I see no occasion for that. You and the girls may go—or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better; for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley might like you the best of the party.

Mr. Bennet’s joking lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Bingley’s arrival sets up his dynamic with Mrs. Bennet. He knows that his wife’s excessive concerns about his daughters’ marriages stems from anxiety about their futures, but he acts as if he does not take her worry seriously. Nevertheless, he is the first in the neighborhood to call on Mr. Bingley, which suggests he merely feigns disinterest. Thus, it seems that he intentionally goads Mrs. Bennet into a frenzy for his own amusement. From this interaction, we see that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are emotionally ill-suited for each other.

Mr. Bennet’s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped; and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, . . . and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.


Mr. Bennet’s delight and amusement at his cousin’s ridiculousness calls to mind Elizabeth’s perverse delight in being able to tell others about Mr. Darcy’s rudeness. Both enjoy seeing themselves as being good judges of character and take delight in poking fun at rudeness or stupidity. This similarity between them shows why Elizabeth is Mr. Bennet’s favorite. However, Mr. Bennet’s apparent enjoyment of Mr. Collins’s visit also shows how disconnected Mr. Bennet is from his family’s material realities. While he can laugh at Mr. Collins, Mr. Collins ultimately will hold power over the Bennet women’s future.

Wherever you and Jane are known, you must be respected and valued; and you will not appear to less advantage for having a couple of . . . very silly sisters. We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go, then.


Mr. Bennet’s lackadaisical reaction to Lydia’s desire to go to Brighton epitomizes his faults as a parent. Mr. Bennet only cares about what interests him and retreats from or mocks what doesn't. Therefore, he erroneously assumes that Lydia’s behavior cannot affect her sisters’ reputations because he considers Lydia’s behavior silly and therefore beneath notice. Furthermore, as a father, it is Mr. Bennet’s job to guide Lydia, not leave her to her own devices simply because he finds her annoying. His failure to parent here helps set Lydia up for ruin.

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. . . . My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.

Mr. Bennet’s worries about Elizabeth’s happiness show a tender, fatherly side to him, and emphasizes his love for Elizabeth. Over the course of the novel, the narrator mentions that Mr. Bennet has not found joy in his marriage because he and Mrs. Bennet are not intellectual equals. That he doesn’t want Elizabeth to suffer the same fate shows both self-reflection and paternal love. In addition, Mr. Bennet tends to deflect away from his feelings, as when he tells Elizabeth not to express condolences for Lydia’s marriage. His vulnerability here shows how important Elizabeth’s happiness is to him.