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Mama Deb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Austen Musings

Otherwise known as procrastination.



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.

Thoughts?

Comments

I suspect Bingley and Darcy met in London, though public school works too.

I don't think Bingley's pedigree so bad. They say of his sisters:

"They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother's fortune and their own had been acquired by trade."

It's not clear whether the respectable family was the mother's and the father was a tradesman, or the respectable father married a rich tradesman's daughter, or went into trade himself, but being "of a respectable family" seems to be quite as good as the daughter of a gentleman and a woman whose relatives are lawyers and tradesmen.

With the added plus that Bingley is very rich -- nearly a hundred thousand pounds, with sisters dowered with 20 times what Elizabeth and Jane have, and "the habit of associating with persons of rank."

It may be that Bingley's somewhat arriviste statusis what makes Darcy so concerned that he not marry beneath him. Darcy's pride might be mortified by alliance with the Bennets, but there's no real doubt that Elizabeth will be elevated, rather than himself lowered. Whereas Bingley could concievably sink back out of the ton if he made an unsuitable match.

Not that I think this is likely to happen in Jane's case or, worth ruining the happiness of someone who does not himself much care even if it were.

Mansfield Park is my favorite too, and yet I have my own issues with it.

I don't think I'd have been any happier if Henry Crawford had gotten Fanny. He thinks, yes, but all along he's been following his fancy even when he not only should have but did know better. It's believable to me that with Fanny not immediately before him he might have the wisdom to know he should refrain from seducing Maria but not the strength of character to actually do so. He'd hardly be the first smart person who made a mistake with his eyes open, or willfully re-shut.

And once he had, Maria had it in her power to make him lose Fanny anyway. If she insisted on going with him, he might as well take her, because the scene she could kick up if he didn't would damn him with Fanny anyway.

I can't believe Fanny and Henry would have been happy together. He's selfish and has poor impulse control, and she doesn't speak up for herself even in the most extreme distress: it would be fatally easy for him to relapse into his old bad habits, and as long as they merely affected herself, Fanny would self-denyingly acquiesce and then go off and cry.

Crawford certainly does need her principles -- or at least, he needs some principles -- but he also needs a firmer check on the reins than Fanny has spirits to attempt. I can't subscribe to Austen's idea that Fanny's gentleness will inspire without irritating him -- I think it far more likely that it would have afflicted him with guilt and therefore resentment, and that she would turn into a martyr, which is bad for anyone's disposition.

First cousins doesn't bother me -- genetically it seems to be more or less all right, and it was common in the period. I think people tend to fall for someone in the available circle, and if your whole male world is your cousins and the footmen, one or the other is going to start looking good. Plus, Edmond was 15 or 16 when Fanny arrived, and then off to Eton and Oxford. It's not as though they were raised together from infancy.

I can't say I warm to the Pygmalion aspect of Fanny and Edmond's love, though -- he made her, and she submits to his judgment, and it creeps me out. And Edmond's requited love is so crammed into the postscript, and so much on the rebound, that it's difficult for me to be sure he actually was physically attracted to her, which strikes me as a matter of more moment than it seems to do Austen.

I think you're right, Mary and Edmund wouldn't have worked -- hers was a much more decided character than Fanny's, and while she probably would have bought into more of Edmund's positions than Fanny gave her credit for, the basic underlying attitude is too different.

Mary should have married Willoughby, from Persuasion. They would understand each other.

All excellent points. I think I just liked Henry Crawford.

I'd forgotten about the "respectable family" - I was concentrating on the lack of land. And, yes, Darcy could have married, say, one of the Gardiner's daughters and it would have been talked about, but not condemned, whereas Bingley was more precarious. More so than Mr. Bennett, who also married out of his social class. Although, in one very telling scene, Mrs Bennett behaved impeccably whereas Lady Catherine...well. :)

In a story I wrote, I married Mary Crawford to Mr. Elliot (actually, Sir William , as I'd killed off both Sir Walter and Elizabeth.) I married Miss Bingley to Mr. Crawford. And all was for show, of course, as the real love match was, well. :)

Heh. Slash, I assume, but who? Crawford and Sir William? I find it hard to picture, though I would definitely read it if you'd send me a link.

I have this inexplicable liking for Henry Crawford. What can I say?

Brothers

It's far from the best of pastiches, and I made a few elementary errors, but there are things in it I like.

Hee! It's not your liking for Henry I find inexplicable, it's your liking for Sir William. :)

Um. Yeah, actually. I can't read Persuasion now without realizing that Mr. Elliot would never, ever be like my Sir William, who might as well be an original character. The other choice of young, unattached men would have been Tom Bertram, and he never came to mind.

(And I have this desire to slash Henry Crawford and Edmund Bertram, too. You know, they were going to share Thornton Lacey.)

I can totally see Henry and Edmund. Doesn't Edmund give Fanny a little speech about how sometimes a man will distinguish the sister or intimate friend of the one he really likes best... and then court Crawford's sister? :) And Edmund's commendation of Crawford to Fanny is warm, and seems to be more about her making Crawford happy than him making her so.

I can see why Tom Bertram wouldn't come to mind. He's not very compelling, and is explicitly said in the text to be disinterested in Henry. I think if I were going to slash Tom with anyone, it would have to be the ranting Mr. Yates, one of his many "particular friends".

How about Darcy/Wickham? I have to admit, there's more textual grounds for Darcy/Bingley, but they get along too easily to have it be very interesting to me.

I can see Darcy/Wickham - two boys growing up together.

I can also see Darcy/Bingley, but - hmm. How do I put this. Bingley likes Darcy as a friend, maybe loves him as a brother, and he's easy going enough that, "Hey, this feels good!" works for him for the sex part. Darcy, though - Darcy sounded *jealous* about Jane. Everyone but *he* saw that Jane loved Bingley, but Darcy?

They may well have stopped the sexual stuff by the time Bingley came into his fortune, but Darcy was all right so long as he didn't have to share. He might well have found objections to any young woman whom Bingley fancied. However, he found Elizabeth and could let Bingley go.

Afterwards though - I wouldn't hurt Elizabeth that way.

Your comparison of Mrs Bennett to Lady Catherine made me think--maybe the final blow to Darcy's pride was the realization that he, too, had an embarassing family? I'd never thought of that before.

Yes, it doesn't say how far back the trade in the Bingley pedigree is. If it were grandparents or great-grandparents, it might be far enough back to be less of a stigma.