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The Bennets - Experts in the Field of Inter-Family Conflict Avoidance

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The Bennets:

Experts in the Field of Inter-Family Conflict Avoidance

Father looks across the dinner table and kindly asks his darling wife to pass the dinner rolls while Suzie is lovingly telling about her second grade teacher's neat handwriting. The linen tablecloth is firmly pressed and the home-cooked meal is thankfully devoured. The yellow-checkered dinner plates are freshly washed, and the smell of lilacs from the garden drifts through the sunlit dining room. Billy smiles at his mother as he asks her if he could please have some more of her "deliciously home grown asparagus." Mother nods to Billy and passes him the serving dish. When the family has had their fill, Suzie volunteers to do the dishes and Billy habitually clears the table and brings each of his parents a glass of dessert wine. Mother and Father then proceed to enjoy their wine as they talk of Beethoven and Monet.

This is a family without conflicts. Everybody dreams of one, nobody has one. It is impossible, and makes for a very unrealistic, and also a very boring, story. An imperfect family can be used in literature in order to make fiction believable and often more relative to the reader. By showing a character's flaws, the author can add texture and depth to a story. Jane Austen definitely uses this idea in her famous novel: Pride and Prejudice. Not one of her characters is perfect. These flaws add drama to the plot in the same way that dressing adds flavor to a salad. The weaknesses of one character often foil the strengths of another: Lydia's goofy foolishness has the affect of bringing out the sense and patience of Jane and Elizabeth. Mr. Wickham's false personality and immoral behavior toward the Bennets proves Mr. Darcy's truthfulness and emphasizes his kind and thoughtful personality.

Although faults often bring out the best in literature, a psychologist would suggest that the Bennets need some severe family counseling. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet should never have been married; they contradict the idea that opposites attract. Mr. Bennet had married because he was "captivated by youth and beauty, and [the] appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give..." (201) He married for the wrong reasons and suffers the consequences of his choice. Mrs. Bennet is described as an ignorant woman with weak understanding and an illiberal mind. Mr. Bennet is unhappy with the relationship as soon as the physical attraction wears off. Usually, when attraction and respect disappear from a marriage one, or sometimes both, of the people involved in the marriage will become overtly or covertly hostile toward his or her spouse. In the beginning of chapter 42 Mr. Bennet states that his wife's "ignorance and folly contributed to his amusement." (201) He provides himself with this amusement frequently through sarcasm and satirical remarks, which Mrs. Bennet is often too dim-witted to detect. Her stupidity prevents overt hostility between herself and Mr. Bennet, and she is too oblivious to the predicament to have any sort of resentment toward Mr. Bennet. Consequently, the problem has no immediate need for a solution. "All [Mr. Bennet's] views of domestic happiness were overthrown." (201) He spent most of his time surrounded by his books in his study, or in the countryside around his house. It is very typical of a husband in such a relationship as Mr. Bennet to become very silent and solitary. Mr. Bennet's behavior will keep the surface of the water smooth, even though he is trying not to



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