P&P, day 6 & 7, episode 6 and 1: All about Mr. Bingley

Austen Advent Calendar

I didn’t write a blog post yesterday, because getting home from work around midnight does that to you, but at least I watched the episode before work. So I’m on track, just not with the blog posts!

This time, I’ll go into the beehive that is comparison between the ’95 and the ’05 versions of Pride & Prejudice, though I kind of think it’s unfair to compare them – they have very different takes on the same source material! But I don’t mean to compare the Darcys, which is what most comparisons boil down to. Instead I want to look into the Bingley character!

My own, personal opinion is that this Mr. Bingley is the one most alike the Mr. Bingley of the book – he seems intelligent, good natured, and cares about the people around him, and it’s easy to see why he and Jane are well-matched. They are both really decent people, and this Mr. Bingley is shown speaking up against the snobbery of his sisters and Mr. Darcy.

“They would be just as agreeable to me, had they uncles enough to fill all Cheapside!”

Mr. Bingley telling his sisters off.

His biggest flaw is the flaw described in the book as well, that he is too trusting of the judgement of others. He gets persuaded by three people that Jane doesn’t care about him, and he believes them. On the other hand, that also shows him to be a good character, even though he’s mistaken this time: He hears that a woman isn’t interested in him, and he backs away! It’s only when he has met with Jane again, and gotten the information from Darcy that he was mistaken and that they hadn’t told him about Jane being in London, that he makes his love for her known again. His biggest mistake in all this is perhaps not to speak to Jane herself about it before leaving Netherfield – but perhaps he didn’t feel like further pressuring somebody who he thought didn’t return his feelings? That’s my interpretation of his character at least.

Some people find Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet boring. I can see these people’s point, but we need people that are nice, that can stand up to their friends’ snobbery, and that believe in humanity and assuming good intentions from everyone, even if there can be mistakes.

And while there are things that are fantastic about the ’05 Mr. Bingley – I love the practice-proposal and his “trying-to-explain-his-meaning-but-digging-himself-deeper-into-a-hole” when Jane is ill at Netherfield – I think they made him too much of a comic relief character. They miss his intelligence and him taking a stand against the snobbery of his family and friends. Instead he falls head over heels for Jane and makes a fool out of himself, which is all believable when it comes to being around Jane, but they miss chances of making him intelligent but kind in scenes when Jane isn’t there. He is instead laughing at the other characters’ wit and vocal combats.

I find it a bit hard to believe Jane when she talks of Mr. Bingley as “sensible” in the ’05 version, because the audience doesn’t get to see it. I think this comic-relief-Bingley is the choice made by the director and editor-teams, but I don’t know for sure. As I’ve said, there are some fantastic things in this interpretation of Mr. Bingley as well, especially with the relatable blunders made when you really like somebody and your brain just stops sending intelligent messages to your vocal chords! But my personal opinion is that I think they miss the mark on Mr. Bingley’s general character, and I blame the “need” a lot of film makers seem to feel about making a character the comic relief, because it often strips away a lot of character depth.

So, with this long, rambling post, I conclude that I’m all for Mr. Bingley! Some people may disagree with my takes on the different adaptations, some people may disagree with Mr. Bingley as a character worth lifting up, but that’s the beauty of being able to think different things and respond to the same events in different ways.

“I think Jane would be quite proud of me”

Elizabeth Bennet, but in episode 3.

As you know by now, I’m doing this as a join-in of Drunk Austen’s original idea, and if you haven’t already, you should check them out!

You can also read more of my ramblings and research somewhat connected to the episodes of Pride & Prejudice!

See the blog heading image, of Mr. Bingley & Mr. Darcy from 1894, in full over at Wikimedia Commons

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