Let’s Take a Look at Mr. Bingley, by Jann Rowland

Let’s Take a Look at Mr. Bingley, by Jann Rowland

I’ve been thinking a bit of Mr. Bingley lately. When I finished my surgery and the recovery time after, I spent quite a bit of time outlining future stories, and there was one in particular that deals with Mr. Bingley and his character. Let’s take a closer look at him, shall we?

Mr. Bingley is, as we are told, a man of easy temperament,  happy in company and at ease in any situation. Jane Austen describes him thus:

Mr. Bingley was good looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners.

That is little enough to go on, other than to note that he is pleasant and handsome, eager to please. I have often seen writers refer to Bingley as a puppy, which is an excellent description for him in my opinion. Further to this, we learn that he is excellent friends with Darcy, and can be rather impulsive, as his conversation with Darcy about his ability to make a decision in minutes can attest.

But Bingley is not perfect. While he’s the life of any party, he is easily influenced and lacks in confidence, to the extent that he relies on Darcy’s opinion more than his own. In short, he is a bit of a jellyfish, and at times, ruled by his shrewish sister and his more forceful friend. But all is not lost, for he attains a bit of a backbone by the end of the book. In the 1995 version, when he meets Jane again, the first thing he does is apologize to her, saying he has been the most “unmitigated and comprehensive ass.” That comment is rather astonishingly self-aware for Bingley!

How does Bingley come into this growth? The specifics are never mentioned explicitly. We are told Darcy confesses his role in separating him from Jane, and the results of that conversation are evident. We are told that Bingley was offended by Darcy’s concealment of Jane’s presence in London, but his offense did not last long in true Bingley fashion. One can assume that his anger with Caroline and Louisa did not last much longer, though we are not told directly.

I have long thought that Jane was the primary reason for Bingley’s reformation. Yes, Darcy’s confession and Bingley learning of Jane’s affection provided encouragement. If it had been anyone other than Jane, would Bingley have acted in such a manner? Perhaps he would have, though I am uncertain. I suppose it would depend in a large part on his attachment to that woman.

Readers often asked me why Bingley did not reform in The Mistress of Longbourn. My reason at the time was because Jane was not present in that novel, and though Bingley paid attention to Kitty, he did not feel enough for her to mend his ways. The only other work of mine in which Bingley did not end up with Jane was Chaos Comes to Kent, and in that one Darcy did not remain in Hertfordshire long enough to influence him, and Caroline pulled him away from Jane the first chance she got. And when Colonel Fitzwilliam showed interest in Jane, well that was the end for Bingley.

Given Bingley’s character, I’ve often thought he could easily go the other way. I like the character and I generally pair him with Jane, but he’s such a squish that it is entirely believable that he would continue to be spineless, and that path in life would lead him away from Jane. It’s fortunate, indeed, that most readers don’t batt an eyelash when Jane is not paired with him. I have two more planned where she’s not!

Those are my thoughts of Mr. Bingley for the present. I wanted to note that Bonds of Friendship, the first in the Bonds of Life duology will be available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited on Thursday next week. My son, Andrew, is doing the cover for me, as I wanted something a little different than my usual covers. Andrew’s pretty good at that sort of thing, so I’m looking forward to what he produces. It should be ready soon; when it is, I’ll do a cover reveal on FB. Once again, remember the first book ends on a rather enormous cliffhanger. Luckily, the second book is plotted and will be ready by summer.

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Marie H
Marie H
February 7, 2022 6:52 AM

I think we sometimes forget that Bingley is somewhat younger than Darcy and, in my opinion doesn’t have the life experience of a landed gentleman yet. I have a tender spot in my heart for his character and I love it when an author steps out of the box and gives him a stronger personality.

Nancy Mayer
Nancy Mayer
January 7, 2022 4:30 PM

I don’t think of him as a puppy but more as insecure. He knows the upperclasses look down at those in trade and that only his wealth and Darcy’s friendship make him acceptable to society in Town but that he really will never rise above being a rich man of the merchant class. I think he needs to meet Mr. Gardner and learn that the gentry and aristocracy are not the only people in the world.. He will marry Jane and settle down to be a pleasant country squire

March 13, 2021 8:03 PM

I like Mr Bingley but decidedly more when he acquires a backbone. Thanks for sharing your insight into his character.

Sue Barr
Sue Barr
March 4, 2021 1:01 PM

I’m not a big Mr. Bingley fan myself. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that it takes until August – AUGUST – of the following year for Mr. Darcy to tell him how he manipulated him away from Jane, and then – ONLY THEN – does he make the effort to return. Aaaaarrrrgh! Nine months! He and Jane could have been welcoming their first born if he’s stuck around.
I’m also not happy that Darcy did not inform him immediately following the Hunsford debacle. I address this in my current WIP, and I’m not kind.

Patricia Noda
Patricia Noda
March 4, 2021 11:08 AM

Love your “squish” comment! Reading the various P&P stories, there are times I want to scream for Bingley to wake up, get a backbone, etc. I like the stories where Jane realizes he will never change, her blinders are more “opaque” and she moves on.
Glad you’re doing better.

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
March 4, 2021 10:49 AM

So glad you are healing and posting news. Bingley is such a blank canvas that you can do just about anything with him. He can be such a … what did you call him… a squish? Love it. However, I have seen him paired with Mr. Gardiner and/or the Colonel and their business acumen gave them knowledge of … say the docks… and mem that could get a job done for them. Talk about a backbone. Then we see him being led by the nose by his pernicious sisters. LA! You can do anything with him. I can’t wait to see what you do. As for Jane, sometimes I think she settled. Or, maybe she liked the fact he wouldn’t give her any trouble and would be putty in her hands. She saw her father ignore and ridicule her mother all her life and Bingley would never do that. It simply wasn’t in him. Also, he would not spend his time in the library or his office ignoring his family. Perhaps, Jane didn’t settle after all. Bingley was everything her father wasn’t. However, I like seeing her paired with others. Blessings on your new launch and I hope it goes well. You and your family take care and stay safe, and healthy.

Caryl Kane
Caryl Kane
March 3, 2021 5:30 PM

Beautiful cover, Jann! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Mr. Bingley!

Teresa Broderick
Teresa Broderick
March 3, 2021 3:59 PM

I love the way you called Bingley a ‘squish’!! :):)

Riana Everly
March 3, 2021 11:18 AM

Ah, Mr. Bingley. I never know how I feel about him. He’s such a nice guy, but he’s so wishy-washy at the same time. I sometimes wonder if Jane deserves better. At the end of P&P, does she accept him because she really loves him, or because he’s the best thing that’s come along? I know she says how happy she is, but she is someone who always looks for the brightest side of every coin, so of course she’ll be pleased with her choice.
I quite like stories where their path isn’t so smooth. Sometimes they end up together, sometimes they don’t, but I like seeing a lot of growth on both of their parts.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
March 3, 2021 10:24 AM

I like Bingley! He does seem rules by his sister who seems to have an iron fist! And Darcy seems to advise too but he also can admit when he’s wrong probably under duress!lol Sounds like a good book!

March 3, 2021 9:46 AM

Always glad when Jane and Bingley are paired as I dont like the Colonel and Jane pairing, though the only pairing I like is Mary and the Colonel

Gianna Thomas
March 3, 2021 5:22 AM

I’ve always liked Bingley but felt he may have been browbeaten by Caroline since he was a youth. I’m the oldest in my family and have three brothers. So, I know from experience that can be done and, hopefully, I didn’t become a Caroline Bingley. Since my brothers seem to be their own men, perhaps they survived me. To me, though, Bingley is more or less a malleable character that could go either way, and maybe that’s something readers understand are are accepting of. Now if an author changed Darcy’s or Elizabeth’s personalities drastically that might not be acceptable. Look forward to when your latest is available. 🙂

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