Why is it important that Mr. Bingley moves into Netherfield?

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Why is it important that Mr. Bingley moves into Netherfield?

We learn from the Authors narrative at the very outset of the novel, Pride and Prejudice, that “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife”. By using “must” rather than might or could all contingency is removed by Jane Austen. This lays down a foundation for the story to come in unequivocal terms and provides an insight for the reader as to the expectations on men in the early nineteenth century.

It is of major significance that Mr Bingley is introduced in chapter 1 as we discover that he is indeed “a single man of large fortune”. We are also presented with Mr and Mrs Bennet who are in possession (coverture) of five single daughters. During this historical period, it was critical that daughters were married as soon as they were of age. The role of women at the time was concentrated very much on that of home maker, infant carer, governess and submissive to men. With this in mind Mrs. Bennet urges Mr. Bennet to go and become acquainted with Mr. Bingley as soon as possible and to “consider your daughters”. It comes as no surprise that Mrs. Bennet’s core imperative is to “see one of” her “daughters happily settled at Netherfield, and all the others equally well married.”  

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Another underlying reason for the urgency of Mrs Bennet’s appeal to her husband is likely driven by the fact that Longbourn is entailed. Entail or fee tail was part of the English feudal law which restricted the inheritance of an estate to direct male descendants. As Mr Bennet only has five daughters we learn from him that the estate will pass to a cousin, Mr Collins, who “when [Mr Bennet is] dead may turn [them] all out of this house as soon as he pleases”. In this way entail plays an essential role in the novel and generates the ...

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