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|Etiquette, perversity or impending loss?
Written by Jo Y
(4/30/2007 3:36 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Bingley's first visit to Longbourne, penned by Silvia O
I have wondered too why the Bennet girls were not introduced to Bingley when he came to call at Longbourn for the first time (Ch 3). We know that they could not be introduced until Mr Bennet had made the initial contact (Ch 1), "... Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do not."
In Ch 2 we learn that Mr Bennet does indeed call on Mr Bingley and make the acquaintance. We are told (in Ch 3) that Bingley "... entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies ..." when he called at Longbourn, so this suggests to me that the rules of introduction at the time could not be the reason for not meeting the Bennet girls. My only supposition is that it might have been necessary for the wife/mother to be present to make an introduction to one's children? Mrs Bennet is not mentioned as being at home (only the girls are mentioned as being at the window) - perhaps she was off visiting Mrs Long or her sister Mrs Phillips and boasting about how wonderful a match her Jane would be for Bingley! - and she unwittingly blew the opportunity of having him meet the girls before the Assembly. If this is the case, I wonder how you think she would feel about the missed opportunity when she got home?! Does anyone know of the etiquette of the time regarding introductions to family?
Did Bingley only stay ten minutes because he realised that Mr Bennet showed no intention of introducing his family? We are told Bingley has "easy, unaffected manners" (Ch 3), so with so different a manner to Mr Bennet, decided to cut his losses.
Or, was it, as Susan L supposes, Mr Bennet's perversity. Did he enjoy any opportunity to stir his family, especially his wife, and "enjoy" the resulting effect. I can't see that there would be any peace at home either way: If Mrs Bennet and the girls had met Bingley then there would be all sorts of speculation and raptures about the inevitably of Jane capturing Mr Bingley; or, as happened and they didn't meet, the berating of Mr Bennet for the lost opportunity to introduce them; can't see Mrs Bennet accepting any responsibility for the lost chance.
Or, was Mr B putting off the potential/inevitable marriage of his daughters for as long as possible by keeping them out of sight for as long as possible? Albeit a very short time with the Assembly coming up. Was he not looking forward to the day when he would be left at home with just Mrs Bennet?
At the risk of fence sitting, I think it might be a bit of both.
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