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‘An Excellent Father’ is an excerpt taken from Jane Austen’s classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’. The scene is taken from the beginning of the novel when Mr. Bingley, a wealthy gentleman, takes residence in the long time vacant Netherfield Park. Mrs. Bennet, mother to five daughters, is beyond delighted upon hearing this and aims to make a match.
About the Author:
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was a notable English novelist. Her novels are considered to be classics up to date. A note worthy fact is that her novels were predominantly women-centric. Famous works of her include ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Emma’.
The theme of this extract revolves around the idea of marriage. Mrs. Bennet spins grand designs upon an unsuspecting Mr. Bingley. She plans to marry one of her daughters to him, preferably Jane, upon knowing that he is a wealthy, eligible bachelor.
The extract begins with Mrs. Bennet excitedly asking her husband if he had heard that Netherfield Park had been occupied at last. When Mr. Bennet replies that he hadn’t, she narrates with great gusto what she herself had learned from Mrs. Long, a neighbour. A wealthy young man from the north of England by the name of Mr. Bingley was said to have taken it. It is the fact that he was unmarried that had sent Mrs. Bennet into such a state of frenzy.
Mrs. Bennet proceeds to state how she felt that he was a ‘fine thing’ for her daughters. When Mr. Bennet questions her on this, she explains how she felt that he would fall in love with one of their girls and marry her. Therefore, she insists that Mr. Bennet had to visit him in order to make his acquaintance. Mr. Bennet is flippant about this and refuses to do so, vexing Mrs. Bennet. She refuses to believe that Mrs. Long will introduce them for she felt that she was ‘selfish’. She then takes out her frustration on her daughters and husband, not knowing that Mr. Bennet was one of the first to have visited him!
An Excellent Father:
Having teased his wife enough, Mr. Bennet finally reveals that he had already visited him without their knowledge. He takes pleasure in watching their reaction to this news, his wife the most. Mrs. Bennet is ecstatic and calls him an ‘excellent father’, just as he jests and leaves.
This extract taken from the beginning of the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is crucial as it sets the premise for the entire novel. It also displays the mindset of the people at that time, how they were concerned with marrying their daughters to a well-off man. This can be seen in today’s scenario as well.