Pride and Prejudice

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Mr. Bennet Character Analysis

Though a discerning, well-educated man, Mr. Bennet has made a bad marriage and is resigned to endure it. He is a good-hearted person, but fails his family by remaining sarcastically detached: everything is a joke to him. This leads to poor judgment, as when he does not interfere between Lydia and Wickham.

Mr. Bennet Quotes in Pride and Prejudice

The Pride and Prejudice quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Bennet or refer to Mr. Bennet. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice published in 2002.
Chapter 41 Quotes
Our importance, our respectability in the world must be affected by the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia's character. Excuse me—for I must speak plainly. If you, my dear father, will not take the trouble of checking her exuberant spirits, and of teaching her that her present pursuits are not to be the business of her life, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet (speaker), Mr. Bennet, Lydia Bennet
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

Lydia has accepted an invitation from Colonel Foster to join the regiment at Brighton. It is not considered proper for a young woman to run after soldiers in such a way: even Elizabeth, who is quick to flout societal pressure in other ways, recognizes how important it is for Lydia's and the family's reputation that she calm down and refrain from acting in such a way.

Mr. Bennet is a largely "hands-off" father: that is, tucked away behind his newspaper, he lets things unfold as they will, without seeking to interfere in them in any way. Here Elizabeth begs him to reconsider this parenting strategy. She knows that if Lydia is allowed to do whatever she likes, she will never learn to to act properly, and soon she will be set in her ways - there is only a small window of time left. Elizabeth has taken it upon herself to look after her family's reputation, since her father is, in her eyes, failing to lead the family as he should, and she knows that this decision will only further contribute to their appearance of inferiority in the eyes of others - as well as contributing to Lydia's sorry character.

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Chapter 48 Quotes
The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this ... They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family?
Related Characters: Mr. Collins (speaker), Mr. Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Collins has written a letter of condolences to the Bennet family, but he hardly seems to strike a tone of compassion or understanding. Instead, his attitude seems almost gleeful, as he carefully delineates just how Lydia's ruinous decision will affect not only her life, but also the prospects of each of her sisters.

Lady Catherine, of course, should be known to us by now as proud in the worst ways, acutely aware of subtle class differences and eager to maintain those differences in any way possible - without taking to account more significant (at least in Austen's view) elements of character and morality that should support, not compete with, class distinctions. That Mr. Collins has embraced such a viewpoint speaks, in one sense, to his own sense of pride: having been refused marriage by one of the Bennet sisters, he takes some satisfaction in seeing the family fall from grace. But his attitude is also meant to stand in for societal opinions in general. In this environment, great danger can stem from one young woman's careless actions. Marriage for these women is not just a frivolous matter; without other means of freedom, it determines what kind of lives they can hope to have, so anything that jeopardizes their marriage prospects must be treated with the utmost seriousness.

Chapter 57 Quotes
That is what makes it amusing. Had they fixed on any other man it would have been nothing; but his perfect indifference, and your pointed dislike, make it so delightfully absurd!
Related Characters: Mr. Bennet (speaker), Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy
Page Number: 344
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Bennet has called Elizabeth in to share with her a rumor that is going around about Elizabeth's and Darcy's possible engagement. Mr. Bennet thinks that such a thought is wild and hilarious. He is absolutely certain that Darcy has no interest in Elizabeth, and that the same is true from his daughter to Darcy. Mr. Bennet has largely stayed out of his daughter's love interests and affairs before, and he doesn't meddle in them now, but his comment reflects the fact that he does have an opinion on what goes on even if he doesn't interfere. 

Elizabeth is embarrassed that her father has miscalculated so wildly. Like Elizabeth, in fact, he has judged the possible relation between her and Darcy and found there to be nothing that could possibly develop between them. Mr. Bennet's comment is thus meant to show once again how wrongheaded quick prejudice can be, not to mention painful for the parties involved.

Chapter 59 Quotes
I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage ... My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.
Related Characters: Mr. Bennet (speaker), Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet
Page Number: 356
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Bennet is initially shocked and confused when Elizabeth tells him the news of Darcy's proposal, and of her changing attitudes towards him. Indeed, his reaction and that of the entire Bennet family underline just how rare it is for someone's prejudices to change. But Mr. Bennet, unlike others, finds this change of heart a sign of Elizabeth's complexity of character, rather than of any kind of inconsistency.

Mr. Bennet has remained in the background for much of the novel. Here, though, we learn that he has a surprisingly nuanced understanding of what marriage means. He does not assume that men are naturally more intelligent and more witty than women: indeed, he clearly considers his daughter more clever and interesting than most. However, Mr. Bennet does see this quality as somewhat of a liability: he assumes that the man must always be considered superior in marriage, so the problem for Elizabeth becomes how she might find someone who is even more talented than she is. Mr. Bennet's remarks thus show a great deal of respect and care for his daughter, even as they also rely on certain assumptions about what an "equal" marriage entails that stem from sexist social realities.

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Mr. Bennet Character Timeline in Pride and Prejudice

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Bennet appears in Pride and Prejudice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...day in their modest house in Longbourn, Mrs. Bennet shares some news with her husband, Mr. Bennet . A wealthy young gentleman, Charles Bingley, has just rented the nearby estate of Netherfield.... (full context)
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Mrs. Bennet asks her husband to get them an introduction. Mr. Bennet purposely frustrates his wife by sarcastically replying that he'll write to give his consent for... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Without telling his family, Mr. Bennet visits Bingley. Back at home, Mr. Bennet teases his family by pretending to be uninterested... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Mr. Bingley pays a return visit to Mr. Bennet and is subsequently invited to dinner at Longbourn. Elaborate plans are made, but Bingley breaks... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...They make frequent visits to Mrs. Philips to learn all they can about the officers. Mr. Bennet dismisses the girls as incredibly silly. (full context)
Chapter 12
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Though Mrs. Bennet is disappointed that Jane and Elizabeth didn't stay, Mr. Bennet is glad to have them back. He had missed their conversation amid Kitty and Lydia's... (full context)
Chapter 13
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The next morning, Mr. Bennet reveals to his family that they will have a surprise guest: Mr. Collins, the relative... (full context)
Chapter 14
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After dinner, Mr. Bennet gets Mr. Collins talking about his favorite subjects: his benefactress, Lady Catherine De Bourgh; her... (full context)
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Mr. Bennet invites Mr. Collins to read to the ladies. Offered a novel, Mr. Collins flinches in... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...congratulate Mr. Collins but is shocked to hear that Elizabeth refused him. She runs to Mr. Bennet and demands that he convince his daughter to accept. (full context)
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Mr. Bennet calmly calls in Elizabeth and, relishing the moment, tells her: "Your mother will never see... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Wickham occasionally visits and his pleasant company helps to dispel the gloom. Mr. Bennet encourages Elizabeth in her pursuit of Wickham. (full context)
Chapter 39
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When they arrive home, Mr. Bennet is glad to see Elizabeth and Jane, Mrs. Bennet wants to hear about the latest... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...the wife of Colonel Foster to come with the regiment to Brighton. Elizabeth secretly asks Mr. Bennet to stop Lydia from going. Elizabeth urges him to realize how Lydia's flirty foolishness will... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Elizabeth reflects on her disappointment regarding her parents' marriage. After Mr. Bennet realized he married a foolish woman, he sought comfort in his library and in making... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...at all, and that the two of them were now in London. The colonel and Mr. Bennet have gone there to search; Mrs. Bennet is a nervous wreck. Jane asks Elizabeth to... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner search hotels in London to no avail. Mr. Gardiner suggests that Elizabeth... (full context)
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More time passes, but all attempts to find Wickham and Lydia fail, and Mr. Bennet returns home. He asks Elizabeth not to talk with him about Lydia, saying that he... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Mr. Bennet says he strongly suspects that Mr. Gardiner has already paid Wickham much more. Wickham would... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...and that Lydia hopes they can visit Longbourn on their way. Elizabeth and Jane convince Mr. Bennet , who wants nothing to do with Lydia or Wickham, to let the new couple... (full context)
Chapter 55
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...but Jane from the room. Nothing happens. The next morning, Bingley returns to shoot with Mr. Bennet . When Bingley comes inside, Mrs. Bennet again empties the room. Elizabeth returns from writing... (full context)
Chapter 57
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The next morning, Mr. Bennet calls in Elizabeth to congratulate her on her upcoming engagement. Elizabeth is stunned. Mr. Bennet... (full context)
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Mr. Bennet thinks the rumor about Elizabeth and Darcy is hilarious because he is certain that Elizabeth... (full context)
Chapter 59
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Later Darcy visits Mr. Bennet in private to ask his consent to marry Elizabeth. Mr. Bennet calls in Elizabeth. He's... (full context)
Chapter 60
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Elizabeth writes to tell Mrs. Gardiner of her engagement, as does Darcy to Lady Catherine. Mr. Bennet writes to Mr. Collins who, along with Charlotte, soon return to town to congratulate the... (full context)
Chapter 61
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...an estate near Elizabeth and Darcy at Pemberley. Mrs. Bennet, extremely proud, visits them often. Mr. Bennet misses Elizabeth and visits frequently, too. Kitty improves in character from spending time with her... (full context)