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Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet – A Forgotten Love Story?
When one thinks of Pride and Prejudice, especially in terms of it being a love story, everyone immediately thinks of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. While I am not taking anything away from what a great love story this is there is another love story Pride and Prejudice which is often forgotten and overlooked and that is the story of Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet.
When Mr Bingley and Jane meet for the very first time at a ball in Meryton it is definitely a case of love at first sight as far as he is concerned and this is always a romantic start to a love story that has a happy ending. He is straight away struck by her beauty and immediately asks her to dance once they have been introduced. He does dance with some other young ladies that evening but it is obvious that Jane is far and above his favourite as he dances with her more than any other young lady. He communicates as much to Mr Darcy that evening by saying that she is the most beautiful creature that he has ever beheld and later defies Mr Darcy to make him think ill of Miss Bennet. It may not have been a case of love at first sight for Jane but it is clear that she likes him very much as she speaks of him in a very positive light to Elizabeth the next day saying that.
Bingley and Jane see much of each other in the forthcoming weeks and it is obvious that they are both falling in love with each other and all believe that an engagement between them is imminent. Mr Bingley hardly notices any other young lady and we are told that several young ladies were very put out at the Netherfield ball as Mr Bingely did not ask them to dance.
Mr Bingley’s biggest fault is that he is too easily persuaded by his sisters and Mr Darcy. When Bingley leaves Netherfield to go to London for a few days his sisters and Mr Darcy, who are quite concerned about his affection for Jane Bennet, see the opportunity and follow him to London. They persuade him that Jane is not in love with him, convince him to stay in London for the winter and conceal from him the fact that Jane, herself is in London.
We are not told anything about Mr Bingley from the time he leaves Netherfield in November to the time he meets Elizabeth in Derbyshire in the summer. All we know is that he was in London for the majority of that time. In London he would have gone to many balls and assemblies and met many charming young ladies and yet he cannot forget Jane Bennet and we know that as hard as she tries she cannot forget him. When Mr Bingley sees Elizabeth in Derbyshire she is pleased to see he knows exactly how long it is since they have seen each other as the last time he saw her was also the last time he saw Jane. He also tries to glean from Elizabeth as much information about Jane as possible without asking after her directly. When he does return to Netherfield he visits the Bennets often and it is not long before he proposes to Jane confessing that he has always loved her. She has no hesitation in accepting as she has never stopped loving him.
A wonderful love story, one of true love that does not die. It contradicts the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Mr Bingley would have had many distractions in London but from what we learn later in the story is that his love for Jane was so strong that she was never far from his thoughts.
Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet’s love story does affect the better known one of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Mr Bingley introduces Jane to his sisters at the ball in Meryton and they soon invite her to Nethferfiled which is when she falls ill and this results in Elizabeth spending several days at Netherfield to nurse her sister but she also does get to know Mr Darcy in this time. Elizabeth learns that Mr Darcy is the one who persuaded Bingley not to marry Jane and this is one of the reasons she gives for rejecting his first proposal. Finally, because Mr Bingley is so eager to see much of Jane when he returns to Hertfordshire and then becomes engaged to her it means Mr Darcy and Elizabeth see much of each other and because Jane and Bingley are not interested in anyone but each other it also means Mr Darcy and Elizabeth have much time alone together which does result in Mr Darcy’s second proposal.
So while the story of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is a great and famous love story let us not forget that of Jane and Mr Bingley – a charming, romantic story of undying love that also had many effects on the love story we all know so well.
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