Saturday, April 20, 2013

In (Slight) Defense of Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet. I enjoy writing for her character because she is so silly and over the top. 

But, I wonder, if perhaps, Mrs. Bennet has not always been given fair credit for her efforts to marry off her daughters. Admittedly, her efforts on behalf of Lydia ended horribly, though in all fairness, even Elizabeth Bennet was fooled by Mr. Wickham. However, we shall save that debate for another day. 

Today, I want to talk about Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, and Jane Bennet and the wonderful tool in the writer's toolbox called "What if..."

Recall that when Mr. Collins arrived at Longbourn it was with the intention (however presumptuous) of picking out a bride from amongst his cousins, much as one might choose from a litter of puppies (at least in his mind). And, please further recollect that his first choice was Jane, but that Mrs. Bennet directed him toward Elizabeth because she believed that Jane was about to become engaged to Mr. Bingley. 

Here's the big What If...what if Mrs. Bennet had not re-directed Mr. Collins' great ardor (which was, of course, easily done because of his total lack of ardor other than for a wife, any old wife) from Jane to Elizabeth. 

Would Jane, sweet, accommodating, amiable Jane, have declined? And even if she had would she have been able to withstand Mr. Collins' persistence? 

Is there any passage in all of Pride and Prejudice where Jane does not do as she is either told or asked to do? 

Even in the face of life with Mr. Collins, could Jane have put her own desires above his? Or her mother's? 

I am not asserting that Mrs. Bennet cared whether any of her daughters would actually want to marry Mr. Collins, but if she had not been so certain that Mr. Bingley would propose to Jane, she might have been tempted to go for the sure thing of a proposal from Mr. Collins. 

And then where would that have lead? 

Uh oh...I think I might have an idea for another book. 

What do you think? 

1 comment:

  1. That's an excellent point, Violet. Jane most likely would have gone along with the plan, doe like all the way to the altar with Mr. Collins. Somehow I can't imagine Elizabeth standing by and watching however. Perhaps she would have interjected herself? Plead with her father as she did when Lizzy was heading to Brighton?


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