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Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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In Pride and Prejudice, why does Mr. Bingley choose a house in rural Hertfordshire?

Quick answer:

Clues in the novel tell us that Mr. Bingley has chosen to take a house in rural Hertfordshire because he owns no country estate but likes to get into the country, because he was pleased with Netherfield when he toured it, and because it is conveniently close to London for him to get easily to his home there.

Expert Answers

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We're not told precisely why Mr. Bingley takes a house in Hertfordshire, but we can put together some of his probable reasons from clues that are dropped in the novel.

We learn that Mr. Bingley has inherited a fortune of 100,000 pounds (about 10,000,000 in today's money) from his deceased father, who had wanted to buy an estate but died before he could do so. Therefore, Mr. Bingley is without a fixed rural home and needs to find a place to rent when he wants to be away from London, riding, shooting, or enjoying the outdoors. We learn that when he does see Netherfield, in Hertfordshire, he is, Mrs. Bennet says:

so much delighted with it that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately [to rent it]; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas.

Of course, this is merely gossip, but it does accord with the upbeat and pleasant Mr. Bingley we meet that he would be favorably impressed with the house and see no reason to hesitate on renting it.

Practical considerations come into effect as we realize that Hertfordshire is only twenty-five miles north of London, where Mr. Bingley already has a home, meaning he can make the trip between Netherfield and London easily. It is also worth noting that Mr. Darcy is his good friend and that Darcy sometimes visits his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who lives slightly south of London in Rosings. This means that the Rosings location is not too far from Netherfield, either. Hertfordshire is a convenient location and Netherfield a suitable house, so Bingley decides to rent there.

However, the community is far less interested in why he might decide to rent there than in his potential as a rich husband.

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