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Monday, 4 April 2016

Jane Austen's Caroline Bingley and Mary Bennet

Caroline Bingley and Mary Bennet do not deserve the bad press they sometimes receive. Caroline behaves as - or better than - most people would in her position. Though she is jealous of Elizabeth (and why shouldn't she be?), she tries to save Lizzy from sinking with Wickham by offering the kindly and truthful warning that he is a shady character. And - on Lizzy's last full day at Netherfield - she leaves Darcy alone with Elizabeth for a whole half-hour.

However calculating she may be, Caroline only speaks the truth as she sees it. When she tells her brother there may be some around who would not want a ball at Netherfield, she is right.

Mary Bennet deserves respect. It is enough for me that a pulchritudinously-challenged teenager works hard at her ‘thorough bass’. It is tedious, repetitive work, requiring exceptional nimbleness in the left hand. Perhaps Mary was to become, in later years, one of the pioneers of boogie-woogie!