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|Designs on Bingley?
Written by Robbin
(4/29/2007 12:27 p.m.)
"Is he married or single?" (Chapter 1)
In Chapter 1, when Mrs. Bennet tells her husband that Netherfield has been taken by a young man of large fortune he first asks what his name is and then his marriage status. Is Mr. Bennet thinking of his daughterís future or is he just interested in a new neighbor? If he was only thinking of a new neighbor then why would he care if he was married?
Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He had always intended to visit himÖ (Chapter 2)
Does Mr. Bennetís early visit to Bingley combined with his asking about his new neighborís marital status show that he is thinking of Bingley marrying one of his daughters? At least that he wants them to be in the early running perhaps?
In a few days Mr. Bingley returned Mr. Bennet's visit, and sat about ten minutes with him in his library. He had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much; but he saw only the father. (Chapter 3)
When Mr. Bennet has the opportunity to introduce Bingley to his daughters in Chapter 3 he does not do it. Although I am not an expert, introducing Bingley to his daughters at this time does not seem like it would be inappropriate. Is this Mr. Bennetís capriciousness getting the better of him? He knows his daughters want to meet him; all of them, including Lizzy tried various attacks in order to obtain a description of Bingley from Mr. Bennet in Chapter 2. Is he just teasing his wife and daughters by not introducing them in order to observe their antics and increase his amusement?
"If he had had any compassion for me," cried her husband impatiently, "he would not have danced half so much! For God's sake, say no more of his partners. O that he had sprained his ancle in the first dance!" (Chapter 3)
By the end of Chapter 3, his wife and daughters return from the ball having finally met Mr. Bingley, Mr. Bennet is no longer interested in the subject and directs Mrs. Bennet to give up the topic of his partners. It seems that while Mr. Bennet may have some interest in assuring his daughters will be acquainted with Mr. Bingley, it is less of a concern than the entire situation being orchestrated for his maximum amusement. He even had the specific hope his wifeís views of Bingley would be disappointed, an outcome which would surely have irked Mrs. Bennet no end and his amusement would have continued for a while yet:
He had rather hoped that all his wife's views on the stranger would be disappointed; but he soon found that he had a very different story to hear. (Chapter 3)
First he teases his wife he will not visit Bingley, then visits in secret and surprises his family, then does not introduce them when Bingley calls and after his wife and daughters finally meet Bingley at the assembly ball and his wife is not disappointed, the subject becomes uninteresting. I do not think I can safely say Mr. Bennetís initial question of "Is he married or single?" can be attributed more to concern for his daughterís prospects with a wealthy man than to designing an amusing situation. ;D
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