What better way to start the year that to focus on one of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Join us as Jane Bennet undergoes THE AUSTEN INTERVIEWS.
The Austen Interviews #9:
An Interview with Miss Jane Bennet
JACK CALDWELL: Hello, everyone—Jack Caldwell here. It is Jane Bennet in January time here at Austen Variations. Therefore, this lady is the perfect guest to be in my studio outside of time and space. Let’s have a warm welcome for everyone’s favorite sister from Pride and Prejudice—Miss Jane Bennet.
JANE BINGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Caldwell. You are very kind to invite me.
MRS. BENNET: Oh, yes, very kind! Very kind, indeed!
JC: Thank you, ladies. Err… you do understand the invitation was for Miss Bennet.
JB: My mother wished to accompany me, you see.
MRS. B: You will forget I am here. I shall be a quiet as a mouse.
JC: And you couldn’t say no.
MRS. B: Not here. Not here at all!
JB: It made her so happy to come.
JC: And you’re all about making people happy, or that’s what Jane Austen leads us to believe. Which brings me to my first question: Miss Bennet, are you as nice as Pride and Prejudice suggests?
MRS. B: Of course she is! Besides, she is Mrs. Bingley now!
JC: I beg your pardon, Mrs. Bingley.
JB: It is quite all right. As for your inquiry, I do not know how to properly respond. I treat people well, as we are taught. It is not artifice, I assure you.
MRS. B: What does my son-in-law have to do with this?
JB: It is my nature to assume the best in people, not the worst. It is not foolishness but an attempt to act as a Christian should. However, I am not a Pollyanna. I admit I was deceived by my sister Caroline, and while she has apologized for her actions and I have forgiven her, I cannot forget her transgression. I wish I could fully trust her, but that is beyond me.
MRS. B: Who is this Pollyanna girl, and what connection is she to my Jane? Who is she to us?
JB: I shall explain later, Mama. As for Mr. Wickham, I believe I shall reserve comment on my brother-in-law.
MRS. B: Dear Wickham! So gallant! So handsome! It is a shame he and my dear Lydia are so far in the North! If only my son Darcy would do more for them.
MRS. B: Do not tell Mr. Darcy I said that, I pray you! He gets very annoyed when I speak of Wickham.
JB: Angel! Charles is too kind.
JC: Are you aware not all authors in the Jane Austen genre write you as an angelic Jane? Some question your motivations. You appear in their works as vain, selfish, and conniving.
JB: I cannot say I like it, but you authors are all-powerful.
MRS. B: Rubbish! All rubbish!
JC: Just for the record, I like you as the kind-to-a-fault counterpoint to the somewhat cynical Elizabeth.
JB: Dear Lizzy! Yes, at times she can appear judgmental. She means well and has a good heart.
MRS. B: I always said Lizzy was too impertinent by half. Thank goodness Mr. Darcy married her anyway. Not that there is anything amiss with my dear Mrs. Darcy, mind you! Or Mr. Darcy, for that matter. So refined, so charming! So rich! I am exceedingly proud of her, and Mr. Darcy is as fine a son-in-law as Mr. Bingley.
JC: By the way, Mrs. Bingley, just what do you see in Bingley?
MRS. B: Sir! How dare you!
MRS. B: I will have you know Mr. Bingley is worth five thousand pounds a year! Five thousand, sir!
MRS. B: Well, I am insulted, I can tell you.
JB: There is much to be said for my husband, sir. I always wished to marry for affection. Charles is everything I wished for in my life’s companion.
MRS. B: Yes, his five thousand a year!
JB: Mama! I am fortunate Charles is comfortably situated, but I did not marry him for his money. He is exactly the good, amiable, and well-mannered gentleman I always dreamed of marrying.
JC: Even though he was convinced of your indifference when you first met in Hertfordshire?
MRS. B: WHAT?!
JB: That is true. However, that is all in the past, and we are perfectly happy.
MRS. B: Who did it? Who told such lies? Tell me their names!
JC: You are very forgiving about that, Mrs. Bingley, given the pain it caused you.
MRS. B: It was Lady Lucas, I suspect! Always she has been jealous of my girls!
JB: My heart was utterly broken. I thought I should never marry. But now, in my present joy, I am well acquainted with the motivations of… those involved. I am satisfied.
MRS. B: Or perhaps it was Mrs. Long. One must watch out for the quiet ones!
JB: My life today could not be fuller, married to a wonderful gentleman who loves and respects me.
MRS. B: And I never liked Mrs. Goulding.
JC: Aren’t you a bit concerned that your husband might be too obliging? Too willing to follow other people’s advice?
JB: Charles is naturally modest, but so am I. Still, we have both learned much in our time together. We are much less obliging than one might think. Of course we seek out my brother Darcy’s guidance as the need arises. His advice is uniformly excellent—[SHE LOWERS HER VOICE]—well, mostly.
JC: I get it. So Bingley is safe from influence?
JB: I would not say that. Though, if a wife is clever, she has her own methods of persuasion.
MRS. B: I taught my girls well, did I not?
JC: Pride and Prejudice has been adapted for film several times. Some of the actresses that have portrayed you were Maureen O’Sullivan, Sabina Franklyn, Susannah Harker, Rosamund Pike, and Namrata Shirodkar. Do you have a personal favorite?
JB: All the ladies are quite lovely. I cannot choose among them.
JC: Somehow I knew you’d say that.
MRS. B: Who is that last lady? That name sound very exotic!
JC: How ’bout Bingles? You’ve got your choice of Osmund Bullock, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Simon Woods, or Naveen Andrews.
MRS. B: The… the fourth gentleman? But dear, he is not… is not… English!
JC: Does that matter?
MRS. B: Of course it does!
JC: Oh really? Let’s see what the films did to you, madam.
MRS. B: Me?
JC: Yep. Here are Priscilla Morgan, Alison Steadman, Brenda Blethyn, and Nadira Babbar.
JC: Don’t say it. This is a family-friendly website.
MRS. B: My nerves! My nerves! Jane, my salts! Quickly now!
JB: Here they are, Mama.
MRS. B: Such palpitations in my heart! I feel so ill!
JC: Thank you, Mrs. Bingley. Until next time, I’m Jack Caldwell of The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles.
JB: By the way, Mr. Caldwell, can you provide Mr. Andrew’s direction? I would be ever so obliged.
JC: Okay… maybe not such an angel, after all.