Day 7 and you know what? I’m getting real goddamn tired of Lizzy always getting the guy. What about everyone else in the movie??
WHAT ABOUT CAROLINE BINGLEY?
I think Caroline gets a bad rap. (Remember, we’re just looking at this 2005 movie, not at the character across all of the adaptions.)
And before you ask, yes, I am a little drunk right now while writing this, but hear me out: Caroline doesn’t say anything about Elizabeth that isn’t TRUE.
- Her hem is six inches deep in mud.
- Her family is ridiculous.
- Charles would definitely be marrying below his station
Yes, she’s a bit tactless but she’s trying to get Darcy to notice her, not Lizzy, and Darcy won’t spare two glances in her direction. She’s just trying to make conversation about how cool she thinks Georgiana is and he totally shuts her down.
I just feel bad for her, honestly. Who among us hasn’t acted foolish in front of a guy we liked? Remember that Caroline is mayyybe 21 or 22, and I don’t know about you all, but I was not really a great person at that age either. I made mistakes. I gossiped and talked shit about other women I didn’t like.
I truly think we’ve been looking at Caroline all wrong, instead of trying to understand her motives, we simply judge her for her actions as they appear to Lizzy.
I would even go so far as to posit that Caroline Bingley is no better or worse than Emma Woodhouse—except one is a protagonist and the other is an antagonist.
Allow me to explain by breaking down Caroline’s scenes.
👉🏻 She’s rude at the Meryton Ball.
Well no, we actually don’t see her being rude to anyone. She seems to mostly stay to herself and talk to her brother and his friend, not unlike Darcy, who spends most of the evening also shying away from having to meet new people.
I suppose at some point she must have met Jane and liked her well enough to invite her to dinner the very next day because that happens. The only real scene she has is mentioning to Darcy that they are “a long way from Grovsner Square.” And they are! It’s a witty comment, albeit at the expense of Meryton, but Caroline sees the ball exactly how Darcy first sees it: Full of probably well-meaning but uneducated country folk who she doesn’t know and won’t ever have to interact with very much after tonight. She’s used to high class society balls, and Meryton is definitely several steps down.
Because we watch the plot through Elizabeth’s eyes, we see nothing wrong with Meryton or its residents. But Caroline is the antithesis of Lizzy. Step into her shoes for a moment and see Meryton how she does.
👉🏻 She makes fun of Lizzy when she shows up at Netherfield.
Well duh, of course she’s not friends with Lizzy. They’re rivals for the same dude. Maybe Lizzy isn’t actively trying to catch Darcy, but Caroline can see he’s interested regardless. She’s no dummy. Lizzy’s only confused about it because she doesn’t see Darcy as a catch, and doesn’t understand why Caroline doesn’t like her. But Caroline isn’t wrong here, Lizzy is definitely her rival, and she was smart enough to see that long before anyone else did and start taking evasive maneuvers.
So she tries to subtly put down Lizzy in front of Darcy. Which is honestly not the best of tactics but we’ve all seen women do this to rivals. She makes fun of her family and of her clothes, sure, but Caroline isn’t trying to be nice or make friends with Lizzy. She’s trying to get Darcy to like her and pay attention to her. And it almost works, too!
If Darcy hadn’t ever met Lizzy, I have no doubt he probably would have married Caroline at some point.
This is the Battle Royale for Darcy. When Caroline snipes at Lizzy, she’s fighting for her future! And I cant say I blame her for being angry about losing it to some country girl with an annoying family.
She’s also a bit snipeish to the Bennet women while they’re at Netherfield. Well yeah. They descended on her home without warning like a plague of marriage-minded locusts. Not only is Lizzy threatening her future with Darcy, but Jane and Mrs. Bennet have their sights on her brother. I’d be exasperated too.
👉🏻 Last, she helps to separate Jane and Bingley.
Sure, she’s kind to Jane originally, but being friends with a girl and wanting her to marry into your family are two separate things.
While they’re at the Netherfield ball, Caroline comes up behind Lizzy and basically says “I be got your number, lady.” She’s just letting Lizzy know it’s not going to be easy to snatch Darcy away. But because we see the plot through Lizzy’s eyes, we see this as menacing and confusing. But step into Caroline’s shoes and it’s entirely justified.
And ultimately, she points out to Charles that Jane is unsuitable on the balcony after the ball. She tells him to really consider his choice with an admittedly immature “Really?” As viewers, we want Jane and Bingley to get together but the reality is that Jane would have been wholly unprepared for running a home like Netherfield, and everyone knows it. We have to put aside our modern sensibilities for a moment and realize that love alone isn’t not going to teach Jane or Lizzy how to manage and run a home like Netherfield or Pemberley.
The last we see of Caroline in this movie is barely halfway through, the day after the ball, when they decide to go back to London.
Sure she’s a little smug in her floofy hat, but why shouldn’t she be? She’s successfully gotten her brother away from someone she considers to be a gold digger and she’s gotten Darcy away from Lizzy. She won that round!
And then that’s it. That’s literally all we see of Caroline. We get absolutely no more character development other than the looming idea of her. And even that gets taken away when we find out Anne DeBourgh is supposedly his intended fiancée. Caroline is a replaceable villain, and I think that’s only possible because she’s not really a villain at all.
My point is, we’ve all been Caroline at one point or another, whether we care to believe that or not. We’ve all been the villain in someone else’s story. We just don’t see her side here because we’re not supposed to. Everything about P&P is set up to make us want to root for Lizzy, but if you turn the tables for even a minute, you’ll understand why Caroline does the things she does. There is rhyme and reason to her actions, and that’s the mark of a good character. She’s not single-mindedly evil in this adaption like she’s been made out to be in others.
It makes it hard for me to feel anything but sorry for Caroline. I certainly don’t hate her. I truly hope she found someone to love and married well, because just like the Bennet sisters, Caroline’s future depended on making a good marriage too. The patriarchy fucks with everyone, no exceptions!
That’s all for today folks, I hope I’ve changed your mind even a little about Caroline! Don’t forget to hit me up in the comments with your thoughts. Maybe you have a theory I haven’t thought of yet? See you tomorrow for Day 8, and if you’ve missed Days 1-6, catch then below:
And now that it’s over, here’s all the rest: