Perhaps Elizabeth learned her witty retort skills from her father. Check out what Mr. Bennet has to say about his son-in-law Wickham in chapter 53. The door has barely shut behind newlyweds Lydia and Wickham when Mr. Bennet says…
“He is as fine a fellow, ” said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, ” as ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law.”
Oh, there is some serious insulting going on here.
1. Wickham has great schmoozing abilities. He fooled everyone before with his delightful manners, and he’s trying to do it now.
2. Sir William Lucas is Collin’s father-in-law. Lucas’s daughter Charlotte was Collin’s second choice after Elizabeth rejected him. Readers, we definitely understand how Bennet feels about Collins. Remember that not too many pages ago Bennet told Lizzy if she married Collins he’d never talk to her again
3. valuable son-in-law: Could this be referring to the money it took to get Wickham out of debt? Also relating to the fact that Wickham had to be bribed to marry Lydia? Maybe alluding to Wickham’s incapability to earn an honest wage? Perhaps it’s all of the above.
Here’s another related quote from Mr. Bennet about his sons-in-law. In Chapter 59 Elizabeth watches her father get to know and like Darcy. Bennet says: “I admire all my three sons-in-law highly,” said he. “Wickham, perhaps, is my favourite; but I think I shall like your husband quite as well as Jane’s.”
I’m betting that Wickham is his favorite only in the way Mrs. Bennet is his favorite; they both have tremendous entertainment possibiities.