In May I gave a shoutout on Mother's Day to all the wonderful women in my life, and I'd like to do the same today for the men. Whether you have children or not, here's to all the great men out there - fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, uncles, nephews, grandfathers, boyfriends, godfathers, and anyone else who's ever been a part of a bromance - wishing you a very special day! My father is a huge blessing in my life and I probably owe a great deal of my nerdiness and my love of science-fiction to him. My parents were both big readers and their eclectic tastes have led me to appreciate many different genres, and I think if they were both into the same authors, my reading tastes might not be as widespread as they are today.
I was trying to think of a good book to tie into talking about Father's Day and it occurred to me that two of my all time favorite novels - arguably two of the best books ever written - both contain key characters that are fathers. In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, though the story revolves mostly around Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth's father, Mr. Bennet finds himself at the epicenter of many key plot points. He's not an ideal father figure and seems to take great pleasure in mocking his wife and youngest daughters, but he does have a wonderful relationship of respect with his eldest daughters: Jane and Elizabeth (Lizzy). Austen also managed to provide Mr. Bennet with some of the wittiest dialog and smartest lines of the entire book. In one of my favorite scenes, Lizzy - much to the chagrin of Mrs. Bennet - rejects a proposal of marriage from Mr. Collins. Mrs. Bennet, in quite a tither, tries to persuade her husband to intercede.
She would not give [Mr. Collins] time to reply, but hurrying instantly to her husband, called out as she entered the library, "Oh! Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have him, and if you do not make haste he will change his mind and not have her."
Mr. Bennet raised his eyes from his book as she entered, and fixed them on her face with a calm unconcern which was not in the least altered by her communication. "I have not the pleasure of understanding you," said he, when she had finished her speech. "Of what are you talking?"
"Of Mr. Collins and Lizzy. Lizzy declares she will not have Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins begins to say that he will not have Lizzy."
"And what am I to do on the occasion? It seems an hopeless business."
"Speak to Lizzy about it yourself. Tell her that you insist upon her marrying him."
"Let her be called down. She shall hear my opinion."
Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library.
"Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?" Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well—and this offer of marriage you have refused?"
"I have, sir."
"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?"
"Yes, or I will never see her again."
"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."
~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice excerpt from Chapter 20
I suppose it's a much funnier line in the context of the novel, but essentially Mr. Bennet realizes what a bad match Mr. Collins would be for Lizzy and this is the amusing way he makes his point known.
I think I'll leave my other favorite fictional father as a guessing game! I've already given the hint that he is featured in one of my all-time favorite books, a book that many people consider one of the best books ever written.