The paper “ A Mother’ s Love in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen" is a dramatic example of a book review on literature. In the novel "Pride and Prejudice" the focus of the story remains on a Victorian family with five daughters living relatively comfortably in the country. They are not rich, but they are able to keep a few housemaids and thus represent the emerging middle class of society. However, this was also a time when opportunities for women were restricted to marriage, governess or workhouse with only the first two options available to respectable girls. Competition for husbands was great and Mrs.
Bennett, the mother of the five girls, spends much of the novel obsessing about her daughters’ prospects. Mrs. Bennett’ s materialistic, selfish nature and strong desire to marry off her daughters is displayed in her response to the news about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. It is not surprising upon hearing the news that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have become engaged that Mrs. Bennett is overwhelmed with emotion. The passage that contains her initial response to the news occurs in chapter 17 (320-321) and is so full of exclamation marks that the author couldn’ t even finish a sentence before finding it necessary to insert another one. This is seen in her opening words: “ Lord bless me!
only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! ” (320). In this one sentence alone, there are four instances of exclamation marks, a punctuation tool that only rarely makes an appearance otherwise and expresses a level of emotion inconsistent with the controlled and polite society of upper class England at the time. In the entire passage of approximately 19 sentences (an arbitrary number depending upon whether one counts completion of thought or punctuation as the end of the thought), there are only seven that end with a period or question mark. This highlights Mrs.
Bennett’ s crass nature in her inability to remain within the proper bounds of emotional expression. It is a nature that had Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley concerned regarding whether either of her daughters were a suitable match, having accurately identified their mother as a materialistic social climber. Once she has expressed some of her initial excitement, Mrs.
Bennett begins to reveal the motivations behind this emotional outburst. “ My sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great you will be! What pin money; what jewels, what carriages you will have! ” (320). In referencing pin money, what would today perhaps be referred to more accurately as spending money, Mrs. Bennett is referring to one of the few financial freedoms women had and can therefore perhaps be said to be interested in her daughter’ s welfare had she stopped with this statement. However, there is no concern in this sentence for Lizzy’ s happiness or physical welfare, no wistful idea of her daughter moving away from her as was expressed with the removal of the frivolous and foolish Lydia, and no concern regarding the character of the man her daughter is to marry. It is the money and all the accoutrements that money suggests that are important to Mrs.
Bennett. This is emphasized again as she lists “ A house in town! Everything that is charming! ” (321) as among her daughter’ s future possessions. In comparing Lizzy’ s wealth to Jane’ s, “ Jane’ s is nothing to it – nothing at all” , Mrs.
Bennett reveals the competitive nature of the business of husband-hunting, making the entire affair seem sordid and grasping. Finally, the fact that Mrs. Bennett is so eager to forgive both Lizzy and Mr. Darcy their imagined wrongs simply because of the wealth they bring into the family fully reveals her selfishness. She fully forgives Lizzy for not marrying Mr. Collins, the pompous, small-minded clergyman who stands to inherit the Bennett home, and makes Lizzy her new favorite daughter. This is shown when she verbally reduces Jane’ s status to “ nothing at all” compared to “ how rich and great you [Lizzy] will be” (320-321). Although she hated Mr.
Darcy prior to Lizzy’ s announcement, she is quickly willing to forgive him based solely on his wealth and his willingness to marry her most difficult daughter. She concludes, “ Three daughters married! Ten thousand a year! ” , like checking off items on a to do list and begins to consider what she will do with all this time she is about to gain, “ What will become of me? I shall go distracted” (321).
She has done what she set out to do, married off her daughters and became associated with great wealth and now all that’ s left is for her to bask in the glory of her achievements. In reacting to Lizzy’ s news, Mrs. Bennett fully reveals her materialistic, selfish nature as she considers the benefits gained by the household. She does so with unseemly emotional outbursts that considers the wealth to be gained and the status achieved to the exclusion of any consideration for her daughter’ s happiness. She verbally ranks Lizzy as her new favorite child for having thus far managed to attract the richest husband and is perfectly willing to forgive anything she held against him simply on his willingness to marry her daughter. This is not out of happiness that her daughter is happy, but merely in the fact that she has one fewer daughters to try to marry off and he brings respect and money to the family. In the final sentences of the passage, she indicates, in ascending order, those things that are most important to her – marrying off her daughters, a great deal of money and herself.