Discuss the Consequences of Love for Mr Bingley
Throughout the novel Mr Bingley is torn between the love of two people. The first is Mr Darcy. Bingley’s platonic love for his friend is shown by his ‘highest opinion’ of Darcy’s judgement despite their ‘great opposition of character’. The irony is that Bingley’s ‘stronger dependence on [Darcy’s] judgement than [his] own’ causes him to become a victim of Darcy’s pride. Darcy persuades Bingley to leave Jane, motivated in this action by the same reasons he himself abhors a connection with Elizabeth. However, Bingley is more forgivable than the much weaker Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing, who does not love Don John but still trusts him over Hero; although this could be the natural consequence of a patriarchal society in which the opinion of women counted for little. The second object of Bingley’s love is Jane. The love between the two is very traditional. Bingley sees Jane as ‘an angel’, a highly derivative image of celestial perfection which hints at his idealization of her. Jane applauds his ‘happy manners’, a compliment whose lack of deep fervor is probably due to Jane’s timid nature more than a lack of feeling. Although these compliments may seem empty to us, at the time in which Austen was writing outward appearance and behavior was a vital measure of character, used as an indicator of social standing, the most important factor in a marriage. It could be argued that the shallow conventionality of Bingley’s love for Jane is part of what makes it so easy for Darcy to subvert it; or maybe its simplicity shows a purity of affection. Similarly, Claudio and Hero’s relationship follows social norms; Claudio loves Hero because of how ‘fair’ she is, a word suggesting physical beauty, but also purity, as ‘fair’ can also mean light in colour, and white is a symbol of purity. However, his duty to his country and his chivalric role as a soldier took precedence over his affections; he liked her ‘ere [he] went to wars’....
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