The subject of the relationship between parents and children pertains to both Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice. Nearly all of the parents in Dickens' novel — Pip's parents, Molly, Magwitch, Mrs. Pocket, and the Aged P — display lack of competence, dependability, or presence. Austen deals with the problem of Mr. Bennet's irresponsibility and Mrs. Bennet's foolishness.
Although both novels contain problematic parents, Pride and Prejudice also emphasizes the possibility of faulty children. In this passage, Mrs. Bennet complains of Elizabeth's undutiful rejection of Mr. Collins. Elizabeth's marriage to Mr. Collins does indeed have miserable prospects, but her refusal does show a lack of devotion to her mother, however little Mrs. Bennet deserves it. Lydia's elopement with Mr. Wickham represents irresponsibility and disobedience towards her parents, although Mrs. Bennet approves of the result.
Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000