1. How did Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy meet? How did they ever become friends? Mr. Darcy is several years older than Mr. Bingley, and while they're both technically "gentlemen", they're from the opposite ends of the spectrum - Mr. Darcy is the grandson of an earl with a huge ancestral property and income, while Mr. Bingley is the son of a tradesman whith no estate at all. (I'm guessing he's a gentleman because he's independent.)
In fact, Elizabeth has a better background than the Bingleys - her mother's family are in trade, but her father is true gentry. The Bingleys don't even have that. If it's possibly inappropriate for Elizabeth to marry Mr. Darcy, how much more so would it be for Caroline Bingley to marry him? Or for Charles Bingley to marry Georgeana? And Jane would be a step up for him. (BTW, ever wonder if Charles and Caroline were twins, given their names?)
Or perhaps I'm overstating the case.
The only thing I can come up with is that Bingley and Darcy attended public school together and for some reason, Darcy took the younger boy under his wing and, well, Charles Bingley was probably as sweet and lovely a boy as he was a man, and Darcy couldn't help liking him.
2. I just rereadMansfield Park, and I'm not sure why this is my favorite book, although it is. I mean, I don't like Fanny all that much, and Mrs. Norris goes from amusing to irritating very quickly, and the final pairings are...problematic.
One of the problems is that for Fanny and Edmund to marry, Henry Crawford has to behave in a manner that was downright *stupid* and out of character. Yes, he's impulsive, but running off with the married cousin of the woman he loves enough to try changing for her? And he was changing for her - we could see through the Portsmouth chapters that she was beginning to have a good opinion of her because he was talking and acting as he *should*. The Author herself said that if he'd just thought - and this is a man who does think - he'd have gotten Fanny.
The other thing is that I don't like the Fanny/Edmund match. First cousins is too close for comfort and, honestly, I don't see her feeling far differently for Edmund than she does for William. It's all gratitude and worshipful little sister (richly deserved, to be sure). It's also too obvious - Mrs Norris has to be wrong all the time, so she was also wrong in this. Except she was *right* - children raised together tend to not see each other as sexual partners. Not 100% of the time, but...
So I'd have been happier if Henry Crawford had married Fanny. Edmund would have been unhappy with Mary, but that's something else.