P&P: Behind the Scenes – Mr. Bennet at the Netherfield Ball — 21 Comments

  1. What had he done??? Nothing that he was supposed to do.

    This is an excellent portrait of the negligent, lazy Mr Bennet. (Why he thinks he’s so smart is a mystery.)

  2. I think Mr. Bennet is a perfect example of how the social strictures of landed gentry could strangle a man similarly as it could a woman–with no outlet for his intellect and the need to marry and raise children, even smart, witty men could turn to indolence, finding outlets for their intellect only in making sport of others. Bennet would have been a good scholar at university, I’m sure…but not such a great landowner.

    • I could see him being a good scholar, but I could see him making sport of his students too. 🙂 You have to wonder if he found being a landowner tedious and boring. I could see him feeling that way and that was why he neglected things. Thanks, Beth!

    • He certainly does! We know he does very little at the ball, so it was fun to think of how someone with a wit and did not seem to enjoy company would view the ball. Thanks, Michelle!

  3. You’ve really brought out the can’t be bothered-ness of Mr Bennet very well Leslie. Even when he does eventually decide to act, he chooses the easiest option – getting Mary to come away from the pianoforte. One, he knows she will comply, and secondly, without a fuss.

    I’ve wondered at what kind of relationship Mr Bennet and Darcy would have after his and Lizzy’s wedding. Darcy is intelligent and scholarly, like his father in law, but would the indolence and apathy of Mr Bennet drive him to distraction?

    • I do believe Darcy would tolerate Mr. Bennet for the sake of his wife, but I can’t see them being the best of friends. I would hope that Lydia’s elopement did change Mr. Bennet to some extent–that he was more mindful of his daughter’s and their behaviour after. Thanks, HelenJC!

  4. Mr. Bennet’s unwillingness to do anything to curb the excesses of his family are certainly blameworthy, both at the Netherfield ball and definitely beforehand. He bemoans having a wife with no sense of economy, yet who holds the purse strings in the family? The one time he does intercede, he does so badly…although he thought that he had finally helped to mitigate Lizzy’s embarrassment.

    But it’s his willingness to allow himself to be amused at Lizzy’s expense regarding Mr. Collins, his unwillingness to curb Lydia and Kitty (or even allow such “silly girls” to attend), and most of all, to refuse to teach his wife any kind of economy or decorum–these are the main areas in which he is to blame. We see his selfishness and his indolence very clearly in this vignette.

    Excellent and insightful writing, Leslie!!

    Susanne 🙂

    • I love Mr. Bennet’s wit, but it’s easy for me to be critical of him as a father. For whatever reason, he has chosen the easy route and allows the sisters after Elizabeth free rein. I think quite a few people want Mr. Bennet to be this perfect father when it comes to Elizabeth, but while I find him humorous, he is far from ideal! Thanks so much, Susanne!

  5. Great scene! I had not considered before that Mr. B would have noticed Lizzy’s embarrassment multiple times during the evening and that his chastisement of Mary was to assuage his guilt in not doing more. Interesting insight!

    • I don’t know about assuaging his guilt. He knew he would have no peace if he didn’t stop Mary from playing. Lizzy would give him grief. That was self-preservation on his part! He wanted his peace and quiet when they returned to Longbourn! Thanks, TLeighF!

  6. I agree with previous posts regarding Mr Bennet’s character, you have demonstrated it so very well. I look forward to each installment of this series. They are all so well written and have such intriguing insights. That they are written by so many different authors is remarkable. There is both consistency of approach and variation of concepts. I hope that an actual volume of this blog is eventually published. Perfect to curl up with before falling asleep!

    • What lovely compliments! Thank you! These stories will be published in a nice large volume for everyone to have on their bookshelf. 🙂 So you can plan on having your very own copy. Thanks, Sue!

  7. Mr. Bennet has just given up. Maybe he’s tried in the past. He seems very unhappy with his life, except for his Lizzy. He’d rather stay in his man cave and read….In some ways I feel sorry for him, but I feel sorrier for Lizzy. How mortifying. Very well done. I feel as if I was standing there watching this scene.

  8. Yes, if he had taken his wife in hand from the beginning, he would not be regretting this evening. Shame on him for not being the man he should have been. This will costs him greatly later to his family’s everlasting shame.

    • Taken her in hand and perhaps not dismissed her. Even in canon, he is dismissive of her and belittles her. It would do nothing positive for her nerves to have a husband who is that way. Thanks, Patty!

  9. Delightful excerpt from the point of view of someone we do not often consider! This makes it very difficult to respect Mr. Bennet. One wonders about him – he’ll stop one daughter from playing music, but not take action to keep officers from leering at another daughter??! Yet I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone’s reputation being ruined from music!! Too bad for Lizzy and Jane that he does not exert more effort. Thank you for this wonderful insight.

    • I think he was less likely to get backlash from Mary than Lydia and Kitty to be honest. He says about Brighton that there will be no peace unless Lydia is allowed to go. I don’t think he’s considering reputations as much as his own comfort in the days to come. Thanks, Sheryl!

  10. As other have observed Mr. Bennet is indolent. He only wants to sit in his library and read. Yes, he likes to find humor in his neighbor’s behavior but then takes no steps while they laugh at him and his in turn. I have no respect for him. He makes no effort for the future happiness of even his favorite daughter…only his support when she turns down Collins. With a little economy he could have even added to the dowries. Tsk! Tsk!

    Well written. Thank you.

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