Flawed Motivations in Pride & Prejudice
"They are going to be encamped near Brighton; and I do so want papa to take us all there for the summer! It would be such a delicious scheme, and I dare say would hardly cost anything at all. Mamma would like to go too of all things! Only think what a miserable summer else we shall have!"
“She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp … and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.”
“Have you seen any pleasant men? Have you had any flirting? I was in great hopes that one of you would have got a husband before you came back. Jane will be quite an old maid soon, I declare. She is almost three-and-twenty! Lord, how ashamed I should be of not being married before three-and-twenty!... Lord! how I should like to be married before any of you!”
“Lydia's going to Brighton was all that consoled her for the melancholy conviction of her husband's never intending to go there himself.”
Mrs. Bennet was diffuse in her good wishes for the felicity of her daughter, and impressive in her injunctions that she would not miss the opportunity of enjoying herself as much as possible -- advice which there was every reason to believe would be attended to.
Of the four characters I’m dealing with, Mr. Bennet’s motivation is perhaps the most flawed. In his avoidance of conflict at all costs, he is unwilling to take a firm stance and is so good at side-stepping the issue that even Lizzy is taken in by him.
“Elizabeth saw directly that her father had not the smallest intention of yielding; but his answers were at the same time so vague and equivocal, that her mother, though often disheartened, had never yet despaired of succeeding at last.”
Lizzy believes she understands her father. She thinks he sees things the way she does, but she is proven wrong. The moment the Fosters offer to take Lydia with them, Mr. Bennet is more than happy to yield, as long as it doesn’t require any effort on his part. His initial refusal to allow Lydia to go doesn’t stem from concern for Lydia. It stems from his reluctance to travel. “We shall have no peace at Longbourn if Lydia does not go to Brighton. Let her go, then,” he says.
"…detestable as such a step must make her, were it known, she could not help secretly advising her father not to let her go.
"If you were aware," said Elizabeth, "of the very great disadvantage to us all which must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner -- nay, which has already arisen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair."
"Already arisen?" repeated Mr. Bennet. "What, has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! But do not be cast down. Such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth a regret. Come, let me see the list of the pitiful fellows who have been kept aloof by Lydia's folly."