What the Austen? Podcast

Episode 42: Mrs. Bennet, A Complex Portrait of Motherhood in Pride and Prejudice with Habiba from @habibareadsbooks

July 02, 2023 Episode 42
What the Austen? Podcast
Episode 42: Mrs. Bennet, A Complex Portrait of Motherhood in Pride and Prejudice with Habiba from @habibareadsbooks
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode I am joined by Habiba @habibareadsbooks to discuss the Pride & Prejudices Mrs. Bennet. A character who indeed has a multifaceted personality that elicits a range of emotions from readers.

In this episode we explore her character in more detail, acknowledging both her humorous aspects and the challenges she faces as a mother of five unmarried daughters. We also look at the ways in which Mrs. Bennet is similar to some South Asian Mums and Grans, standing as a true matriarch at times. Habiba touches on her own experiences, and how Pride and Prejudice relates closely to both her Pakistani traditions and Desi culture as a whole.

Thanks again to our sponsor Haus of Bennet: https://hausofbennet.com/ Use code whatthediscount at the checkout for 15% off! and you will also be supporting the Podcast 🤍

This podcast is about Janeites coming together, discussing Jane Austen's work, and having a few laughs along the way. 

We really enjoyed making this episode and we hope you like it! 

Please follow and subscribe to keep up with all the upcoming episodes.

Where can you find Habiba?   
Instagram: @habibareadsbooks

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Izzy:

Hi,a , e welcome back to the What the Austin podcast. Today I'm joined by the lovely Habiba from the Bookstagram page. Habiba Reads Books, so welcome, habiba, it's great to have you on the podcast.

Habiba:

Yeah, hi everyone, i'm looking forward to recording this episode.

Izzy:

I know we've had this. this has been like in the diary a long time, so we've definitely been here, yeah, yeah, finally. I know finally we've got here, which is amazing. So the question that I ask all of my guests is what got you into Jane Austin originally?

Habiba:

I think my story is a bit boring because we did Pride and Prejudice for GCSEs So that was how I got into it And it was actually, i think, my second classic book I'd ever read like English classic. So yeah, there I was studying it And then our teacher was very enthusiastic and very passionate And then she obviously we watched the whole of the 1995, the TV show, yeah, and then we all just literally I remember even like our science teacher popped in to see the Darcy Lake scene. I mean, yeah, getting drenched scene, yeah, but yeah, that was it. And I think I really connected with, obviously, elizabeth and generally because I've always kind of wanted to be a writer, so I loved the witty rapport that Jane Austin did like with her characters. That that was the thing. That was like, yeah, you know what I really love this And I didn't care about my exams, i just care about the book. I was just like, but yeah, that was the kind of like my Jane Austin story And yeah, it was actually Pride and Prejudice.

Izzy:

I love that. You know it's not a bad one to start with. It's definitely interesting, though you know I'm so good at. I never got to study Pride and Prejudice at school. I don't know. Like, maybe that's, you know, a good thing for the rest of the people who are in my class, because, can you imagine, this is my area.

Habiba:

Yeah, plus, there's always like a danger, you know, when you get introduced to something as you know in school, then you might end up hating it. So it's a good thing that you didn't get into it from school.

Izzy:

That is so true. to be fair, like when you're analyzing every little thing and like some of the stuff like that's a little bit too deep, i think, for this book. I agree, i think sometimes it can be a little bit too intense. and going through everything like line by line, chapter by chapter, yeah much. but if you've got a good English teacher I think it makes a world of difference.

Habiba:

Exactly Yeah.

Izzy:

That's amazing. So in today's episode, what we thought we'd do is a Mrs Bennett character study. So we're going to look at a character in me and Habiba were chatting about this, but we've kind of got loads of different thoughts on Mrs Bennett this time, i think initially I always just thought it was like a humorous character, but then on this, like you know, looking at it for this episode, i've just like got so many more ideas. I think you're the same. Have you brought?

Habiba:

it, yeah. Yeah, we've kind of gone a bit deep, haven't we? Like, we've looked at things, you know, from different, like cultural points of view as well, which hopefully will be interesting.

Izzy:

Yeah, absolutely So. I think probably the best place to start is actually how she's introduced to the text, like right off the bat, because I feel like even the first line, which is like obviously iconic, saying like it's a true university knowledge that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be on to a wife, and then it also says about the fact that men who come to the neighborhood are like considered property of these mom's daughters, like even before they've met there, yeah, yeah.

Izzy:

Fascinating, like what the book opens, basically with Mrs Bennett's perspective on life.

Habiba:

Yeah, that's literally what I was about to say, that it begins with Mrs Bennett's perspective, like it begins with what she would have thought And kind of like. I feel like it establishes her as quite a strong character And it gives the reader like something to kind of like. I suppose it challenges the reader like what do you think? What do you think about this? right, and then she starts off with another letter at last and you know, we're just like. they're like okay, what's up with this?

Izzy:

Yeah, it's so true. It's like you don't know whether or not it's being like sarcastic and funny and just like making fun of the situation, but then you also know that, like, this is obviously going to be a significant part of the book, like marriage is going to be significant in this story.

Izzy:

Yeah, i love that as well, that it's like right off the back Mrs Bennett like coming in with like I need to tell you what's going on. A lot of Mrs Bennett's character is this like gossiping and just knowing what's going on in her like town.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, and I was just about to say like how funny it is, because it's like her conversation with Mr Bennett and he's just the most blase character you could ever get. He's just there, like you know. I can just imagine him pottering about in his library And he just doesn't care, whereas she's just there like in full on energy mode, like you know, so funny.

Izzy:

Like this is my time to shine. This is what. I understand about the world, which I think is really interesting, because I feel like once you are married, you're going to be like you know, Like your focus then is to get your daughters married. Like that is her like prime goal. She's not really interested in much else. I think later in the book it even says like as soon as Jane turned 16. That was like her main purpose in life. It was like getting her daughter married.

Habiba:

Yeah, it's cool because she's literally such a singular character, singularly minded character that She just she doesn't have like a character character developer really, and it's amazing actually. You know, it kind of pulls everything together, is like you know, lizzie, obviously she changes, lydia changes. You know Darcy, who I'm sure we can say a lot about how missus Bennett feels about him. He changes, missus Bennett is just there, like You know, the same throughout this is, you know, obsession marriage, you know, obsessed with her daughter's looking good in front of everyone, even to the detriment of, like, the neighbors who are really good friends with them, is pretty funny.

Izzy:

Yeah, i think you need such a good point there as well, because the book starts out with missus Bennett that missus Bennett. In the last chapter, the first couple of lines are dedicated to missus Bennett as well. It basically says, like You would have hoped that because both of her daughters married so well that it would change her like stance on life, but it literally says it didn't. She's still, like occasionally, super nervous.

Habiba:

Yeah, it just makes you think. well, you know who was Jane Austen annoyed with to have to paint this kind of character?

Izzy:

I know it makes you think about Jane Austen's mom. Like was she like this because it's kind of hard to believe that both of her daughters didn't marry in the end? it's like what she likes.

Habiba:

I can't even imagine. Exactly yeah.

Izzy:

I also think as well back on like kind of the gossip inside of missus Bennett. I was actually astounded of how kind of socially savvy she is. There's like a moment when Mr Collins comes to tea and he's talking about and a bag and he's like I didn't see. And missus Bennett says to Mr Collins, like I didn't see her in the The announcement, for who's it cool, is she not in court? and I was like on it and she's so, she's so nosey.

Habiba:

You can just imagine you know obviously we have to bring Bridgetton into this you can imagine that she would do the first one to read the, what you call it, the pamphlet. Yeah.

Izzy:

It's literally what she wants to know, what's going on with everyone and also what gets me about as well. she's not shy about saying her comments, like other people, which I kind of love, because I think she's so proud and loves her family that much that she's like no one beats my family.

Habiba:

Yeah, exactly, do you know? what's funny is that she's literally like how a lot of Pakistani moms are an Arab moms. They literally like that. They have no chill. They literally Like okay, my mom, i can actually imagine not to that extent, yeah, my mom bless her, she's a bit shy, but I can just imagine her just saying, oh, yeah, well, so my daughter is like this and that, and my son is like this and that. What about yours? you know, i could just imagine it happening. And also like they ask it and they ask like others and such a like, patronizing myself so what about? you know so, and so did they end up finishing their degree or something like that? you know, like It might be something that they know has happened.

Izzy:

Yeah, And that's something that we were chatting about a lot like before we came on the episode, because, yeah, I think it is like totally significant that actually there are a lot of traditions and cultures where Mrs Bennett is not an obscurity like she is like you know People that you know, the end of the day I think is like super interesting to think about as well. And I think why, because I think you, obviously that article that I read a few years back actually, but where it was saying like Why Mrs Bennett and just pride and prejudice in general is so significant and kind of South Asia and everything, i was like you are so true and so many of my friends have said the exact same thing that you have Literally just like that is my mom Yeah.

Izzy:

Yeah.

Habiba:

Like she generally. Mrs Bennett actually is actually more like my paternal grandma, like my paternal grandma is this little old thing, but she has a massive personality and she also she'd say anything to anyone. You know she, it doesn't matter literally I can just imagine her meeting of literally the queen Sorry, the king and being like oh yes, so, by the way, you know what's happening with your son's or something I don't know. I can just imagine she wouldn't care.

Izzy:

I love that. But that is not the great thing about Mrs Bennett as well, that like she doesn't care that Mr Darcy, everyone's like Mr Darcy's this wealthy, like you know a prestigious guy, and she's just like no, i love the point that she makes out the like Sir William Lucas is like a better breeding because he actually like, has things to say and is really kind and she just said that she's drinking Mr Darcy's face.

Habiba:

Yeah, exactly, yeah, yeah, the whole whole. When there's the dinner and she's just going on and on about Jane as well and Darcy's just there, like getting more uncomfortable, mrs Bennett is just not stopping.

Izzy:

Like doesn't know what to say. She's also kind of harsh about some people, like whenever she talks about Charlotte Lucas I don't know if you notice and she was like Charlotte Lucas is so plain and then everyone else is like she's not that bad, but my legs are getting better. She's plain like Not like my Jane, and then it's like Jane's just that embarrassed, like oh my god no.

Habiba:

Bless Jane.

Izzy:

I know I feel like Jane like takes on so much responsibility, like she wants her parents to be proud of. If she wants to, you know, marry well for her family.

Habiba:

Yeah, daughter syndrome right.

Izzy:

Yeah, and I don't think Mrs Bennett like realises the pressure that maybe she puts on Jane with like a constant, like shenanigans about everything.

Habiba:

Yeah, james, not getting the carriage.

Izzy:

She's gonna go on horseback like that scheming, where she's like you're gonna go and then I love that she never wants her to come back, where she keeps being like She can't come back yet she's too ill, and Jane and Elizabeth like I want to come home and she's like no, it can't, you can't come home until Tuesday. Yeah, exactly yes. The awesome mums that would go to that length. they're like look, i know what's best for you, this person's best for you, and we're gonna make it happen.

Habiba:

Yeah, i think she's a movie or a baker in that sense.

Habiba:

Let's talk about, i think, lydia, because it's quite funny. They're basically mirror images of each other, but Lydia's actually allowed to, i suppose, express herself and do things, which perhaps you know. I remember Mrs Bennett says you know, i used to like a red coat myself, you know. So that there's a bit of that where she's she's not able to do what Lydia is, but then She fully like, encourages her, and she's just like yeah, you know, lydia, go off and, you know, have fun. And you know it's quite modern if you think about it, she's, she's not, she's not on the one hand, she's like pushing for marriage. On the other hand she's like, yeah, you know, but let's be a bit kind of modern about it and Lydia, go off and choose someone yourself, or maybe even just have fun. You know she's. She's not really questioning Lydia about what she's doing.

Izzy:

Isn't that so interesting, as like such a difference with how she treats like the old daughters, where she's like you've got to marry, well, it's gonna be good, like I'm gonna sort it, i'm gonna scheme it for you. and then she is so chill with Lydia I don't know if it's because she sees herself and Lydia and she's like I don't get to have anymore, i'll live vicariously for you know, no one has compassion on my nerves, you know, and this is all because I was allowed to have fun myself, you know.

Habiba:

So let Lydia have the fun instead.

Izzy:

Yeah, literally, and also it might come into like some regrets that she also has about marry Mr Bennett, because I think the book makes it really clear that obviously Mr Bennett married Mrs Bennett for her looks alone really, and then realize that they have nothing in common. It's really strange as well because Mr Bennett obviously is really witty, likes to think about things on like a deeper level, you know, and likes to read and all of it, and Mrs Bennett can't even get a head around the entailment system, let alone anything else like yeah, specialty is society and that's something that Mr Bennett just doesn't care about.

Habiba:

He just wants his library, like when Mr Collins comes, but Mr Bennett is upset because he's like I just wanted my library by myself.

Izzy:

He's like staying in the library with him and he's like she's just like, oh my gosh, please leave. like, why are you in my space?

Habiba:

It's interesting because that that kind of made me think. Well, mrs Bennett does sort of understand her husband because she gives him that space. You know, if he's upset about Mr Collins taking up that space, that means that she must give it. You know, it's like she's actually come to a tacit agreement with him that, yep, that's your space. And you know, she actually upholds it like she doesn't encroach on his space, does she? so I think that's interesting.

Izzy:

That's true. Actually, i think the books that tries to kind of sometimes emphasize like the ways in which it doesn't work, but I think they actually have a good balance where she is interested in the social things and is concerned about her daughter's marrying, which at the end of the day, because the estates entailed away, like her anxieties around that are not unfounded like she's scared they're going to be like destitute, you know, and so I can kind of get why she's like worried about it. At the end of the day, in compared to Mr Bennett, she does actually like get things done, doesn't she?

Habiba:

exactly. You know, that's also the bit where she goes, and i met mr dorsy and he was probably the worst person i've ever met. Mr benet, i wish you were there, because you would have been savage to him like you would have. You know, put him down, put him in space. I thought that was really funny, and she does get she does go.

Izzy:

I love that she's so protective of her own society in proud of her society.

Habiba:

I don't think that's a bad thing yeah, because, um, she says something like we see four and twenty families, you know, so you know we have a very thriving society up here. Dorsy is just and big news, or um, dorsy's just. They're like what is this woman and it is with us? just get and jane, they're both getting so embarrassed they're thinking mom, please just be quiet i know, but i kind of love her for that.

Izzy:

I love that she's like yeah, i'm going to tell you that, meritan, we have stuff going on, you know. I think you should say what they've actually got going for them. And i kind of love that she does big jane up. Well, she's like my daughter is the most beautiful in the town and i just i mean that would be so embarrassing. I'd honestly die inside if my mom said that at the same time, mr bingley does end up going for jane in the end and i think a lot of it is they're both so shy that i feel like they would have struggled to come to that alone.

Habiba:

I think mrs benet's influence does make a big difference yeah, mrs benet used her karmic energy to kind of like push it forward they kind of run to each other for safety.

Izzy:

They're like, oh my gosh, let's just, let's make this work, because we can't handle your mother's crazy. Yeah, i think something that we were touching on as well when we were chatting prior, though, is there are aspects of like mrs benet is quite sad, like i think she maybe is quite lonely, and that's why she often gossips in.

Habiba:

I think it does maybe stem from some insecurities that if her family, well, her daughters don't marry well, it's like a bit of a crisis for them there's a bit when, after elizabeth rejects mr collins and mrs benet talks to probably one of the most sensible people in the whole book and that's charlotte right, and she says basically that i'm on my own, nobody cares about me, and i thought that was really sad.

Habiba:

She's like no one sees it from my point of view and it links to you know, what you were saying before, that she's really worried about them, perhaps, you know, falling into destitution or something. And it makes you sad because if mr benet had been kind of like working with her because you know he's her life partner, then there wouldn't have been that kind of like loneliness, like even if they had a clash of characters or whatever, if they've been working together on trying to get their daughters married into good families or married to a good person, then she wouldn't have perhaps felt so alone. She probably feels like both of my eldest daughters are not in the position that i thought they would be like. You know, the start of the book she was quite, you know, hyper, but you know, at this point she's like you know, what am i supposed to do? you know, i feel so alone and i felt kind of sad that she's not able to talk to her own family about it. She ends up talking to charlotte instead yeah, that's so interesting as well.

Izzy:

And also, i think, unfortunately, because she's like a woman, she doesn't have like the power to just go and like meet, she has to have mr benet going to introduce them to other people, or other men have to introduce them, so she's like also kind of restricted on the influence she can actually have on the situation, which must give you so much anxiety because you can't do something yourself about it, even if you know what needs to be done yeah, yeah.

Habiba:

It's like at the start of the book and she says to mr benet, you need to go to netherfield. And he's just there, like why? you know? what's it got to do with me? and she's like no, don't you know that? you know we need to get our daughters married, and you know. And he just makes fun of me. He's like is that his design, you know? and she's like you know what are you saying? she's probably like you know who am i dealing with literally.

Izzy:

Yeah, i think that's the probably one of the reasons that she gets so nervous and gets like so much anxiety about it all, because i think she has a lot of pressure but can't relieve her own pressure in. I think that maybe started like the more children that they have but continue to not have a son, because that's a lot of pressure on her as well, like that she's never having this son. And then she's like, oh my gosh, what we're gonna do now.

Habiba:

And i've got like five daughters exactly, yeah, and you know all of this stuff that she says about.

Habiba:

You know her nerves, you know it's probably valid that she does feel like her nerves are strained constantly because she's having to think about this, her daughter's futures, all the time and you know, and she's been having to do the work for both parents, for mother and father. So even though mr benet obviously takes it pretty lightly and he gives his usual sardonic reply and say your nerves have been my friend of 23 years and i actually feel sorry for her at that point. And it's been an interesting read because my opinion on mrs benet it's so different to when i first read it. Like when i first read it i thought, oh, my god, just shut up, you know. And this time i was like, oh, poor woman, you know, just give us some slack, you know, help her out a little bit. You know all of them are there like wishy washy, like, oh, love all this, and that she's like being pragmatic. She's like there's certain things that in society that we have to deal with.

Izzy:

You know, i'm the only one who's actually looking at it yeah, and keeping tabs on what's going on, like she knows when people are coming into the neighborhood that they can like, yeah, meet up with and stuff.

Izzy:

Like she is keeping tabs on everything in.

Izzy:

Yeah, i agree, i think it is kind of sad that she is kind of put in this position and doesn't have any backup from anybody else and maybe, again, that's why she like really likes lidia, because when lidia comes back with wiccan after they've married, um, like lidia is saying like oh, mum, you can like come and visit me, and like we can do that together.

Izzy:

And it made me think, like actually i can imagine lidia is the one that she feels closest to, because they're so similar in personality and in traits and everything that maybe actually lidia was the only one that she felt she was heard by. And actually that's kind of sad, because mr benet does kind of just take the mick out of her all the time when actually she's literally trying to safeguard their future exactly, yeah, it's like kind of extreme and you can kind of see as well when the gardeners come, because she says you know, i'm really glad that you're here, and like that she's got this company and she does. It states that she likes having friends around and stuff and i thought you know, i thought it was more lonely than i kind of yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah, yeah.

Habiba:

And lidia is probably the only one who actually wants to spend time with her mum. Maybe that's. That's something that's pretty like sad as well. Like you know, you have all these daughters and you'd think, oh, you know, i have a lot of company, i have, you know, someone that's going to listen to me, someone that i can teach stuff to, but the daughters don't seem to want to. They just think she's very silly and they don't seem to want to kind of like learn anything from her or spend any time with her. And maybe if she was less stressed out or less, you know, feeling like she's on her own, maybe she wouldn't be as embarrassing as, you know, they think she is.

Izzy:

Maybe, you know, that's a possibility i agree, and also we've got to give us some credit like she's not done that bad of a job at the end of the day. They had no governess, they didn't go anywhere to school and she raised like five daughters on her own.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, bless her.

Izzy:

I think she's trying her best, but I agree, i feel like the first time I read it as well, i just kind of saw her for the embarrassing sides of it And I feel like the films really play into that as well, like the humorous side kind of more embarrassing side, because I feel like the film and the TV series I mean both actresses do a fabulous job of like they do play on, the more like embarrassed inside I think.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, i am. I noticed also something interesting that I've I watched the film for the first time recently. I'd always avoided it because I thought, you know, it's just absolutely rubbish. But I loved it Actually, maybe because I hadn't I hadn't watched the TV series in a long time. So I actually loved it because I think it got a sense of the book quite well. Like the atmosphere was built really well. That was what I felt like anyway.

Habiba:

And in the TV show I feel like Mrs Bennett is a lot is portrayed as a lot more kind of like elderly and quite hysterical and things like that. But in the movie I felt like she was more infantile, my girlish, you know. I found that really interesting. Like people have different, obviously, interpretations of her And I found those two different interpretations really interesting. That you know, in the, in the TV series she's very much that you know, that kind of like the woman left on the shelf now She's, she's, she's a crown or whatever You know, and she's always like talking about her nerves and stuff, whereas in the other one, like you really get to see that girlish side to. I don't know if that's something that you picked up on or.

Izzy:

Yeah, I think as well. I think she comes across a little bit more confident and powerful in that one as well, because I think, especially in the moment when Lizzie refuses Mr Collins, she's like you know, like you need to do this. This is like think about your whole family, This isn't just about you, Like you can't be selfish in this. And also with. Another bit that stands out to me is when they find out that Mr Bingley's coming back and she's not like weird about, she's like what's going on here, but it's like trying to keep her cool at the same time. I feel like she just has a little bit more gumption in that in the film. Yeah, I think she does have come across a little bit more fragile in the the BBC version compared to the film.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, I felt that as well.

Izzy:

Although, honestly, nothing cracks me up more than the scene where she's running into all the geese are everywhere And she's like, yeah.

Habiba:

I was actually thinking about that, like she actually pops it down like follows after Lizzie and it's quite as hilarious.

Izzy:

And all the geese are like flying everywhere. I was like, oh my gosh, like she, she's determined. This is a moment And I think the thing is as well like she says about Elizabeth being headstrong, but I feel like her mom's quite headstrong as well. Like we said that in some of the examples where she's out when most people wouldn't in, you know she knows what she wants for her daughters and she's like willing to go to great lengths to get it.

Habiba:

Yeah, i was actually thinking, just like this morning. I was thinking the daughters that she's most like are Lydia and Lizzie. Like Lydia, obviously, the comparisons are very obvious, but Lizzie also kind of doesn't. She doesn't really see who's in front of her and she will say her opinion. You know, yes, she's a bit more restrained and, you know, perhaps a bit more refined. But Lizzie will ask, like she will challenge the person, and I feel like that is something that she gets from her mom, definitely not from her dad, and I found that really interesting. You know, she's she. she herself probably doesn't realize and Mrs Bennett probably doesn't realize, but they actually have that connection And I found that just interesting. just that, oh, lizzie is quite a lot like her mom and she's also the one that her mom likes the least. So I just wondered like, oh, you know that that's quite an interesting little thing.

Izzy:

Yes, i love that point so much, i think it's so true, and I can kind of see why you clash, because it makes like an aspect of your own personality that kind of irritates yourself in a sense. And then you see that in one of your daughters, you're like like why are you doing this if you don't recognize that actually it's just a reflection of yourself?

Habiba:

Yeah, exactly.

Izzy:

No, I kind of love that. you're right that Lizzie has no filter And that is just like a mom, like Lizzie, will say stuff that's like it's a Mr Darcy, like she's open, like like really she gets embarrassed by her mom, but she does the same thing.

Habiba:

Exactly, and I think obviously the reason that her mom gets so upset by it or gets upset by Lydia So, lizzie, is that you know it's it's thwarting her own plan because you know this girl is never going to get married. If she's, you know, i'm married, i'm settled, i can say whatever I want, but Lizzie needs to have some decorum, like her sister Jane. You know why is she like this, whereas you might have to think that I've led by example, you know, and that's why she's like that. She's yeah.

Izzy:

That's so true And I think in the book as well. It states that, like Mrs Bennett was upset that Mr Bennett wasn't considerate and kind to all of his daughters, like the clear favoritism towards Lydia. And that might be as well, because that would be like super. Why do you love all of your daughters equally Like, why aren't you giving them the same attention? like stop calling them silly girls like you're affecting their self esteem.

Habiba:

Imagine doing a second analysis of the family.

Izzy:

Oh my gosh, don't. It makes you think honestly, and I love at the end of the book as well that it says that, mr Bingley and Jane, i think they lasted it never feel for like 12 months before they had to move because they couldn't be so close to Mrs Bennett Exactly.

Habiba:

She's, she's still had no chill. You know, it's probably like, okay, you're married, now where are the kids?

Izzy:

you know, I can totally see that being the case. Honestly, it's like, yeah, it just be one thing after another. That is so true, and also she still does have a couple of daughters to marry off. I think then, marrying so well obviously would take the pressure off, because it means that the two eldest daughters can help find husbands for the younger ones that means that the book happens, like it does, you know, help their prospects, which again, mrs Bennett has foresight with that, like she does say it obviously she says in front of everyone.

Izzy:

I was thinking yeah she's like I know what's going to happen when they marry, like it's gonna be good news for us all. I don't know whether it was like weird for her to say it out loud, obviously, because it's kind of like a bit rude to do that, but also as like maybe for her, though, it's like a status thing, you know, like in in your own society, like it's got to be like. I feel like, if you are Mrs Bennett, it's important that you kind of leave your mark and you're like you know this is what we're all aiming for, isn't it?

Habiba:

Yeah, and maybe that's why she's always like kind of competing with Lady Lucas, because she's like yeah. So, by the way, you know my daughter, Jane, and you know she's kind of like she. She's very aware of the status that she probably wants to climb to and the one that she currently has as well.

Izzy:

So, yeah, Yeah, i mean, it seems like a pretty small town, so everybody already knows everyone's business anyway. So I feel like you'd want to take charge of the narrative and be like this is good, jane's got this guy going on and this is what's happening here. And I do think Mr Darcy appreciates the fact that he's walked into their world in a sense, and this is what they've always done.

Izzy:

They all gossip and it's like when Mr Wickham runs off of Lydia, and then suddenly everybody has a story about Mr Wickham, about why he's a bad guy, and it's like yeah where did that come from? Why was everyone keeping that quiet?

Habiba:

Yeah, exactly.

Izzy:

But the truth is that everybody just knows what's like going on with each other. Yeah, Yeah, I don't know why he, I don't know if you feel the same way. it's like you know he stepped into their world in a sense.

Habiba:

He's just, obviously he's really rigid. So that's the one thing about him like he kind of like knows what he's at And then he kind of like thinks that everyone should accept the way he is and kind of like mould themselves around it. You know that's literally not what reality is. I'm saying this despite being a huge Mr Darcy fan. You know he just kind of like doesn't get that people are different, there's odd characters, there's idiosyncrasies everywhere, and he's just there like oh yes, but you know, people need to behave properly. Like you know, why is Mr Colin, for example, coming over to me and, you know, introducing himself?

Izzy:

What I love about it is Mr Darcy's like this was a terrible introduction and everybody else can see that. But Mr Collins goes back to Lizzie and is like fabulous introduction. We did so well there. He was vibing with me.

Habiba:

Oh, I love it. Mr Colin just makes me laugh so much.

Izzy:

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Habiba:

Mrs Bennett is actually someone who's a great example of so. She's an example I use when I'm teaching about how words can change meaning and the word gossip. I don't know if you know this, but it used to mean an old woman. But yeah, then it changed the meaning. It changed over time to now mean the verb gossip, as in talk about rumours and things like that, And I'm always referring to Mrs Bennett and I'm like, yeah, so by the way, she's probably one of the reasons that the word changed meaning.

Izzy:

That's so interesting that I honestly never heard that before. That's fascinating, oh my gosh. At the end of the day, i don't know what else you would be able to do as a woman in Regency England, because there's not much you can do with your time. You can like embroider and you can use other bits, but I feel like gossiping is like the past time.

Habiba:

Exactly. It's the spice of life, because what else are you supposed to be doing? painting tables, or embroidery, or being accomplished in a quaint way, apparently.

Izzy:

I feel like there's like a weird dynamic as well between, like, what people consider acceptable for women to talk about as well. So it wasn't, you weren't really like able to go and be like I've got some big ideas here, like this is how we're going to change the world, guys, because everyone would be like that's so improper.

Habiba:

Can you just imagine someone saying so? by the way, quantum physics, let's talk about that. And everyone's just there like, okay, she's gone mad, Let's take her to the asylum.

Izzy:

I feel like their conversations were kind of framed as well. It was like these are the things they're acceptable to talk about.

Habiba:

And Mrs Bennett really really takes that home and runs away with it.

Izzy:

I think so, And I think as well, like I don't think she sees things outside of her own town either. Because I think you really see that when Wickham and Lydia run away, because when they elope together, she's not worried about the elope.

Izzy:

As soon as they're married, she's not worried about the elopement anymore, she's worried about like if they're going to get the best wedding clothes and whether or not Mr Bennett will give them money, and that's what concerns her more than like the impact of the fact that her daughter like ran off with this guy, and it's interesting that she has like such kind of short sightedness with that kind of thing.

Habiba:

Yeah, i think also it's perhaps a coping mechanism on her side. You know, if she did start thinking about other things then it would probably kind of really you know she's already got an apparently nervous disposition But it would probably like wreck her mental health completely because she'd be like, oh my God, you know my daughter's ruined And what are people probably saying about her. So instead and she does this throughout the book she kind of like probably puts it all in a box, throws it away, you know, and deals with what she has in front of her. you know, she kind of is great actually. she knows what she is having to deal with, like right in front of her, and she doesn't bother with anything else.

Izzy:

Yeah, And I think you're probably right, That's a good coping mechanism to have in that day and age when she's got all of these, like you know, pressures that she's got to deal with, I think. I think the fact that she can kind of, like you know, put things into little packages and be like that's done with, we're not going to like worry about that too much anymore, like we're sorted, it's fine, I think is probably the only way that she can survive like going through life. And again, that's an actually example where her and Mr Bennett on that dissimilar because he does the same thing. He's just like yeah, bye, bye. In the wrong ways in which they are actually really similar.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, it's really funny because they were really funny like example of marriage. You know, mr Bingley, you can tell, obviously he married her for her looks we, you know he's like oh, you're just as handsome as your daughters. You know, mr Bingley sorry, do I say Mr Bingley, mr Bennett, yeah, mr Bingley would probably think you're just as handsome as your daughters and she's like she takes them very seriously and she's like don't be so silly. I used to be handsome and all of that, but then they don't really see how they're like similar And I've completely forgotten where I was going with this. But they yeah.

Izzy:

Do exactly they have. no, the point is, they just have moments, don't they? whether it's like you look at them and you're like I feel like the book emphasizes why they're dissimilar and why their marriage doesn't work, but somehow actually they do have similarities and their marriage does work.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, it somehow does work. I think it's a really great kind of like commentary on marriage. Like when you marry someone, don't marry them for their looks, basically marry them for some of the other qualities at least. You know, you need to look at the person's personality as well, and obviously there must have been something to do with the social background of Mrs Bennett's family as well that would have drawn Mr Bennett to her and vice versa.

Habiba:

But generally it seems like he knew nothing of her aside from her looks. It was just like, okay, there she is presented to him on a plate And he said, yes, she went along with it And that was it done and dusted. But but now it's like, you know, so many years on, over 20 years on, and we see that you know, the marriage didn't just end there and they had to deal with the actual people you know, and it makes you wonder, like what is Jane Austen saying about marriage as well? Like you know, young love is all great and everything, but how are these young people going to be dealing with each other when you know they've been married for decades?

Izzy:

Yeah, like beauty fades, like what you have left after that point if you didn't marry for anything other than looks. And yeah, i feel like the whole book often is like so much commentary on different marriages And maybe the reason that Mrs Bennett seeks advice or like seeks like I don't really know what, like kind of counsel innocence from Charlotte.

Habiba:

Lucas.

Izzy:

Yeah, Charlotte Lucas has like a very pragmatic view on marriage.

Izzy:

Yeah it's rare that people marry for happiness, and maybe she's literally just like I. There's something that she wouldn't want to talk to her daughters about, because actually deep down, she wants the best for them and she doesn't want them to be kind of I don't know their idea of what marriage and love could be like, to be shaded by what she has with mr Bennett, and so like she goes to someone like Charlotte Lucas, who's like you know she thinks well, she's clearly got the same view as me because she's like potentially gonna be an all-made. It's not being all like roses and butterflies for her either.

Habiba:

Yeah, she's like, you know what this young woman gets it. You know all hope is not lost, right? She gets it.

Izzy:

Yeah, literally, literally.

Habiba:

Mrs Bennett is such an archetype of this E and Arab and just generally like more traditional moms. The whole proposal Seen I've been through this, by the way, so it's interesting. So you know, when Mr Collins comes in as well and he's just like oh yes, can I speak to Elizabeth on our own? and then when mr Bingley comes and he's like, and everyone gets it like they know what he's going to talk about and They all leave the room and you know it's just So, it's there's so much pressure on the young man, but anyway, it's quite funny because she's just there, like trying to listen. Although I haven't been through anything as extreme as, like you know, my mom listening at the door or anything like that, i can just totally imagine it. Like you know, everyone's just there. My mom was like you know what's she saying? She's saying anything stupid. You know, has she messed it up? I hope she's not.

Habiba:

You know, going on too much about her books and Mrs Bennett is just like that, like she's. She's so much like the way that moms are now and You know, in in my coach are definitely like you know, being Pakistani and you know The other thing is like the way that she she really reminded me of, like, all those women who weren't able to fulfill a potential right and they, they were kind of just Having to live in their little worlds and, you know, create something big out of that, because at the end of the day, we're all the main protagonists of our own stories, right? And I just found it so interesting that when I was reading this time I thought, wow, she's a lot like my grandma. My grandma, she's really quick, she's, she's witty, the way that she just manages to say whatever she wants. And Mrs Bennett, she's got that sense of a matriarch. And it really reminded me of like how a lot of South Asian Moms or, you know, grandma, in a way, mrs Bennett is ahead of like her time because she doesn't even care about what she says to the men. Right, she, you know, she, she's said.

Habiba:

I thought that was interesting as well, isn't it?

Izzy:

I. That's something that I really like about her is that she's got that kind of bold personality And it kind of sounds like that that's what you're saying like with your, your gran as well that she's got that kind of Kind of got that fire under a belly that she can say things, because she's literally just like yeah, definitely. I've lived, i've done my like, whatever, and now I'm like. You know, i'll say my thoughts on things.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, exactly Yeah, and she does. She always has an opinion on on whatever it is, and You know, bless her, she was just like You know, whatever she knows about she. She kind of like try and make that the topic of conversation. Like I've actually talked to her about something that I find interesting and she'll just rebuke me and be like You know, well, that's boring, you know. Why are you talking about that, you know. But but she's a great storyteller and I feel, like Mrs Bennett, like if she was given a bit more time in the books, she would probably be, you know, out there telling us some next story about her. You know her, what's it called her youth? and I feel like, yeah, Yeah, if that don't.

Izzy:

You was like the red coat thing is like. She adds like an element It's like if she had more airtime. I feel like Mrs Bennett be like. Let me tell you my, my story, my situation on this.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Izzy:

No, i definitely love that and I think it's so true and I love that she does have that kind of like more fiery sides of a personality, because I Kind of feel like without that she kind of be like bordering on more of like a Miss baits kind of character. Oh yeah, you know but it's a little bit like Kind of mostly sad and no, no fire, all sad and no fire.

Habiba:

Yeah, i like she really stands out. And I think maybe she stands out more because you know, now I'm older and I'm able to understand nuances of you know society and things like that, and but also it's like, like you're saying about the fire, is she's she really like? she's like, okay, i'm not gonna stay quiet. You know who cares if I'm not living the bet my best life? you know I'm gonna do what I can for my daughters actually.

Izzy:

Yeah, i think that's like a perk of being married as well, if you're gonna take anything from live and you like you know. But your main objective in goal was to be married. I feel like by the time you are married, you may as well take full advantage of that security and be like okay. Well, that was my time to share my thoughts.

Habiba:

Yeah, so forget being, like you know, demure. Let's say what we really want.

Izzy:

Yeah, she's like. You know, pre marriage is the time to be like sensitive and demure and not like, say your, you know your thoughts on things, and then she's like and then, once you're married, you can say you can say what you like and you tell them if they're like rude and I love Yeah yeah, like you said, to the men as well, because she is a force to be reckoned with. Really, when she's, when she's not nervous and, like You know, overcome by her emotions, she's, she's actually got a shiz together.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah, and it's interesting what you said, because The daughter that she thinks is behaving most properly, and the one that she admires most, is Jane, who's, like her total opposite. Jane is shy, she's she's you know. She keeps her thoughts to herself. She even, like, takes a while to tell Elizabeth things and she's very close to Elizabeth. But that's the daughter that you know. Mrs Bennett is like. You know, she's my best daughter, she's the best I've got and she's the one I'm gonna, like you know, boast to everyone about.

Izzy:

Isn't it so weird that the daughter that's like their favorite is the daughter that's like not like, is not like either of the parents? Well, it's like where did Jane even come from? I?

Habiba:

know, like Jane just sprouted. She's like a fairy or something, like you know, but but she's the one that you know. Definitely her mom is like yeah, this is my prize possession, this is my golden egg, guys, like you know.

Izzy:

This is the best we've got to offer, so she's got to do well and I loved it. She's like oh, i knew you couldn't be so pretty for nothing. Like, oh, thank god, like I knew that you were like This angelic figure that we just, like you know, procured.

Izzy:

Yeah, I think it's funny as well and she knows mr Bingley's coming back to propose the. She's like trying to find a servant to help Jane get ready in. She they say, and kitty's like trying to say something and mrs Bennett's like hang kitty, what's she got to do with it? I think I think a good balance between you know, she's got her her flaws where she's like we obviously really struggling with her nerves and anxiety and like That's understandable, but also she's a bit of a force to be reckoned with when she, you know, isn't Dealing with that side of things. Yeah, and I kind of love that balance. I think that's so good. I think she's got to have both elements because of the situation in life. You know she couldn't be all fire and no worry, because She's got all these daughters She's got to marry off. It's got to be realistic.

Izzy:

So I think, Austin does a good balance between.

Habiba:

Definitely. And it's interesting because even with the nerves, she doesn't stay quiet. She doesn't like You know Suffering silence She's like. Let me let everyone know that, by the way, you're all causing me a a lot of pain.

Izzy:

Yeah, i love that. She's not like suffering in silence at all, she's literally just like I want you all to know that I'm suffering. Yes you're the cause of it.

Habiba:

Yeah, psa.

Izzy:

I just love that. It's so funny, um, but this has been so fun though. I really enjoyed this conversation and we're already in talks about like other topics, aren't?

Habiba:

we of like definitely in the future.

Izzy:

So, um, i think you know you'll definitely be back on, that's for sure.

Habiba:

Yeah, yeah and I'm definitely Thank you so much, like I really enjoyed this like and I really enjoyed like rereading Pride and Prejudice and I think I'm gonna probably reread all of the like Jane Austen books over summer now because I'm just like, yeah, so thanks, izzy, you know.

Izzy:

I'm so glad you know if I do anything in life. I love sparking people.

Habiba:

Yeah, and I'm like normally if I'm rereading something, i'm feeling guilty, but because I was like literally taking notes, you know, i was just like. You know, i was like I'm being productive. Yeah, you know I'm learning new stuff. Yeah, i'm like, oh yes, i'm going to reread all of Austen now. So, thanks so much. I was like It's been a great experience as well and it's been great talking to you today.

Izzy:

That's good, and when you're rereading all of them, you also have another purpose, because we know we've got like other topics We want to talk about.

Habiba:

so yes, Yes. So much to say about Emma, about PSAsia. You know so much to say.

Izzy:

Exactly? Do you want to let everybody know where they can find you after the episode?

Habiba:

Yeah, sure, so my Instagram is at HabibaReadsBooks, so thank you, i'd really really appreciate it. Follow.

Izzy:

Absolutely, and you don't just talk about Austen, you talk about all different books, you know. So that's like really cool. Definitely give Habiba a follow over there, because I always love your content and obviously what drew me to your page initially was your like photo with Emma, but I have to look around for all the other stuff. So Thank you, thank you.

Izzy:

But that is everything from us today. As always, guys, you can follow me over on Instagram at what the austin for any updates on the podcast And, if you would like to join the patreon the jay night tribe, the link for that is also available down below, and we are actually starting a book club there, so definitely check that out and see if that's something you'd be up for. We've got a great community of fellow jane austin fans over there. So, yeah, that's everything from us today And I will see you in another episode.

Mrs. Bennett in Jane Austen's Works
The Significance of Mrs. Bennett
Mrs. Bennett's Portrayal in Pride and Prejudice
(Cont.) Mrs. Bennett's Portrayal in Pride and Prejudice
Marriage and Gossip in Regency England
The Fiery Personality of Mrs. Bennett
Promoting Instagram and Patreon Accounts