The Bingley Sisters Didn’t Come to Make Friends

They were, in fact, very fine ladies; not deficient in good-humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome; had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town; had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds; were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank; and were, therefore, in every respect entitled to think well of themselves and meanly of others.”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice C4

Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst burst onto the Meryton scene believing themselves to be above everyone. They conveniently forget their fortune was made in trade but are “anxious for (their brother to have) an estate of his own” to legitimise their wealth and status. Because they have more money than the Bennet’s, they consider themselves superior, even though the Bennet’s are landed gentry … however the behaviour of Mrs B and the younger daughters does give reason for pause.

They did not come to make friends. They came to legitimise their standing, to live off their brother and, in the case of Miss Bingley, scheme for Mr Darcy’s hand (another way of solidifying her position in society). Mrs Hurst is at least useful that her presence (married woman as chaperone) makes it possible for the Bennet sisters to stay overnight at Netherfield.

If you’d like to discuss Austen with me you can book a Read With Me session