(by guest blogger Victoria Grossack)
As Father’s Day comes around, celebrated on the third Sunday in June in most, although certainly not all, countries around the world, Jane Austen devotees can contemplate the rich array of fathers portrayed in the author’s works.
By all accounts, Jane Austen had a wonderful relationship with her own father. He believed in her abilities and encouraged her to read anything and everything in his library. Despite the excellence of her own father, Jane Austen, by exercising her powers of observation and her lively imagination, created a completely different set of fathers and father figures in her six novels.
The Fathers of the Heroines
Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet has five daughters. He loves them, especially the heroine, Elizabeth, but not so unconditionally that he is unaware of their shortcomings. He is witty and insightful but also indolent. As a father he has been deficient, as he did not save money to buy them husbands, worthless or deserving. He had not reigned in the excesses of his wife or his younger daughters. Mr. Bennet, perhaps because he is older and therefore wiser, shows more insight into people than do many of the people around him. He is not taken in by Mr. Wickham, for example; whereas Elizabeth’s mistrust of that officer only occurs after she learns more information.