Saturday, November 6, 2010

Summarize the Bingley-Jane sub-plot in Pride and Prejudice

Mutual Attraction between Mr. Bingley and Jane
Mr. Bingley and Miss Jane Bennet happen to meet each other at an assembly which is held near the town of Meryton in Hartfordshire after Mr. Bingley has settled down at Netherfield Park. Mr. Bingley attends this assembly in the company of his friend Mr. Darcy and his sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. 
Mi. Bingley is greatly struck by the beauty of Jane who is the prettiest of all the girls who are attending the assembly. Mr. Bingley tells his friend Mr. Darcy that Jane is the most beautiful creature he has ever beheld. Mr. Bingley dances with Jane twice; and this fact is observed with great interest by everybody present. Not only does Jane herself feel much gratified by the honour which Mr. Bingley has done to her by dancing twice with her, but Jane's mother, Mrs. Bennet, also feels immensely pleased. On returning home, Mrs. Bennet reports to her husband that she felt delighted to have met Mr. Bingley, and that Mr. Bingley had thought Jane to be quite beautiful and had therefore danced with her twice. At home, Jane tells her sister Elizabeth that Mr. Bingley is just what a young man should be. She says that Mr. Bingley is sensible, good-humoured, and lively, and that she had never before seen such happy manners, so much ease, and such perfect good breeding in any man. Thus the attraction between Jane and Mr. Bingley is mutual.
Jane's Illness and her Week-Long Stay
Netherfield Park
After a few days, Jane receives an invitation from Miss Bingley's sisters to come to Netherfield Park and dine with them. The Bennet family regards this invitation as a great honour. Jane duly goes to Netherfield Parkand has to spend the night there because it has been raining and because she cannot return home. In fact, Jane has to stay on at Netherfield Park for about a week because she has caught a cold and developed a fever, and is advised by the doctor to take complete rest. During this period, when Elizabeth also joins her at Netherfield Park, Jane is nursed by Mr. Bingley's sisters with great care and affection. In this way the intimacy between Jane and Mr. Bingley's two sisters develops into friendship. Mr. Bingley too now becomes much more interested in Jane than he was before.
Mr. Bingley, Expected to Propose Marriage to Jane
The next stage in the development of the relationship between Jane and Mr. Bingley is a ball which Mr. Bingley holds at Netherfield Park and to which Jane, among others, has been invited. Everybody now begins to think that Mr. Bingley would propose marriage to Jane and that she would surely accept him. Mrs. Bennet begins to talk freely about the prospect of Mr. Bingley marrying Jane. In fact, Mrs. Bennet talks so copiously on this subject that Elizabeth feels rather upset by her mother's indiscreet and undignified manner of talking on this subject. However, there is little doubt even in Elizabeth's mind that Mr. Bingley would soon propose marriage to Jane.
A Setback to Jane's Hope
Contrary to the expectations, the Bingley-Jane affair now receives a setback. Mr. Bingley goes to London on some business, and he is then followed by all the other inmates of Netherfield Park. Miss Bingley writes a letter to Jane from London, informing her of the sudden departure of the whole family, and informing her further that the family would not return to Netherfield Park throughout the coming winter. This letter from Miss Bingley comes as a big shock to Jane who had been hoping that Mr. Bingley would soon propose marriage to her. Elizabeth had been sharing this hope of Jane's, and Mrs. Bennet had been feeling certain in this respect. Miss Bingley's letter contains also a hint that Mr. Bingley might in due course marry Mr. Darcy's sister, Georgiana.   However, Elizabeth thinks that it is Miss Bingley, supported by her sister Mrs. Hurst, who wants Mr. Bingley to marry Mr. Darcy's sister, Georgiana. In other words, Elizabeth is of the view that, left to himself, Mr. Bingley would certainly propose marriage to Jane but that Mr. Bingley's two sisters would do their utmost to press Mr. Bingley to propose marriage to Mr. Darcy's sister. In any case, Jane no longer entertains any hope that Mr. Bingley would marry her. She tries to adjust herself to the changed situation.
The Suspense and Anxiety of the Bennet Family
Days pass without bringing any further news of Mr. Bingley to the Bennet family. Now even Elizabeth begins to fear that Mr. Bingley's sisters would prove successful in keeping Mr. Bingley away from Netherfield Park. As for Jane, her anxiety, in this state of suspense, is most painful to her. Mrs. Bennet feels most wretched at the turn which events have taken. Jane tries her utmost to subdue her feelings of disappointment and dismay. She assures Elizabeth that she would get over this disappointment. She says that Mr. Bingley would always remain in her memory as the most amiable man of her acquaintance but that she would no longer entertain any hope of getting married to him.
Jane in London; No Meeting with Mr. Bingley
Jane now goes to London to stay with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, who are living in Gracechurch Street. It is in London that Mr. Bingley and his sisters are staying at this time. They live in Grosvenor Street. Miss Bingley calls on Jane; and Jane in return calls on Miss Bingley. But there is no meeting between Jane and Mr. Bingley. Nor does Jane have any hope that she would be able to meet Mr. Bingley. And yet Elizabeth hopes against hope that Miss Bingley would not ultimately succeed in keeping her brother away from Jane. In spite of the fact that Mr. Bingley is in London at this time, no meeting between him and Jane takes place. In fact, as we learn later in the novel, Mr. Bingley does not even know that Jane is at this time staying in London with her uncle and aunt.
Jane's Despondency
When Elizabeth, on her way from Longbourn to Hunsford, stops with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in London for a night, she learns from Mrs. Gardiner that Jane has been struggling to keep herself cheerful but that there have been periods of dejection for her. Of course, the reason for Jane's fits of dejection is that she has not been able to meet Mr. Bingley, and that even Miss Bingley has not shown much enthusiasm for her. Later, when Elizabeth happens to meet Mr. Darcy at Hunsford, she asks him if he had met Jane, who had been staying in London for the last three months or so; and he replies, in a confused way, that he had not been so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet (that is, Jane).
Mr. Bingley, Prevented By Mr. Darcy
from Marrying Jane
We now learn the true reason why Mr. Bingley had made no efforts to meet Jane after leaving Netherfield Park. The reason was that his friend Mr. Darcy had begun to feel that Jane would not suit Mr. Bingley as his wife. Mr. Darcy had formed an impression that Jane was not as much in love with Mr. Bingley as Mr. Bingley was in love with her. Therefore, he, supported by both Mr. Bingley's sisters, had prevailed upon Mr. Bingley to give up his intention to propose marriage to Jane. Thus it was the influence of Mr. Darcy upon Mr. Bingley, which had led to the termination of the relationship between Jane and Mr. Bingley.   This is the information which Elizabeth gets from Colonel Fitzwilliam's casual talk at Hunsford.
Mr. Darcy's Negative Role, Admitted by Him
When Mr. Darcy proposes marriage to Elizabeth, Elizabeth bluntly rejects this proposal and tells him that one of her reasons for rejecting his proposal is that he had prevented his friend Mr. Bingley from marrying her sister Jane and had thus destroyed the happiness of a girl who was most noble-minded and kind-hearted. Mr. Darcy, in his letter to Elizabeth, admits the charge and explains why he had obstructed Mr. Bingley's marriage with Jane. He says that he had genuinely been under the impression that Jane was not really in love with Mr. Bingley, and that he had therefore urged Mr. Bingley to give up his intention to marry her. He regrets the negative role which he had played in this affair. Jane now returns to Longbourn from London where she has spent several months with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. Elizabeth too returns to Longbourn after her stay at Hunsford. However, Elizabeth does not tell Jane why Mr. Bingley had given up his intention to marry her (Jane).
A Renewal of Hope; and the Fulfilment of the Hope
Then a new development takes place. Mr. Bingley returns to Netherfield Park and pays a visit to the Bennet family in the company of Mr. Darcy, thus renewing his contact with this family. Mrs. Bennet does not attach much importance to this visit by Mr. Bingley because she has ceased to hope that Mr. Bingley would marry Jane. But Mr. Bingley, in paying this visit, has a specific purpose in his mind. Even Jane, who finds Mr. Bingley's talk very agreeable and pleasing, does not have any hope that he would propose marriage to her. But a few days later Mr. Bingley again calls at Longbourn, this time quite alone. He spends an hour or so with the Bennet family and seems to be enjoying his conversation with them. Mrs. Bennet invites him to dine at her house on the following day, and he gladly accepts this invitation. On the following day, he duly calls at Longbourn. Elizabeth gets the feeling that these visits by Mr. Bingley clearly show that he would soon be proposing marriage to Jane. And Elizabeth proves to be quite right in her conjecture. Mr. Bingley finds an opportunity to have a conversation with Jane alone; and, in the course of this conversation, Mr. Bingley does propose marriage to her. Jane's happiness knows no bound. Immediately afterwards she informs Elizabeth of her having got engaged to Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth feels overjoyed to know that her hope had not proved to be false. Jane then hastens to go to her mother to inform her of the happy event. Elizabeth honestly and heartily expresses her delight to Mr. Bingley at his proposal of marriage to Jane, and she shakes hands with her would-be brother-in-law with great cordiality. On coming to know of this development, every member of the Bennet family feels delighted. In due course, Mr. Bingley gets married to Jane; and the marriage takes place on the same day on which Mr. Darcy marries Elizabeth. Mr. Bennet's happiness is also immense. He offers his congratulations to Jane, and says that she would really be happy in her married life. It becomes evident to us that Mr. Darcy must have spoken to. Mr. Bingley and told him that he had been mistaken in thinking that Jane was not as deeply in love with him (Mr. Bingley) as he (Mr. Bingley) had been in love with her. Thus Mr. Darcy plays a positive role just as previously he had played a negative role in the Bingley-Jane love-affair.

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