In Defense of Mrs. Bennet

Okay, Mrs. Bennet is an airhead and an embarrassment to her daughters (the intelligent ones at least).  I mean, I wouldn’t want her for my mother.  However, unlike some of the other ridiculous characters in P&P I have a lot of sympathy for Mrs. B.  Really there’s no excuse for Lady Catherine’s behavior or Mr. Collins’ sniveling.  However, Mrs. Bennet has a very real basis for the concerns she expresses and the goals she espouses — although she goes about achieving her objectives in embarrassing and pushy ways. 

After all, if Mrs. Bennet were to die, Mrs. Bennet and the daughters would be homeless and virtually penniless — that’s what happens to the protagonists in Sense and Sensibility.  I’d be scared in her position as well–not just for myself, but for my children.  Since the daughters have no socially acceptable means of earning a living, they must marry and the sooner the better.  No wonder all of the girls are out in society!  It maximizes the family’s chances of finding a husband who can support one daughter–if not the whole family–in the event of Mr. Bennet’s death. 

So, for Mother’s Day, I will say–I can find it in my heart to excuse Mrs. Bennet’s pushiness and anxiety.  The hypochondria and complaining, on the other hand….Well, the less said the better.


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