Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Bennet Quotes
"Certainly, my dear, nobody said there were; but as to not meeting with many people in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four-and-twenty families." (9.25)
Mrs. Bennet is insisting that there are plenty of people to hang out with in the country (as opposed to the town), but the subtext here is that only certain people actually count as "people." And Mrs. Bennet's standards are a lot lower than Darcy's.
"Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!"
"How so? How can it affect them?"
"My dear Mr. Bennet," replied his wife, "how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them."
"Is that his design in settling here?"
"Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes."
"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 may like you the best of the party." (14-19)
Mr. Bennet's style of communication is a kind of passive aggressive, teasing banter, most of which goes way, way over his wife's head. Why does he talk to her in this way (which presumably isn't the way he talks to, say, Bingley, when he goes to visit him)?
"You began the evening well, Charlotte," said Mrs. Bennet with civil self-command to Miss Lucas. "You were Mr. Bingley's first choice."
"Yes; but he seemed to like his second better."
"Oh! you mean Jane, I suppose, because he danced with her twice. To be sure that did seem as if he admired her—indeed I rather believe he did—I heard something about it—but I hardly know what—something about Mr. Robinson." (5.4-6)
If Mrs. Bennet were fishing any harder for a compliment, she'd have to get a permit.