It's easy to rag on Mrs. Bennet, because Jane Austen does such a splendid job of making her a less-than-likable character. From the very first scene of the book, we know her to be a self-centered, shrill, husband-hunting sort of woman. I can't wholly blame her for the husband-hunting portion of her personality.
No, I'm not kidding. The woman was a mother to five girls; that must estrogen in one house is bound to drive anyone mad. Hell, my own "poor nerves" get on top of me from time to time (as you all well know). Actually, I had such a moment a few days ago, leaving up to my 20th birthday.
There I was on the cusp of my 20th birthday, finally able to post a pic saying "I'm not one and twenty," and very much looking forward to my birthday (as most people do). But then my friends decided to suck.
I don't mean that my friends actually suck, but this year, my birthday has the unfortunate coincidence of falling on Mother's Day, which means the majority of my friends will be going home for the weekend, leaving me to fly solo for my "special day." I stated to spiral into the "I have no friends" pit, and you can guess the rest.
You can imagine how happy I was to get a text from one of my friends saying that her morning was free, and that she could go to Glam Doll, this super trendy vegan donut shop in Uptown, Minneapolis. And magically, I was out of my pit of self-pity, and everything was fine again. I'm not saying Mrs. Bennet is a rational human being, but at times, we're all a little irrational, right?
We need to be allowed to have our feelings. I'm constantly shouting this at my thick-headed brother, because making me cry once isn't enough apparently. When I first moved away from home and into a dingy, teeny college dorm room, I bawled my eyes out. You know how my brother comforted me? By telling me--and I quote--to "get over it."
You can imagine I had a few choice words to say in response to that.
Sometimes, other people don’t know how to respond to our hysteria–I get that. I’m just saying that there needs to be a person that you can go to who won’t make you feel worse about letting yourself cry. It’s a natural reaction. OMG, you feel sad–crying is not a reason to condemn someone, as is someone not knowing how to handle your crying.
I’ll admit, I cry a good amount, and at the stupidest things (usually). But when your own brother asks if you saw the Snap story of his super hot best friend (the one I’ve had a not-so-secret obsession with for 10+ years) because the girl he was out with was super hot, and then your brother proceeds to tell you that you’re clearly “Shit out of luck” if that’s his type, how was I supposed to react? Not be offended that my brother is openly telling me I’m not pretty enough for his best friend? Seriously. Who says that to his little sister? But I’m over it, (clearly).
But other people don’t cry in front of me. I’m not sure if this is intentional, or just something that keeps happening. It’s truly only happened a handful of times, and in every single situation, there’s no good way to read how the cryer wants you to respond. I feel sorry for my mom, because she’s the one who has to deal with my blubbering–going to my brother for comfort is a mistake you only make once when his reaction is “get over it.”
Sensitivity with men is a touchy subject. When we were kids, my dad used to use the word “sensitive” so critically, it’s no wonder my brother struggles to deal with my tears. (Even though my dad is the one who cries watching theTitanic?)
I don’t want to get too off topic. I know mothers like Mrs. Bennet–controlling, unafraid to share her unwarranted opinion. My childhood best friend recently went through a dilemma in her relationship with a boyfriend of (now) two and a half years. He has only met her mother and sister once in this entire time, but the two of them go to the same university (45 minutes from her house), and she comes home about every single weekend. Does anyone else see something slightly wrong with that picture?
My friend explained to me that she knows that her mom doesn’t like/approve of her boyfriend (a fact that she decided to share with her boyfriend), and now he’s too nervous to spend time with her family. He wants to have his life figured out before he wants to answer a bunch of questions. While I understand and empathize with his dilemma, they’re in college–a time in which it’s socially acceptable not to have your life together. In my opinion, he’s a chicken and needs to man up, but I can’t help but feel disappointed that her mom isn’t more accepting.
Yes, my friend is her youngest child, her baby, so I can understand how it’s difficult to see her seriously date someone at the age of 21 (though we all saw how happy Mrs. Bennet was to have a daughter married at 15–but again, it was a different time). Even though my friend claims she’s serious about him, I can’t help but wonder how serious the relationship can be without much family involvement on either side. My friend is incredibly close with her mom and siblings; what does it say about her boyfriend if she can’t bring him around? What does it say about her mother? (Who can sometimes be a bit of a Judge Judy.)
All in all, I’m admitting that I can sympathize with Mrs. Bennet–words that I never thought would come out of my mouth (or keyboard, but you get the idea). She is on the very extreme end of a well-intentioned mother. Does she ever intentionally do anything to injure her girl’s feelings? Not that I can recall. She may not always say the right thing, and God knows she needs to learn to read a room and zip her lips, but not for one moment have I ever doubted her true love for her daughters. She did the best she could in a time when it was truly inconvenient to have five daughters and an estate entailed to a less-than-desirable cousin (and she still tried to marry off a daughter to him to “save her sisters”).
In my own search for Mr. Darcy, I’m glad my mom is very little like Mrs. Bennet. She’s always accepting when I bring boys home (grand total of two times, I believe?) But I do hope my mother will be as excited when/if/maybe? I ever tie the knot as Mrs. Bennet was when Jane was wooing Bingley.