The Return of The Austen Interviews
#8 – Another Interview with Miss Caroline Bingley
For those of you living in a cave, this is a series of interviews I have with Jane Austen’s characters, in a studio outside of time and space. I’m an author—I can do that. I’m pleased to re-launch this series with one of the most controversial characters in Jane Austen canon. For your reading pleasure, the original interview from 2011 has been reposted and may be found HERE.
Let’s have a warm welcome for the lady ladies love to hate, from Pride and Prejudice—Miss Caroline Bingley.
JC – Sorry about that, Caroline. May I still call you Caroline?
CB – Would you not if I declined?
JC – Nope.
CB – I thought as much. You may proceed with the inquisition.
JC – C’mon, Caroline. It’s not like that. Remember, I’m one of the few authors that like and defend you.
CB – You did not defend me in THE COMPANION OF HIS FUTURE LIFE.
JC – No, I did not. But that was a comedic exercise in putting Austen’s timeless dialogue in different characters’ mouths, changing the meaning of the words.
CB – The fate you wrote for me was not at all humorous. And that cowboy book! What was the title…?
JC – That was PEMBERLEY RANCH.
CB – I was not treated with care or dignity in that one.
JC – You went off at Beth Bennet like a madwoman.
JC – That wasn’t a marauding horde. That was General William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea.
CB – Is there a difference?
JC – Not really. Back to the interview. You must say I was nice to you in Mr. DARCY CAME TO DINNER and THE THREE COLONELS.
CB – True, and I do appreciate that. But I must complain about how you ended things in THE THREE COLONELS!
CB – There is going to be a sequel?
JC – More about that later. Now, in CRESCENT CITY…
CB – I knew it. We’re here to help you sell books, aren’t we?
JC – Yep.
CB – Popular demand, my eye! Now I see what you are up to.
JC – Put a sock in it, lady. I’m an author—I can do what I want.
JC – You’re not a harlot. You’re a Golden Girl.
CB – But I wasn’t golden.
JC – You weren’t painted golden! It wasn’t a James Bond movie. The Golden Girls is the name of the LSU dance team.
CB – Who dance about in their underthings.
JC – That’s how Golden Girls roll (thank goodness). That what people wore in 1998.
CB – At least I ended up with my Johnny again.
JC – Yep, my usual “darker Darcy”, John Buford.
CB – I see you tend to use the same characters over and over again.
JC – I’m lazy; what can I say? Besides, John Ford used the same actors in many of his films.
CB – So you think you are another John Ford?
JC – Wait a minute! You’ve seen Ford’s movies?
CB – You used your magic author’s powers to move me into the 21st Century. Of course, I’ve seen Mr. Ford’s films.
JC – He’s great, isn’t he?
JC – You’re right. So, how’d you like what I did with you in ELYSIAN DREAMS?
CB – *Sigh* Back to your books again. I have no immediate complaints, but I must wonder about your choice of character that played my mother.
JC – Catherine Bingley?
CB – You know my mother has passed. So, instead of resurrecting her, you gave me a thinly-disguised Lady Catherine de Bourgh?
JC – I had to put her in somewhere. Besides, I gave you a mother.
CB – Thank you for small favors.
JC – You’re welcome. I spread joy wherever I go.
JC – Hey! No giving the plot away!
CB – Really, sir! You placed me in Baton Rouge! Of course, I was in no danger. But what you put my poor Johnny through—I will never forgive you!
JC – Stop talking about the plot!
CB – I suppose I should be grateful. At least I do not act like a manic. As I said before, I have been refashioned into a demon in the world of fiction. No evil is beneath me. I have been portrayed as mean, wicked, insane, or sexually deranged. And I never seem to learn from my errors and mistakes. I’ve become a female version of Mr. Collins!
JC – Yeach!
CB – You said it, buster! I am no Lucy Steele, after all!
JC – You got that right; that was one mean witch. But, I wonder if you would have behaved like the selfish Fanny Dashwood had you succeeded in becoming Mistress of Pemberley.
CB – *Sniff* I like to think I would have acted better than that!
JC – We’ll never know, will we? Aww, don’t get upset! I’ve always thought that you had a bad rep. In a way, you’re the most American character Jane Austen invented, if you don’t count her naval characters.
CB – American? Really, Mr. Caldwell, you do not have to be insulting!
JC – It wasn’t an insult. Look, you’re socially mobile; you wish to move up in the world, rather than remain stuck in the class in which you were born. You couldn’t wait to quit the sphere in which you had been brought up.
Your father made his money through business, rather than sitting back and collecting rents from tenants. He was hard working and ambitious, and desired a better life for his children.
You wanted to marry Darcy for his social stasis. You weren’t in love with him, were you?
CB – Not really.
JC – Marriage was the only option open to women of that period for advancement. Why not go after the best guy available? There is nothing more American that setting your sights on the stars and reaching as high as you can. It is better to try and fail than never try at all.
CB – That sounds vaguely like Casey Kasem.
JC – I suppose. There’s something else that Austen didn’t know.
CB – What would that be?
JC – The Regency was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. British industry with British arms built a world-wide empire. This prosperity destroyed the traditional agrarian economy. In only a few decades, men like your father would be knighted, if not elevated to the peerage. Impoverished titled families would rush to secure the new wealth by marrage and save their estates. They even married Americans! Basically, my dear, you were born before your time.
JC – Nah. He was too smart not to make shrewd investments on the QT. You’re out of luck there.
CB – Oh, well. I have my Johnny, in any case. (SHE SNAPS HER FINGERS) That’s for Fitzwilliam Darcy! Eliza Bennet is welcome to him.
JC – That’s the spirt, Caroline! And thank all of you out there for reading. What do y’all think? Have I changed your opinion of Caroline Bingley? Let’s discuss!
Until next time, I’m Jack Caldwell of The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles.