Jane Austen discussion

Mr Bingley

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message 1: by Sophie, Your Lovely Moderator (last edited Aug 29, 2013 05:37AM) (new)

Sophie | 2624 comments Mod
I am currently reading the what if variation Mr Darcy and the Secret to Becoming a Gentleman and it is great! I am really enjoying it.

I particularly enjoy the portrayal of Mr Bingley in this version. There is a wonderful quote which I think describes him perfectly, spoken by Darcy to Bingley ...

"It is a good thing that you are so friendly and good-natured. It fools most people into thinking that you are simpleminded. It allows you to observe the world unencumbered. Very little gets by you, though, and most people never recognise it."

I love that!

It got me thinking; my first opinion of Bingley was that he was a little ... well, not quite simpleminded but... sort of.

What were your opinions of Bingley?
Who agrees that this is a brilliant quote to describe him or who thinks that Bingley was meant to be perceived as more simpleminded?

message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca May | 561 comments I think the quote describes Bingley very well! When I first read about him I thought he was a darling, so lovely and sweet, but a bit too easily persuaded.

In terms of the quote, I think perhaps that Bingley was by no means simple-minded in certain areas, but when it came to his friends and matters of the heart, his gentleness led him to seem rather more simple-minded and he was too easily led. Therein lies both his strength and his weakness.

message 3: by Sophie, Your Lovely Moderator (new)

Sophie | 2624 comments Mod
This is the conversation/debate from the other post :)

Charazad: Ah! I think this is the first time I don't agree with Darcy :)
I think the Bingley in Austen's work was meant to be simple-minded for lack of a better word. I always thought Bingley to be a man of a somewhat weak character compared to Darcy at least. the way he was easily persuaded by his friend and sisters to think Jane had no feelings for him tells me he didn't quite trust his own judgment.
Also, there's this particular scene in the 1995 adaptation where he asks Darcy for his blessing. I thought that scene showed an understanding of Bingley's character.

Anne: I think Jane Austen's intention is to match her heroines perfectly to her heroes. Mr. Darcy is proud and a little stern, we eventually realize that Elizabeth has a touch of pride herself. Bingley is sweet and unaffecting, trusting of everyone, Jane is the same. They are a perfect match, each couple. For the later couple, we the reader see how well they are matched immediately. With the former it is a slow reveal. As Elizabeth and Darcy come to realize that they are soul mates, we do too.

Me: I do know what you mean but, well it is clear that Bingley values Darcy's opinion. Marital obligations were much more important back in that time and I think that when you are told about the unsuitability of such a match by your esteemed friend and your sisters, as well as having it suggested that the woman in question is (to use a modern vulgar phrase) a golddigger then, as it is such a personal topic close to the heart, it might be easy to begin to second guess yourself and believe what they are telling you over what you think (I mean, Jane's affection wasn't that obvious and so I think Bingley could easily start to think over his relationship with Jane and begin to interpret it in another way once the trusted and important friend and sisters had mentioned their concerns and voiced their doubt.)
Darcy himself has a real internal struggle with these problems and it takes him a while to finally let his heart win over his head, but while Darcy did do such a thing and Bingley was guided and didn't let his heart win, that is because Bingley is in no way as strong minded and willed as Darcy is, but this still does not make him simple-minded in my opinion.
Anne Elliot was persuaded to reject Wentworth, but would you call Anne simple-minded because she took the advice of a friend?
I completely agree with what you said Anne :)
But, what is your own opinion of Bingley - does this quote fit with him in your opinion?
As if you did not think it did then that would imply that Jane was to be simple-minded also as they are perfectly matched. Both are 'sweet and unaffecting, trusting of everyone' but this does not make them simple-minded - I do not think Jane to be simple minded at all.

Chahrazad: A very exhaustive answer Soph :) You made me see things differently, actually.
As to Anne Elliot, she was quite young when she met Wetworth and the terms of their engagement were peculiar since it was secret. A girl of 19 could easily be persuaded, in my opinion, to break off the engagement, especially when the adviser is a mother figure.
I guess I'm very much biased ... I've always been attracted to men with characters like Darcy's :)
I agree with what you said too, Anne :) they were a perfect match.

Me: Oh I am not saying that I am more a Bingley girl than a Darcy girl (that is definitely NOT the case at all! So much more a Darcy girl ;)) but I think this story really shows more depth to Bingley's character and I feel my original judgement of him was wrong, hence why I think I am defending him so much. I know this is a variations and not the original but the way the authoress refers to things which did happen in the original it made me pause and think that actually when I do think about the original tale and original portrayal, there is more to Bingley then I first thought and more behind his behaviour to think about, which I didn't when I first read the story - all that I have just written in reply to your comment is what came out of the that thinking session ;)
It just made me look at things from a different light. I had done that a lot with Darcy's character and behaviour as we are, as the reader, led to do that as Darcy's behaviour seems so awful that when we discover the truth, we automatically think about his past behaviour from a different angle. With Bingley you are not so much led to do that as Bingley was always a lovely character and so you don't automatically think about why he just leave Netherfield as things work out for him and Jane without the need to think anymore about it all, unlike with Darcy where this second reviewing of his character and behaviour is vital!
I agree about Anne Elliot - easy to be persuaded. But she is not simple-minded. Similar with Bingley, I think it was easy for him to be persuaded because of the reasons I have already stated so...
But yes, there is no question - Darcy all the way!
As to the the age situation with Anne being 19, Bingley is 25 but then Darcy is 28... it is natural to believe the opinions of someone older than you and be influenced by them as they are older, however small the gap may be, I know that from experience.
Also I forgot to mention your comment about the adaptations. The scene you are referring to... I did not take that scene in that way. I think Bingley simply wanted Darcy's blessing because he so values his friendship, but if Darcy had said no (which by that point he wouldn't have ;)) I do not think that would have stopped Bingley - he says himself in response to Darcy question about whether he needs his blessing 'No, but I should like to have it all the same.'
I think that in the 2005 film he was portrayed... a bit of a buffoon! In the 1995 I think he was much more faithful to the book and not quite so... (this is too strong a word really but) pathetic.

Louise: I think that it's a good quote and much fairer to Bingley than the adaptations, which do seem to present him as rather weak minded.
There's a huge difference between having a simple character, and a simple mind.
Bingley is very open and straightforward, he sees the good in people the way Jane does. He lets Darcy persuade him about Jane because the inference was that she wasn't in love with him and he did not think so highly of himself for that to be unbelievable, the way Darcy initially did with Lizzy.
Darcy clearly isn't attracted to people with a weak understanding, I doubt he would have made a great friend of an idiot.

Me: Louise we are in agreement - a rarity!!
I agree with all you say. The point about Darcy is very true - he would not be such good friends with a bumbling idiot.

Anne: Do I believe Jane and Bingley are simple minded...short answer no. Bingley and Jane are similar, but for very different reasons. Jane is unaffecting...etc because as Elizabeth says she is pure goodness. Jane cannot see wrong doing in anyone. When Elizabeth first tells Jane about Wickham, Jane tries to justify the behaviour of both Darcy and Wickham. Elizabeth admonishes her, saying Jane they can't both be good. Jane is the eternal optimist. Bingley is unaffecting..etc. because he is afraid to displease those he sees as his betters. His worship so to speak of Darcy is not due to age it is due to class. Darcy has more money and comes from older money, he even has aristocracy in his family line. Bingley and his sisters have newly acquired their money, from trade if I remember correctly. They are desperate to distance themselves from that fact and climb as high socially as they can. For Bingley, Darcy's opinion is the only one that matters. It is not from simple mindedness, but from blind devotion. Bingley is easy swayed especially by his manipulative sisters, who want nothing better than to marry him to Georgiana and firmly establish their family in society.

Me: Very good points you raise Anne and I agree. They did earn their money through trade (and Caroline seems happy to forget that point) and so a connection to the Darcy's of Pemberley in Derbyshire would be a great and very important connection indeed!

message 4: by Marte (new)

Marte (lavageit) | 16 comments I found him to be the opposite of Darcy, like Elizabeth is the opposite of Jane, bit in a fulfilling way. Bingley's simple, positive and good-natured; just a good guy really :)

message 5: by Sophie, Your Lovely Moderator (new)

Sophie | 2624 comments Mod
He is a good guy!!

message 6: by Marren (new)

Marren | 764 comments That quote suits Mr. Bingley of the the adaptations especially 2005. However, Mr. Bingley of the novel does not strike me as simple minded but just trustworthy of his friend Mr. Darcy approvals. He also sees the good in everyone, just like Jane does. I agree with Anne when she says that Jane and Charles suit each other.

message 7: by Sophie, Your Lovely Moderator (new)

Sophie | 2624 comments Mod
Did you mean that the quote doesn't suit the adaptation Bingley, as the quote is saying that he is not simple minded and so would agree with you say about the novel Bingley not being simple?

I didn't mind the 1995 Bingley too much. 2005 certainty seemed simple minded!

The novel Bingley is not simple-minded at all in my opinion, for the reasons listed above.

message 8: by Sophie, Your Lovely Moderator (new)

Sophie | 2624 comments Mod
I was moved to do a blog post :)

message 9: by Daisy (new)

Daisy | 38 comments Like darling Soph, I completely agree with her when it comes to her viewpoints on Bingley not being simpleminded.

This particular quote really does him some justice! In the beginning I did believe that he was a bit easily persuaded by his close friends but I tend to try and understand each perspective before making a real judgment.

It also is very true that Darcy is quite picky when it comes to choosing his friends, and since he is rather harsh on many, he is great friends with Bingley which certainly shows you something about his character!

Bingley is a good man and he respects his close friend's opinions, of course. Especially Darcy who is very dear to him. Like Soph stated previously, anyone could possibly be influenced by a older figure than themselves. Bingley respected Darcy's opinions and was a bit influenced by them due to the fact that he knew that Darcy had more experience.

My main point I am trying to out across here is that before any of us make any quick judgements about Bingley being simpleminded, we should understand these main points that I stated above. To me, he isn't simpleminded :)

message 10: by Sophie, Your Lovely Moderator (new)

Sophie | 2624 comments Mod
Thanks for your opinion. I am glad you agree with me.

You talk about not making snap judgments which is what I did really. I shouldn't have but I never really had any incentive to really think about it, as I already said, so I did make a snap judgement. But you really do need to think about it more before making your mind up about him - this is an example of how I am like Lizzy, she made a snap judgement of Darcy!

message 11: by Daisy (last edited Sep 04, 2013 12:22PM) (new)

Daisy | 38 comments Soph wrote: "Thanks for your opinion. I am glad you agree with me.

You talk about not making snap judgments which is what I did really. I shouldn't have but I never really had any incentive to really think ab..."

Well I suppose it's a natural instinct to make quick judgments, we can't help ourselves! :)

message 12: by Marren (new)

Marren | 764 comments Soph wrote: "Did you mean that the quote doesn't suit the adaptation Bingley, as the quote is saying that he is not simple minded and so would agree with you say about the novel Bingley not being simple?

I did..."

Yeah, a bit of a tongue twisted there.

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