (Jennifer Hennessey), his bed ridden son, Will (Lewis Rainer) and his daughter, Louisa (Nichola Burley). Louisa has just returned from visiting her sister with a child she is caring for that she has claimed is her sister’s. But there is something about the child that does not add up.

In the village near Pemberley, an argument ensues between Captain Denny and Mr. Wickham. It continues in the carriage on the ride to Pemberley. That is, until Captain Denny orders the coachman to stop and runs out in the forest. Wickham goes after him, shots are fired and Lydia’s (Jenna Coleman) screams are heard as the carriage stops in front of Pemberley. Captain Denny is found dead and Wickham is suspected of being the murderer.

Strangely, despite their strained relationship, Darcy seems to understand that Wickham is not guilty. He remembers a boy who was hanged for poaching and how they witnessed it, despite being told to stay away. Add in the mystery of a spirit haunting the woods and an unknown woman with whom Colonel Fitzwilliam was seen in conversation with about a subject that is yet to be revealed.

I read the book and saw the miniseries when it was online briefly last year. I won’t reveal anything else, but I will let you, gentle reader learn the truth on Sunday.

 

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The Perfect Austen Fan Satire

A fan satire is created on a very fine line. If it is done properly, it  is Lost In Austen. If it is not done properly, it is Austenland. I’m not going to talk further about Austenland, because it is simply not worth the effort.

Amanda Price (Jemima Roper) is a Janeite. She finds solace from her job and her less than Darcy like boyfriend (who proposes marriage drunk using the tab from his beer can as an engagement ring) by reading Pride and Prejudice.  She finds Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton) in her bathroom and they switch places.  Amanda soon finds that she has irrevocably altered the plot of Pride and Prejudice and must find a way to set things right.

I love this miniseries. The in-jokes are there, the characters we know and love (or hate), are also there. Hugh Bonneville and Alex Kingston are perfectly cast (and age appropriate) as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. We even learn Mr. Bennet’s first name. Elliot Cowan is smoldering and sexy as Fitzwilliam Darcy.

This is the perfect Austen satire.  I highly recommend this mini series to every Janeite.

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Pride and Prejudice 1995 Vs Pride and Prejudice 2005

I think it is pretty safe to say that Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most famous novel. Most people, regardless of whether they have read the novel or not, have at least heard of it.

Part of it’s success is due to the adaptations that Hollywood has provided us. The most famous adaptations are the 1995 miniseries and the 2005 movie.

Like my previous post about Mansfield Park , I will try to honestly debate both adaptations.

1995 Pride and Prejudice

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Colin Firth), Mr. Bennet (Benjamin Whitrow), Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Barbara Leigh-Hunt)

Pros: Colin Firth in clingy pants (that ingenious line is from Lost In Austen, which I highly recommend). Sorry, I had to get that out.  Aside from that, Firth and Ehle have solid chemistry. It’s just there, you know that something is going to happen between their characters regardless of how much of the novel the viewer has read. There is so much detail in this adaptation, it is as if Miss Austen was on set during filming.  Every actor is perfectly cast.

Cons: The only con that I can think of is that some of the actors were a bit older than their characters, especially the parental figures in the novel.  But it’s not really a con because they were so effective as their characters that you forget there may be a 10 or 15 year age difference between the actor and the character.

2005 Pride and Prejudice 

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland), Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Judi Dench)

Pros: This is a well put together movie. Director Joe Wright and screen writer Deborah Moggach created a very marketable movie that appeals to all, not just the Janeite fandom community. As Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, Knightley and MacFadyen are both age appropriate and effective in their roles. This was my first real introduction, not just to Pride and Prejudice, but to Miss Austen as well. It works as a gateway to the other novels and overall Janeite fandom.

Cons: It is a 2 hour movie. The difference in making a 2 hour movie versus a 6 hour miniseries is that sometimes story lines have to be condensed and characters have to be cut out.

In conclusion, the winner is…. The 1995 miniseries

 

 

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The Wait

*-These characters belong to Miss Austen; I am simply a humble admirer. The only character that I have created is Bennet Fitzwilliam Darcy.

The Wait

The wait was becoming too much for Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Lizzy’s labor pains started just after lunch, the sun had already set and the child had yet to enter the world.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet were the only members of the family who had arrived before the birth of the newest member of the Darcy family, the rest of the family would be coming in the next day or so. The only member of the family who declared that she would never go through Pemberley’s doors was Lady Catherine DeBourgh, Mr. Darcy’s maternal aunt. In the nearly three years since her nephew had married Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine had never acknowledged Elizabeth as her niece and in turn, would never acknowledge Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam’s children as family.

“Son, if you continue to walk in that same circle, you will find yourself on the floor” his father in law warned.

Mr. Bennet understood his son in law’s trepidation, the anxiety on the younger man’s face.

“Lizzy is young and strong, I see no reason why she shouldn’t bring a healthy child into the world”.

In his mind, Fitzwilliam was not a grown, married man of one and thirty, waiting for the birth of his first child, but a boy of twelve, watching his father pace around the room with same ferociousness.

His sister, Georgiana was born healthy, but Lady Anne was never the same. She lingered for six months before her body gave out. Loosing his mother was a watershed moment in his then young life, but to loose Lizzy would surely break him.

At the moment when Fitzwilliam could not wait another moment, the creaking of the door announced that Georgiana had entered with a broad smile on her face.

“Come meet your son, Fitzwilliam”.

Bounding up the stairs with his father in law and his sister behind him, Fitzwilliam did not stop until he reached his bedroom.

In the middle of the bed, a sweaty and tired Lizzy, gently held a small bundle her arms.

“Say hello to your papa” taking his son in his arms, Fitzwilliam couldn’t help but be amazed at miracle of life.

“What shall we name him?”.

“Bennet Fitzwilliam Darcy”.

Kissing his young son’s forehead, Fitzwilliam felt a love that he had never known before. This was his son, his heir. The wait was over, but the journey into parenthood had begun.

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