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Episode 59: Mr Darcy & Mr Bingley a Regency bromance with Ben Mercer

Who's ready to take a closer look at one of literature's most iconic friendships? Get ready as we unravel the dynamic bond between Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice! For this captivating conversation about camaraderie, I'm joined by best-selling author Ben Mercer. 

In this episode, we will shine a spotlight on the representation of male friendships within Pride and Prejudice and draw parallels to modern friendships. Bingley and Darcy showcase a delightful dance of mutual dependence and respect, essentially the OG bromance, and we will delve into how sincerity and respect form the backbone of any lasting connection. So, grab a coffee and join us as we celebrate this literary duo!"

Where can you find Ben? 

Insta & TikTok @bcemercer


Article by Jill Suttie

 ‘Intimate friendships with men, sometimes called “bromances,” can be even more fulfilling than romantic relationships with women, perhaps because men feel more understood by other men and assume men friends will be more loyal and willing to help in time of need.’

‘But men also have fewer close male friends for other reasons, too. Societal pressures to conform to a particular model of masculinity can hamper the development of intimacy with others. This starts at a young age, when boys are given the message they should not express their emotions or seek emotional comfort from other boys lest they be condemned for being too “soft,” “feminine,” or “gay.”’ 


Izzy Meakin: 0:19

Hi J Knights and welcome back to the what the Austin podcast. I have a wonderful guest lined up today. I am joined by bestselling author and book talker, Ben Mercer. Today's topic is going to be friendship, specifically looking at Bing Lee and Darcy's friendship in Pride and Prejudice. So really excited for this conversation. Me and Ben have chatted a little bit prior, so I think it's going to be a really good one and I hope you enjoy it. Welcome, Ben. It's such a pleasure to have you with me.

Ben Mercer: 0:42

No, what a treat. Thanks for having me.

Izzy Meakin: 0:45

Absolutely so. The question I ask all of my guests is what got you into Jane Austen originally?

Ben Mercer: 0:51

I was trying to think about that earlier actually and I never actually got her as a set text, I don't think Maybe not till university. So I kind of came to her a bit later when I was just sort of reading around some of the classics that I hadn't kind of gotten into, and I think maybe Northanger Abbey was the first one or maybe that was university text. But then after that then I had a kind of, you know, pride and Prejudice has that's obviously been adapted into so many great, like you know, tv and film adaptations. And then last year actually maybe two years ago now, when we did the Tiktok Book Club, persuasion was the first set text and I hadn't actually read Persuasion before. So that was really fun to get to do that.

Ben Mercer: 1:32

But yeah, I love, you know, I love Austin. I think it's one of the classics that really is sort of more readable. I think it's written in such a modern prose style that they're so approachable. So I'm always like, if people are asking which classics to read when they haven't really read any, I'm like, oh, you should definitely do Jane Austen, because it's a bit more accessible, you know like in terms of its style, than something like a Dickens or you know, like Henry James or something like that, where it's a bit kind of thick and opaque, and I think Austin is also just really funny. So it's just, yeah, I love it. I think I think she's great.

Izzy Meakin: 2:05

No, I totally agree. Yeah, there is definitely something that's easier about Austin than other literary authors. I think it's just easy going storylines, but also, like you said, like the actual writing itself isn't so dense and heavy like some of the crazy stuff. I remember I read it like at uni, some of the stuff I was like, oh my gosh, like this is tough. But yeah, is your background in English literature then Is that what you did at uni?

Ben Mercer: 2:30

Yeah, yeah. So I was. That was always my favorite subject at school and then I, when I was thinking about going to university, that was really the only thing that I had any interest in doing. So yeah, I was. I was English lit all the way and I went to Newcastle and studied it there and I've always kind of I went into rugby after that. But I've always considered doing master's courses and I've done some writing and stuff. But I think eventually I'll get back to uni and do some more studying of some sort, but I don't really know quite what it is yet.

Izzy Meakin: 2:58

I know I always have that pull myself or it's just like I want to go back. I must learn more. I must write more on this. Yeah, definitely, that pull is always there.

Ben Mercer: 3:07

I want to do it as a vanity project, though you know it's like for no use whatsoever. Me and my my friend's wife we were on the same course at uni and we talk about it a lot. We're like when we're old we'll go back to uni and, like pure vanity masters, we'll go and do it, it'll be great.

Izzy Meakin: 3:21

Yeah, yeah, totally get that. It's also funny as well, because one of the first things that I saw online with you was that reel that you made that you went to Jane Austen, the Jane Austen Center, and somebody thought you were an actor there, right, because they saw you like in costume or something. They wanted a photo with you.

Ben Mercer: 3:39

So there's I'm from Bath and there's you know, austen was very connected to Bath, as I'm sure you all know on the pod, and yeah, I went. I was like, well, I've never actually been in here. So I went and visited and on the way around, they've got these like costumes that you can try on. And this girl who works there, who's dressed as Elizabeth Bennett like, was like oh, you know, put this jacket on me. And then there's the there's some people visiting from China. And she said, oh, can we have a? You know, can we have photo video with you? You'd say happy, happy birthday to my son. And I was like I don't work here. She was like, oh, I don't mind. So I was like, okay, well, I didn't mind either. So, um, yeah, we did a video asking the kind of is it a tricorn hat and a sort of Admiral-ish jacket. You know, it was quite funny.

Izzy Meakin: 4:26

I love that. That's actually so hilarious. When I saw it I was like that's absolutely brilliant. So, yeah, you might get cast. You know it's in like a future adaptation, they might pick you up, they might see that reel and be like oh, perfect.

Ben Mercer: 4:37

Yeah, I'm open for business and I, you know, I said I was like, do I get a job at the center? And then they're yet to come back to me. But you know, I can keep trying.

Izzy Meakin: 4:46

Yeah, no, I think that's absolutely brilliant and I actually massive disclaimer. I've never been to the center, so I've been to Bath, but I went during COVID, so I can go in, but I am going this year, I'm going to go when I go to the festivals. So, yeah, really excited.

Ben Mercer: 5:01

Oh what you're going to go to the actual Austin festival, yeah.

Izzy Meakin: 5:03

Yeah, so I was meant to go last year but that kind of fell free for me. So I'm actually going with Kaylee, who a lot of people know on the podcast, because she's a recurring guest and we've actually met through the podcast. But yeah, she's coming over from the US and we're going to go together, so I'm super excited for that.

Ben Mercer: 5:18

You're going to have the best time. The place is hilarious because obviously it's just like a. It's a beautiful city, but it is just a normal place. And then suddenly there's hundreds of people, yeah, yeah, like full regalia, like wandering around. You're just like what is going on. But, yeah, it's great, you're just going to. Yeah, you're going to have the best time.

Izzy Meakin: 5:36

Yeah, I think so. I'm super excited for it. So, yeah, that is later in the year for me. So we've kind of chatted a little bit about how we want today to go. But as all the episodes go, guys, it's probably just going to flow and we'll see where things take us. I thought it'd be really good to chat about, maybe, like your first experience reading Pride and Prejudice, is the Darcy Bingley friendship something that stood out to you when reading it? Because I feel like it's something that's taken me a little while to recognize is significance.

Ben Mercer: 6:07

Yeah, I think you know, and sort of by design, you're drawn to the sisters, aren't you?

Ben Mercer: 6:12

And principally Elizabeth and then probably Jane.

Ben Mercer: 6:16

But yeah, I think their friendship, the more you investigate it, the more complex and deep you realize it is. I think, and yeah, I mean, when you first come across them, one is just, it seems very obvious, it seems like you know one's kind of like fun and you know nice and the others kind of stayed and boring, and you're like, oh actually, and then the more you get into it, the more you realize that actually they're quite codependent in a way and they sort of bring the best out of each other in some respects and that it's actually probably the best functioning friendship in the book really in a lot of ways. You know there's obviously the results of the friendship are not always optimal, but actually what they're trying to do in the way that they communicate between the two of them is actually like is actually quite good. I think for the most part, you know the book is predicated on, you know, a big misunderstanding in some respect, but I think in a way those two they always behave towards each other for the right reasons, I think.

Izzy Meakin: 7:23

In general, oh, I love that. Yeah, there's definitely a respect there which I think super important and I think something that really I think for me stands out a lot of like men in my life who have male friendships. Respect actually does kind of form the foundation a lot of the time. If the respect's not there, it just crumbles anyway. So it's kind of something that's needed. I think I'm not saying that's not needed in female friendships as well, but I think there's a more significance placed on it by men. I don't know if you find that yourself.

Ben Mercer: 7:52

Yeah, I think you want to know you can rely. You know you need that, like you want to be able to rely on your friend for something. And I think you know Bingley can obviously rely on Darcy for his counsel and for his sort of his deep thinking and his sincerity. But actually Darcy also sort of needs Bingley to like make him fun and drag him places, and you know we all need that fun friend. Sometimes he's going to like get you out of your own way and while Darcy sort of claims to resent it and he's like you know, I don't want to be at this dance and you know this is this is boring and silly and it's like, but he's still there, he's still, he's still allowed his you know, sort of some slightly sort of foppish friend to like drag him out. And I think it's like, well, if he didn't respect him and his judgment and what he wants to do, he wouldn't go.

Izzy Meakin: 8:39

So yeah, yeah, I think there's actually a good point. A bit later, when they're when Jane's at Neverfield and she's sick, and there's this massive debate between Darcy, bingley, caroline and Elizabeth, and Bingley actually says, you know, on a normal Sunday night Darcy's just chilling at home like he's doing nothing and Darcy's like slightly offended by it because I think he's a bit embarrassed that he's telling Elizabeth that. But it's just funny that they know that about each other. And I'd love to chat a little bit about the initial description of their friendship as well, because I think this is like such an incredible outline of a friendship in a book because, considering, like you said, like we focus on the sisters and we focus on the romantic side of the book, there's something to be said that when an author sets out like a whole paragraph just to describe a friendship, I feel like that in itself suggests that it's important. So the quote goes between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship In spite of great opposition of character.

Izzy Meakin: 9:39

Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness and ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and they were this own never seemed dissatisfied On the strength of Darcy's regard. Bingley had the firmest reliance and none of his judgment. The highest opinion In understanding Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, fastidious and by manners, though well-bred were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared. Darcy was continually giving offence and I just love that. In that, in like one paragraph, you can really outline the difference of their characters but also why their friendship really works, that they need that kind of opposition of character to then actually balance each other out.

Ben Mercer: 10:29

They're almost like a couple, you know, in terms of. You know they make a complete whole when you listen to that paragraph and yeah, I think that it really is, yeah, a complete kind of entity between two of them and actually an amazing self-awareness. You know. They both recognize that their own personal kind of failings or, you know, like weaker points, and actually they can find they can redress those, like through their friend, and actually that's an amazing kind of self-awareness. And not only that, you know not only kind of the regard of someone else, but actually to know who you are and like what you're good and bad at, and I think actually that's quite mature. Yeah, and maybe it's not so present in some of the other kind of dynamics in the book.

Izzy Meakin: 11:16

Ooh, yeah, I think that's so true. And also what I love is now your character seems to judge the other for their differences. I think that again that comes up later in the book. But I think sometimes Elizabeth can judge Jane slightly, the fact that she is a little bit more empathetic. But I feel like Dorsi doesn't judge Bingley for his difference in character.

Ben Mercer: 11:36

No, I think that's true and actually you can see that because they can poke fun at each other, particularly Bingley, you know, prodding, poking the bear in the, you know, in these social situations. But actually that he can do that means that yeah, there is a level of respect and kind of love and appreciation between the two of them. Because yeah, I think if you can't mock something then it's too delicate a topic and I think actually the ability for them to do that and the confidence they have in their friendship means that they can kind of poke fun like that or even discuss those personal differences in company, and actually some of the other characters would not brook that discussion.

Izzy Meakin: 12:18

It's so true. It cracks me up when he's like I must have you dance. I hate to see you stunning about yourself in this stupid manner. I'm going to much better dance. And then Dorsi's just there, like I don't find anybody attractive here. There's loads of people. What are you on about?

Ben Mercer: 12:31

Bingley's like it's babes everywhere. Come on pal, and he's just Great play. But you know, I actually feel his pain. It's like I'm really dislike, you know, unless I'm you know a few sheets to the wind, then it's like I'm not a big dancer, so I'm just like, oh no, but yeah, sometimes you do need someone to get you out of your own way and actually that's like that's pretty funny.

Izzy Meakin: 12:53

Yeah, I think so as well. It just kind of cracked me up slightly, I think just to jump back in quickly.

Ben Mercer: 12:58

I think the other thing is, you know, saying that Bingley, you know he's not deficient in intelligence and you know, back to the quote you read out. But actually you know, intelligence manifests in different forms and the ability to be liked and to walk into a social situation and to get on with everyone. That is an amazing form of intelligence. And you know, from my friends at school there's our friend who's kind of the least academically inclined, you know, like you know not to be too mean, but actually amazing in social situations. You know, and he could, you know we do bits of laboring in the summers and he'd be there, you know, hacking cigarettes with all these other guys and you know.

Ben Mercer: 13:34

But he and now his work, you know he works in kind of high-end recruitment and he's dealing with executives and stuff like that and he's a real social chameleon. He's got that understanding of people and I think something like Bingley, like yeah, me, and he says you know, oh, you know, I kind of I don't have an eye for detail, you know these are my sort of weaknesses, but actually he can walk in a room and talk to people and make a situation kind of fun and interesting. That is an intelligence. You know that you know. Intelligence is not necessarily you know academic or studied. It's also in the moment.

Izzy Meakin: 14:08

Yes, and also if you're someone who is more academically inclined, you could spend your life learning how to be more socially intelligent, you know, because it is a necessary skill in life and I think Darcy has the benefit that he's already established. But Bingley has to be inviting and get on with the people in this community because he wants to move to that area. So it wouldn't benefit Bingley at all to be snobbish and rude and not want to get involved with the community which, in fact, with his position, he'd probably be leading.

Ben Mercer: 14:42

Yeah, he wants, he needs to start the party, right, and you know, and also, like you say, he's trying to establish himself and he's trying to meet someone he's like, well, I want, you know, this is what I want, so, and he's actually, you know, this is actually also what Darcy wants, even if he won't admit it to himself, right, and Bingley understands that about his friend. So, yeah, I think actually it's a kind of they do have an amazing degree of understanding, you know, of the other.

Izzy Meakin: 15:08

Yeah, something that I love as well is the way that they approach social classes is quite different, and we see that at Marathon Ball, like that first assembly, the fact that Darcy's, like you know, being snobbish and doesn't want to get involved with everyone and Bingley's living his best life. But you see that a few more times, especially when Caroline's kind of kissing up to Darcy a lot and being like, oh, like you know, she, they have aunts and uncles in Cheapside and like trying to make out how they're like really beneath everybody. But Bingley's, like they could have aunts and uncles to fill the whole of Cheapside. I wouldn't care one bit, and I think then Darcy's response being well, it would just mean that they'll struggle to marry. Well, because of that, I think it's so important for Darcy to have a friend who humbles him. Every so often he's literally just like yes, but that's not the point, like you know. I mean, we're all human at the end of the day and let's not think because we have money, that we are somehow superior to everybody else around us.

Ben Mercer: 16:06

I think Darcy, yeah, he, that is his great sort of issue, isn't it? That he is in his own way, I think, like what he does later proves that he has a kind of sort of humility and, you know, like he goes to these places to seek out Wickham and, you know, redress this situation. But, but, yeah, I mean, everything with Darcy does sort of relate back to his cash hammer, doesn't it? So I think he's probably a little more humble than he initially lets us see. But yeah, that is definitely his. His is not very endearing, is it where he's just like, oh, there's no point, because look at these people, you're like, well, you know, you're a bit of a dick.

Izzy Meakin: 16:50

Yeah, I think as well. I think Bingley recognizes that, because Darcy by all means doesn't necessarily need to be friends with somebody like Bingley, Although they're both kind of in landed gentry, like I said, Darcy's really established, so actually even choosing to be friends with Bingley shows that he isn't actually quite the pompous, proud person he makes out to be and he spends too much time with the Bingleys right, and I love that. Bingley, compared to his sister, does not kiss up to Darcy and I think that's why Darcy respects and loves Bingley the way that he does and has absolutely no respect or love towards Caroline because she's constantly trying to like kiss up to him, Whereas Bingley's like just makes fun of Darcy.

Ben Mercer: 17:26

Like we said before, she almost mirrors Darcy's worst behaviors back at him, doesn't she? In terms of like the snobbery and those sorts of things. And you're right, his kind of rejection of her in a way is a rejection of the worst parts of himself, and you're right. Like you know, the fact that he hangs out with Bingley and enjoys it and persists is a sort of it's a sort of continued effort to engage with the wider world. You know, rather than you know, like the sort of marriage that's been sort of set up for him on the other side and his sort of lack of desire to actually follow through with that is an indication of being like no, no, there is a kind of bigger world and more interesting world out here, as the Elizabeth ends up being his kind of, you know, the sort of final puncture to his pomposity.

Izzy Meakin: 18:23

Yes, I love that, but I think that's so important in friendships as well.

Izzy Meakin: 18:27

It'd be good to hear your thoughts on this, but for me, the friendships that I've seen to you have valued the most over the years are the ones where I've actually recognized something in myself that I want to change, because I've seen a great quality in one of my friends, like one of my bestest friends. She has fantastic girl codes, like it's loyal and like I know she'd have my back like anything that went on, like she would be there even above herself sometimes, which we can discuss whether or not that's good or bad, but yeah, I just think in from being friends with her and witnessing that it's made me a better woman and the friend that I am to people as well, because I'm like I want to show up the way that she does for my friends. So I don't know about you as well. Is it, like you know? It's that learning from the people around you, choosing to be friends with people, that you see qualities that you might not have but you want to have?

Ben Mercer: 19:16

Oh, definitely, I think I'm very lucky. I've got a group of friends, you know, we've been at school together from about seven so that and I've got, you know, friends from university and other places. But there are kind of a group of us who are all still friends now and, yeah, you definitely sort of see in in the others. You're like, oh well, he actually kind of there's one guy who really gets out of his own way and sort of tries things. You know just sort of he doesn't over research, whereas I have a sort of tendency to be a bit over analytical before doing anything, whereas he's someone who just jumps to feet in and what's.

Ben Mercer: 19:51

Other friend who's really good in social situations got another friend who's kind of just very like chill, like nothing's too, you know, nothing's too exciting or too, you know, too awful. He's always just like, yeah, yeah, yeah. And you know, you see these qualities and you just sort of every now and again use them to like redress your own direction every so often. Oh, you know, if he did that, what would he do? You're like, okay, well, why wouldn't I? You know, why don't I try that once, rather than carry on in my same, my same sort of patterns, I suppose?

Izzy Meakin: 20:20

Yeah, no, I love that and also that's a great point that you've brought up there, because obviously you're saying you have a friendship group and I feel like in literature a lot of the time maybe more in like postmodern texts, like I remember reading a lot of like Julian Barnes and stuff in in his texts it's often bigger friendship groups. It's not these like one on one friendships. So I feel like personally that the Bingley Darty Dynamics is quite unique in the sense that it's not a group of men who are friends, who, like you said, have grown up together, which in my experience with, like my male friends, like they tend to have a group that they've grown up with. So yeah, I think it's it's interesting that there's the two of them.

Ben Mercer: 20:58

I think that they're rare in the book, right, because, you know, and I think the fact that they can be so sincere with each other is something else, and I think I feel like I can be sincere with my male friends and that doesn't happen all the time and it does tend to happen more in a one to one environment. And actually Elizabeth and Charlotte you know Charlotte, you know Elizabeth turns out Mr Collins and then Charlotte kind of goes behind her back and accepts his proposal and Elizabeth's like why didn't you? You know, why don't you say anything? And so in some ways, you know, the Bingley Darty thing is much more kind of profound and sincere than Elizabeth's, because it's like, well, if that's your best friend and she couldn't even talk to you about this thing because she wouldn't understand it, you know she couldn't even talk through it with you. Actually, that's quite serious. Whereas you know, like the Bingley Darty thing is like, no, he's like I think you're making a big mistake and even though he's wrong, he's only acting on what he's seen and you know the for the reasons he explains, you know, to Elizabeth.

Ben Mercer: 21:55

So, yeah, I think the, the sincerity thing, is the thing that's tough in groups of men. I would, in my experience, and particularly in a kind of you know, in the sort of rugby team environment, those things are tough and actually being sincere and really putting yourself out there is, you know, it's really really hard, whereas in the one to one environment it's much easier to do and I think actually every time you do it you also you come away from you know that interaction with us with a strengthened friendship. Usually I don't know, you know what you're disclosing, you know like in my experience, Deepest dark as sea.

Ben Mercer: 22:34

Yeah, yeah, you know, as long as there's no bodies or bodies to bury or anything like, you're probably going to come away with a better friend, you know.

Izzy Meakin: 22:42

Yes, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I was typing notes at the same time. She made me think about loads of different things there, one of them being, yes, I think the Charlotte Lizzie friendship is a great one to compare it to. Because even when Charlotte actually explains her choice, like she says, like I'm not romantic, I want a comfortable home Like this is a great opportunity for me Lizzie still doesn't get it. She's like I feel betrayed that you don't see the world the way that I do.

Izzy Meakin: 23:07

And that reminds me very much of a conversation I had with my dad about male friendships compared to female friendships, and I think my dad said something like he says he often observes with women that they can be that a bit more like catty and judgmental and have a tendency to maybe gossip about people and everything.

Izzy Meakin: 23:25

And he said, whereas he said with his friends he's much older, like you know, in his 50s now, so he's not got that many male friends, but he still has a few. But he said I wouldn't be inclined to talk about my male friends out publicly, you know, I mean I wouldn't disclose anything about them. And I think that's very interesting and I do think that goes to that kind of intimacy and how close you are with somebody, because I know with my closest friends I would never talk about them behind their back or like disclose anything that you wouldn't want me to. But I feel like men have a loyalty that's often much stronger than you see in women's friendships, and I do think that's interesting. I don't know whether that is because it's more difficult for them to be open, so when, when they are, I'm making judgments here, when they are, then they actually feel like, wow, this is a, this is an important connection for me. I need to protect this.

Ben Mercer: 24:17

Yeah, maybe maybe it's like you say, with the kind of the rarity of a more vulnerable interaction means it's taken with greater gravity. I don't know. I think that the Charlotte and Elizabeth thing is also, you know, obviously she, you know women are on the back foot in the kind of social hierarchy and so Charlotte's kind of protecting, like, say, her interests more than she's kind of advancing her kind of emotional existence, I suppose. But yeah, I think there's obviously that kind of power dynamics taken to account, why she wouldn't kind of disclose what she's thinking of doing In case maybe Elizabeth reconsidered or something. I'm not sure. But but yeah it's, I don't know, it's a funny one, I think. Yeah, men, maybe they do take those disclosures with more weight, but maybe that's just because they don't happen very often or maybe they don't, maybe they get fewer opportunities to tell people about that mate.

Izzy Meakin: 25:14

No, no, I think this is true. I found an article, which I will tag everything below guys in the bio, as usual, but it was basically on women receiving more emotional support from their friends than men do, and I think I sent this to you. But there's like a whole scale and it shows, you know, received emotional support from a friend 41% of women over 21% of men. I'm told a friend you love them like. 49% of women. Over 25% of men. Shared personal feelings or problems with a friend 48% of women over 30% of men. So that that was suggest to me that either men struggle to share these, these more intimate feelings with their male friends, or that maybe male, like men in society, are actually struggling to find these close male friends in general, which, yeah, I mean, I think that in itself is a good topic to talk on.

Ben Mercer: 26:06

Yeah, I think it's probably a bit of both. I mean, like when I've had difficult periods and maybe my kind of early 20s, I think I lacked the. I lacked the language or the kind of the concept of that. I couldn't express myself in a way that would allow me to receive that emotional support. You know, I didn't know how to do it, whereas I feel later, once I stopped playing rugby and it was a big transitional time, so I was like, you know, I need to find a new career and I didn't want to doing, and you know, I had a personal relationship end, so, but then I was much more able to sort of say you know, I'm finding this difficult, or you know, I'd love some advice, or you know, and actually I found my friends were more than capable of giving me amazing advice, but actually I needed the tools to go and get it, you know, and they would not venture that, they wouldn't try and crack my dam.

Ben Mercer: 27:03

They might try and help me in a kind of a bleak way, you know, like invite me to do stuff, but they, you know, I would have to open up the possibility of a discussion myself and I, when I was younger, I don't think I knew how to do that and it's something, as I've got an older, that I feel I've gotten a lot better at it. It's not like I'm suddenly you know, suddenly this was Zen master who's who's perfect to this sort of thing, but I think I've just got, I have gotten better, but I maybe women are more forthcoming with help and support if they see the need, whereas maybe men, you almost need to like open up yourself to that support and like make make it clear that you would like it, because I don't think anyone wants to say, hey, mate, looks like you're having a. You look terrible, terrible, let's sit down, you know. So I think maybe there's there's that I think women are probably better at both venturing and probably asking for support from their friends.

Izzy Meakin: 28:06

Love that and I read another article by Jill Stutty which actually talks about that, in the sense that as you're growing up as a man, often you go through these stages, like when you're in primary school.

Izzy Meakin: 28:17

Sometimes it's easy to make friends because you're all just like rough and tumble, you just having a great time together. Then when you hit teenagers, it can all it could be a little bit more difficult because sometimes there's this pressure that having a close relationship with other men, you know you can be like scrutinized, like oh, you're really feminine, you're being really soft, and that can often put men off from being open. And then it's relearning that, like you said, when you hit your 20s into your 30s, it's relearning. Actually, how do you have these really important close relationships with other men? Because, like you said, I mean you're not always going to be in a relationship with somebody so that you've got that partner, but also do you want to put all your eggs in that basket as well? You know you sometimes you need these people outside of a relationship that you can confide in and you can talk to and feel safe doing that.

Ben Mercer: 29:03

Yeah, and I think you're right, the opportunities for friendship decreases. You get older and I think partly it's the decline of like the group activity, I think for men. The thing you sent me was talking. One of the things you said was talking about the importance of like group activities and I obviously had that a lot with sport when I was growing up and then into my work life, and I think there's a kind of decline of these things anyway, like the kind of the economic environment is very difficult and people are now a lot of these things relied on people volunteering and people now either don't have the time or kind of expect to be paid for for their work. I think you see that with a lot of like sports clubs.

Ben Mercer: 29:37

I think the other thing is, yeah, I mean I've made a really good friend in the last couple of years. We met on an online course during lockdown and he just was sending he just sent a load of DMs basically to other people on the course and we had a zoom call and then, you know, once the lockdown was over, we met up. But there's a point where I was like what does this go one? You know, I'm like, I think you're like, I think I'd like to be friends with him, but it's like what does he want? And then it turns out, yeah, and now we're great friends.

Ben Mercer: 30:07

And actually he works in a very freelance manner, similar to me, and so I've kind of got a couple of friends who are sort of freelancy and we're not all in touch with each other, but every so often people check in on the others. It's like send the old text how's it been going? And it tends to be when someone's up, someone else is down, and so we've got this sort of slightly informal network of freelance support, I suppose, which is quite funny. But yeah, I think when you're a bit older you are a bit like to let someone in feels like a much bigger leap, I suppose. And yeah, you are a bit like what do they want? And sometimes like no, they just want to make a friend.

Izzy Meakin: 30:53

Just want to be friends. Yes, no, I think that's so true and I think I don't think that's specific just to men. I feel like I found that, as I've. You know, when you leave uni and then you go into your career, and for me, I was working for myself for a few years, which was kind of isolating, and, like you, I have a friendship group that I grew up with. So, luckily, I had those people in my life.

Izzy Meakin: 31:14

But creating the podcast and meeting people through that meant that I've made friends who have similar interests, which I think when you become an adult, you do have to be a little bit more active in seeking out those friends which at times can seem a little bit creepy. It's like, what is this person want from me? I'm not sure, but yeah, and I love that. But right, that's the same for Darcy and Bingley, right, they are in a similar stage of life and so you kind of have to find those people in like attracts. Like you know, you get drawn together and sometimes it's easier to then face life together because you're experiencing the same stuff.

Ben Mercer: 31:49

It's kind of like they're going clubbing together though, and where isn't it? It's like come on, let's go. Let's like go meet some girls. It's like let's go to the ball, let's meet some girls. It was just quite funny.

Ben Mercer: 32:00

I think there was a really good bit in the in one of the quotes you sent me, which was in terms of like they're sort of having a crack at each other and Bingley is talking about his, his writing being bad, and so I just dash it off and like you know, I'm so bad, you know, and Darcy is like nothing is worse than false humility. And he's like because actually you're trying to make a virtue of like your speed and flightiness and the fact you could like get up and leave in five minutes. Notice. But Darcy really values, you know like he obviously loves Bingley, but the things that he prides in himself are kind of constancy and reliability and dependability, and, yeah, he's, he values kind of clarity and commitment, doesn't he? He doesn't like, he doesn't like uncertainty, which is probably partly why he doesn't like social situations, because, you know, a party way initially.

Ben Mercer: 32:53

Doesn't like Elizabeth because he's like what? Who is this? You know she's like, give me respect and all the rest of it. But you know, inside the sort of the judgment he makes on the Bennett. So, like you know, the way that he's kind of wrong about a lot of the Bennett's is that he thinks they're sort of silly little girls. But to some extent he's kind of right with the like the younger, the younger ones who are just young girls, and also the mother you know he's. He's, like you know, a sort of figure of fun throughout the book. So in some respects his judgment is sort of half right. But the way in which it's half wrong is catastrophic.

Izzy Meakin: 33:29

So oh, yes, oh my gosh, I have two thoughts on this. I agree, and I've made the argument before. May have been controversial that I, you know, I said, yes, darcy is rude. Well, can come across as rude, but I would actually argue that he's selective. But I feel personally he has the absolute right to be. He's established in life. He's you know this like multi-millionaire, is living his best life, okay, and I feel like at that stage you do have to be selective. You can't just be entertaining anyone and everyone. You don't know what their motives are. And so, yes, does he go about things the wrong way, but does he have the right to do so? I would argue, yes, in some scenarios.

Izzy Meakin: 34:09

But also, didn't you find, with that section, something that stood out with me? How much foreshadowing. I never realized this till I picked out that actual section and I was like, oh my gosh, isn't that so funny. He's telling Bingley what he thinks would be problematic for Bingley. Then he himself uses that against Bingley. I was like, oh my gosh, that just really stood out to me. I was like, wow, that's interesting he's. He just said to Bingley, like your flightiness or like the fact that you are just kind of it all over the place and it'll go with. Somebody else's judgment can be your downfall and we actually see that that being the case, because it plays out that way.

Ben Mercer: 34:43

No, that's true, and I think it's sort of foreshadows Darcy's own problem as well. Right, because it's like he's obviously wrong and it's like Bingley's propensity to just to just follow, follow through with it is his. His lack of self direction is, like you say, like why it causes all this heartache later, whereas if he had the courage of his own convictions then actually he would just have proposed to Jane before and saved everyone a whole lot of bother.

Izzy Meakin: 35:11

Yes, so so true. Something that stands out to me, though, is that I really feel like Darcy's behavior and the way that he goes about influencing Bingley comes from a place of love, I believe, because there's a moment when Sir William Lucas is going around talking about the fact that Jane and Bingley are going to be married soon, and, you know, like everybody in the town does, and it's like super embarrassing, and when he says this in Darcy hears it Sir William's allusion to his friends seem to strike him forcibly, and his eyes were directed with very serious expression towards Bingley and Jane, who were dancing, like he actually feels concerned, and you know we see later on that he says like I didn't know that she was interested in you.

Ben Mercer: 35:49

Like she.

Izzy Meakin: 35:49

she seemed like she was happy and having a good time, but I didn't see anything that showed like a marked interest in him specifically, and so I feel like there is that, that sense of like wanting to protect your friends, which actually seems like such a fantastic quality. Right, you don't want your friend to get hurt. Obviously, he has his own motives as well, but I feel like the underlying reasons are actually quite positive.

Ben Mercer: 36:12

I think, darcy, you know, for all his flaws, he does tend to act in the best interests of the people he loves and, and I think you're right, I think he is acting in Bingley's best interests and what he sees is a manipulation of Bingley. You know he's seeing a kind of community pulled together. He thinks the room has been ceded by, you know sort of silly mother. You know she sees a good opportunity to to marry up. So he's, you know he sees a manipulation in that interaction, doesn't he? When he hears that, he thinks, oh, there's a kind of broader manipulation. This girl doesn't actually like it, and you know she obviously does like him and is kind of acting on. You know she's quite similar to Bingley and that she's acting on the advice of others to not be too keen, and you know that sort of thing.

Ben Mercer: 36:58

And I think, in a way, like the whole thing is, is about sincerity and and actually being sincere and you know is hard I love this comedian's shirt, liam. At the end of one of his sets he gets a guitar out and the whole place goes quiet and he's like oh, he's like we've discovered the last taboo. He's like it's not, you know, some sort of big topic. He was like it's a man trying to do something sincerely and well, and I think I think like and maybe more in male friendship as well, like being sincere with each other is actually really difficult. So I think Darcy is like he is sincerity, sincerity above all else, right and to a fault, but but yeah, he's. When he senses insincerity, then his, his hackles are up.

Izzy Meakin: 37:47

Yes, absolutely, I think so as well, and you can actually tell the things that he discloses to Bingley that he really trusts Bingley and there is, like, like we've been saying, a really intimate friendship there, because he tells Bingley about the whole Wiccom situation. I know we have. I have some quotes somewhere I don't know if you can find them in the in this sheet about that.

Ben Mercer: 38:08

He says, he says something like doesn't Bingley say like, oh, I know the kind of broad brush details and he's like and I don't need to know more because I just trust Darcy.

Izzy Meakin: 38:20

Yes, isn't that massive. Though, like and also, like I always argue, mr Bingley is such a great guy, why would he have such an awful friend? He wouldn't right If he trusts and loves and supports Darcy, darcy must have some fantastic qualities, because I just don't think you'd be inclined to have an awful friend.

Ben Mercer: 38:39

Definitely no, I think you're right. There was what's the other thing I saw. The thing that's really funny in that, like earlier interaction as well, was Bingley's like well, it's just because he's tall, it's like Darcy's tall, and that's where everyone listens to him and he's like if he was, if he was, you know, just like a normal height or, you know, a short guy, we'd be less inclined to give his opinions. Wait, I mean, it's like he's obviously sort of mocking him, but there is something in that, isn't there Like there must be some statistics that it's like tall people are just taken more seriously than short people, and definitely in dating, you know, because people are like they go on a dating app and they're like any, like you know, six foot the cutoff and they're just like absolutely not on the six first. It's actually true.

Izzy Meakin: 39:24

You know, yeah, that's so funny. I don't think my best friend is probably not going to listen to this because she's not a massive Jane Austen fan, but oh my gosh, she actually dates like that, like if they're tall, she'll make a beeline for these people's. I think it's true, I think it is absolutely true. And she's really short, she's like my height. So I'm just like friend, I don't understand this, but okay, it must be that. It must be this, this presence that, like you know, you should be respected and like you've got something important to say, because you're so tall.

Ben Mercer: 39:56

And Bingley's obviously like what a rubbish. Like it's just because he's tall, this is the only reason we listen to him and like actually, yeah, I think that does just touch on something and I think you know like to kind of be like serious about it. I think it's part of the reason that like Austin endures as well, because you're like, yeah, that's funny and it's still true. You know, it's like it's a sort of human nature, like silliness that she's that she points out and then it's we're still doing it. So it's like I think it's part of the reason that we still like Jane Austen. You know it's like these observations.

Izzy Meakin: 40:28

It's like a commentary on human psyche. Honestly, it's just, it's genius, it's absolutely genius and, like you said, it's what makes the timeless, because we're all just like. I know somebody like that, I know people who would make that same comments, or you know, I mean we still believe the same stuff, yeah, and it's just blows her mind a little bit. It would be good to chat a little bit about Darcy's letter to Elizabeth and how he's actually coming to realize that he was mistaken, about Jane's feelings. Again, I mean, I don't think he's like, oh, I feel really bad about it.

Izzy Meakin: 41:00

But he does say, you know, like it's interesting that he chose to conceal the fact that Jane was in London because he knew that Bingley wasn't like I don't know what he says. He said something along the lines like he wasn't free from danger or something like if he knew he would have gone to see her and he still would have, like, married her. So I think that's really interesting. I think that shows the other side to Bingley, that maybe he isn't such a pushover to his friend, but he just respects his friends judgment, but it wouldn't be the deciding facts of him and I feel like that. There is that tension for Bingley throughout the novel is is he just a bit of a wet lettuce or does he just respect his friend?

Ben Mercer: 41:36

It's like it's a bit of a. It's a bit of a laziness in a way, isn't it? It's like outsourcing your and particularly you know the biggest personal decisions that you have and just outsourcing them. He knows what he's doing, so and and that is a kind of lack of bravery in a way. But then Bingley is the, the one who is a sort of positive, you know, puts the energy into the world and, you know, and believes in people. He's much more of a kind of um, yeah, in a way he's very positive.

Ben Mercer: 42:08

So it's like it's strange that that, that lack of like commitment and that's really what Darcy's talking about, isn't it? It's like that lack of kind of personal agency like actually is holding him back. But and it's a sort that is a kind of personal fallibility. That again, darcy is like you know, like he it comes completely out of the blue and it's done terribly and like with all the wrong wordings, but you know, when he first proposes to Elizabeth and she's like what, like you know, and because he's not events like a single bit of interest, but at least he does it, you know, it's like this is, you know, against all my better judgment, your lack of social station. It's like this is what I want, I can't help myself. Whereas, like with Bingley, like Darcy knows he will probably behave like that if he's, if he's there, but Bingley like won't actually do that, which is kind of interesting.

Izzy Meakin: 43:00

And also, what's so bad is he's so hypocritical, right I?

Izzy Meakin: 43:03

mean he's like you. First reason you can't marry Jane is because you know all this in propriety and it's just like you know they're all talking about you. I think she's after your money kind of thing and he's also like and also I'm pretty sure she's not really interested in you. But Elizabeth is actively not interested in Darcy and he picks up on no signals whatsoever and continues to propose to her. It's fascinating that he chooses differently for his friend than he does for himself. He's more observant when it comes to his friends than he is, but it is his own situation.

Ben Mercer: 43:33

Yeah, no, it's, you're right. It is a sort of enormous hypocrisy where it's like I know what's best for you, but actually I also know what's best for myself, and it's not. I just ignore everything I've just said, which is pretty funny. I wonder if it's I mean because the pride and prejudice goes both ways, doesn't it? You know they're both guilty of it, darcy and Elizabeth. And I wonder if, yeah, I wonder at what point her affection kind of begins, whether she kind of predisposes herself to dislike him because of you know who he is and his manner, and because everybody else thinks he's like a great, you know sort of a big fish. And I wonder at what point her regard turns actually and whether Darcy has noticed that in her, in way that she's not noticing herself. But I'm not sure. I'm not sure it has actually begun at that point.

Izzy Meakin: 44:30

No, I think that's so true. Yeah, I think that's so true. And obviously the letter does make a massive difference to Elizabeth, because that's when she starts to be like, oh my gosh, I've been so mistaken, I've been so mistaken, I thought all of this. And I think part of the journey for Darcy and Lizzie is they come to recognise that they have similar flaws and that they've actually actively both participated in miscommunication across the board and believing the wrong people and all of that, unfortunately. And bingley are just there like just thumbling through life, like, oh my goodness, what's going on with these two. And luckily, I mean, they managed to come back together. And I think, obviously, I think Elizabeth places a lot of honours that it's Darcy's influence, that Bingley comes back to Jane and wants to propose to her again. I don't know, I think he would do it regardless. Personally, I think he just needed the green flag. But I just think that's interesting as well that actually, even till the end of the book, elizabeth still states that Darcy's influence is significantly important to Bingley.

Ben Mercer: 45:33

Yeah, I think you're right. He's kind of the driver of the plot in a lot of ways, Darcy, he does sort of pull the levers that make things happen. Yeah, it's an interesting one, and it's interesting as well that they're both. I mean, they are the only male friendship, I suppose, because even Mr Bennett we love Mr Bennett, I think. But he's actually a kind of.

Izzy Meakin: 46:08

I'll do any of us.

Ben Mercer: 46:10

He's actually like a sort of yeah, he's a bit of a lone wolf really, in the same way that Mr Collins and Mr Wickham all these other guys are Mr Wickham's in the military, so he's obviously in kind of a regiment, but they're only ever kind of presented on the road and Darcy and Bingley, the only actual sort of functioning male friendship in some ways.

Izzy Meakin: 46:30

Oh, I think that's such a great point as well, because there's a really weird section when Lydia and Wickham run off together, when, but asking Denny, who's meant to be like Mr Wickham's closest friend, and Denny's like I don't know, I think he's, he was just going to go and have some fun, but he genuinely doesn't know that much about him. And it shows that difference between these close friendships and then obviously more acquaintances. But just because you're kind of forced into these bigger groups whether that is like sports, whether that's the military or what have you they're kind of enforced friendships in a sense, as opposed to chosen friendships, which I think influences how close you become with people potentially.

Ben Mercer: 47:07

Yeah, well, sometimes friendships begin. A lot of the time they're environmental, aren't they? Like your school? Or, like you say, they're a hobby or their vocation, and then actually for them to kind of take hold, they then need to become about something else because, yeah, those things stop, don't they? Like school stops and sports stops or like these different things. They probably stop for one reason or another. So you need, while it's the kind of window, those things are the kind of window into a friendship that you actually need then something else to sustain it. And I think the other characters, like you say, mr Wickham is like oh, you know, this is his mate in the unit. It's like, yeah, well, you know which which works. So look at the guy side. I don't really know. Yeah, I don't know, I don't know about that guy, you know where it's a strong word yeah, yeah, where it's like Darsit and Bingby are actually like their actual friends.

Izzy Meakin: 48:02

You know, actual bro man, sexual column.

Izzy Meakin: 48:04

Bro man, yeah, yeah, yeah, I, yeah, I absolutely agree with that as well.

Izzy Meakin: 48:09

And something else that I'd love to touch on is there's a whole piece of writing by Ian McKeen I want to say, where he talks about the fact that Jane Austen rarely or never has conversations that are just between two men, because she wouldn't have actually experienced that herself, like she wouldn't have ever just been, like you know, in a room like chatting with this, like two men chatting and she's just like observing the situation.

Izzy Meakin: 48:35

So I think that's really interesting that obviously there's there's a bit of a gap between, like what we actually know that Bingby and Darsit will have discussed, and it's interesting that sometimes the only way that we see them is kind of in these bigger social settings together and everything. So I just think that's that's important as well. And the fact that Jane Austen is a female author, like she's, she is a woman, so she doesn't have personal experience with this, and I think we were chatting before that maybe that becomes slightly problematic, you know, like women writing about men, but I think he mentioned that actually that can be a benefit sometimes writing about male friendships and kind of putting a spotlight on it.

Ben Mercer: 49:13

I think you know I like to think anyone can write about anything and then you and you know if you do it badly, then people are going to say but you know, if you don't an informed and honest way, then I think that's fine. But you're right, I think maybe it's a kind of she yeah, maybe it's a wisdom on her part, and I don't actually know about this. And I think now you said that there are certain points in Austin aren't there, where they'll be quite an intimate moment and then it'll just zoom out and then you know they carried on discussing and you know, and it's almost like they are, the rest of it happened. And then now we're over here and I wonder how much of that is around, her kind of personal experience in certain situations. And when you, when you sent me that quote, it really made me think of this, this quote about Ernest Hemingway, where and it's the same as the other way around where it's like someone, someone said Mary Carr said about him, I pulled it up it says he doesn't spend a lot of time giving women any kind of inner life at all.

Ben Mercer: 50:14

Really, in some ways I think that's preferable to the inner life he might have given them if he dead right and he was self aware enough as a writer to know that he didn't understand what was going on in those pretty little heads. And you're like, wow, I wonder you know if that's it. And it's like if Jane Austen, similarly, is like I don't actually know, so I'm just not going to touch it. And you know I'm, I'm great over here, I don't know, I don't, you know, it's just, it was interesting to see that about two kind of big, literally heavy weights.

Izzy Meakin: 50:43

But on the opposite front, yes, and I think Jane Austen herself makes like kind of comment back to that, not directly but in persuasion, when she says you know, men have had the advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher degree, the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything, and I think that's so interesting that actually, yes, maybe Austin is choosing not to, you know, delve into like these private male affairs, like diving into their secret lives, it's like outside of what we see, because she recognizes that she doesn't have that experience. And if it offends her the other way round you know that men are telling a woman's story then actually she's not going to take up the pen and do it in the opposite way either.

Ben Mercer: 51:29

Because, yeah, I actually love that. I think, yeah, in terms of, no, we've heard enough about, we've heard enough about the inner workings of these guys. Actually, you know, this is about this. I think that's actually really interesting and and a kind of yeah, if that's her kind of broader, you know overarching sort of thesis, almost as a writer and she, yeah, she was revolutionary, really, you know like to be to be writing this. You know overwhelmingly male environment at the time. You know that's been redressed quite quite a lot now. You know this is like most published fictional authors of female now I think, but it's, but yeah, the time, you know, real outlier and obviously her work didn't kind of take off until a bit later either, did it. So an incredible kind of sort of endeavor to like redress the balance of like literary power. It's actually sort of amazing. But I think, again, that just speaks to her like her self awareness but also her awareness of, like you know, the kind of broader workings of literature. It's just like she's just real genius.

Izzy Meakin: 52:32

Yes, I love everything, everything. You just said that it would be good to know as well what you think about the influence that Darcy has over Bingley, because I feel like this is a strength of character, potentially of whether or not you back to me throughout with a personal question. Would you be inclined to trust your own judgment, or would you be inclined to trust the judgments of your friends?

Ben Mercer: 52:53

Yeah, it's funny, I wonder if I've consulted my friends on any like big, big decisions of mine actually, and when I, when I was considering their friendship and you know, bingley's a bit more kind of intuitive and actually his intuition is correct, you know, it turns out and Jane is the you know the person for him and Darcy's analysis and, yeah, his and his prejudice has gotten in the way, and actually I think the best decisions I've made in my life have been the ones that I've made quite quickly, actually, you know, to move abroad or to do different things. And you know, however, I've come about them, even if I've taken a while to do them, when I've made my mind up, like in a kind of reasonably swift manner, then those have been the best things. So I kind of think, well, yeah, I think Darcy is being a good friend by wonder if I I'm not sure I've ever actually, you know, gone to a friend for that kind of advice before the fact, maybe afterwards, but like, I think I've kind of made my decisions in isolation mostly. So I was thinking about it and I was like, oh, you know, I think perhaps the friendship is used to illustrate, like you know, that actually your intuition should be trusted in. In a lot of regards.

Ben Mercer: 54:11

I'm not sure I think, like Bingley, is correct in his. I don't know if everyone's intuition is great, but I feel like when I've acted intuitively it tends to be better. And and like Bingley, I like to, I like to believe in people first. You know, and, like you know, I'd like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, because I that's how I'd like to be received and I'd like to kind of have a positive opinion of everyone until proof and otherwise. And I think people are nice, whereas you know the opposite. And I think this obviously stems from Darcy's like sort of you know, from his fortune and his societal position. But I think that's quite a sort of miserable way to be actually.

Ben Mercer: 54:49

Yes, I'm interested in the book, so yeah, yeah, yeah, I'd like, I'd like a friend like Darcy, but only to talk to you after.

Izzy Meakin: 54:58

After your major choice. Oh yeah, that's funny. Yeah, I think I am more inclined on Darcy's side that I would be. I don't know. I would definitely, like you said, kind of trust my own intuition over that other friend, actually to my detriment sometimes. Sometimes I actually just don't tell my friends stuff and they find out like after the fact, like ages after the fact, because I've even forgotten. They're just like you didn't say any of this. Sometimes I just kind of go through things in my own head. But yeah, it's interesting to hear your thoughts on it as well and obviously, given the difference between female friendships and male friendships and everything but, yeah, do you do crowdsource your, like you know?

Ben Mercer: 55:37

do you crowdsource your romantic decisions beforehand, or what's your?

Izzy Meakin: 55:41

No, I'm very much like I'll just go off my own intuition. Yeah, I'm kind of I like to be quite present and in tune with, like you know, my own soul's drive. Yes, it's supposed to be like too spiritual, but yeah, I tend to stick with that and then I just tell my friends after the fact like this is happening, this is this is happening to me, like this is a thing, and also like this is sometimes why I can relate more to Jane, is I like to be quite private about it as well, and I don't think that necessarily is always a bad thing, I think. I think the difference between Jane and Bingley is Bingley is quite open about his feelings. Like you know, he really just showcase that publicly and obviously it's kind of to Jane's detriment that she doesn't. But at the same time I can kind of understand why she would be that way, because sometimes you don't want to be like so over about your feelings publicly, you know, especially when you're just like seeing somebody. So, yeah, I don't know, I think it's not agree with you.

Ben Mercer: 56:38

I think, jane, in a way, like you know, that reticence is is actually a respect Like, and I think to to not just introduce everyone.

Ben Mercer: 56:47

You meet immediately to all your friends or you know subject them, you know like to, because if things don't figure out, or you know, if they're just someone you meet twice or something you know, then it's like it's actually respectful to not waste your friends kind of time and emotional energy on on people. I think, and actually Jane, she almost she really likes him, doesn't she? And she almost doesn't want to jeopardize it and like she could do with being a bit braver. But actually it's like, again, it comes from a good place with Jane, where she's like, oh, you know, I hope this figures out and then I can be, you know, a bit more effusive and outgoing and and she's just trying not to jeopardize it. So it's coming from a kind of a more fearful place with Jane and also I think she's just naturally quite a quite person, a private person. But I think actually sometimes to not, yeah, you know, throw everything open to the, to the group chat is actually a sort of yeah, it's respectful actually.

Izzy Meakin: 57:41

I mean, I can't think of anything worse, but I do have friends who prefer to do that like they prefer to seek counsel and I mean maybe this is the wrong word, but maybe even validation, you know from it, from another friend. I think it takes time to get really comfortable with self concept and being like actually I know my own mind, what I want, and also being comfortable the fact that if I'm wrong I can live with that.

Ben Mercer: 58:03

Those, those friends, maybe know themselves really well. You know, maybe they're like oh I, you know, I do need a little bit of like, say I, I actually don't see the red flags.

Ben Mercer: 58:13

Yeah, maybe that is a self awareness thing as well. So it's everybody's different and and that's why you know these things are interesting. But, yeah, I think that maybe those are just actually again. It's it's like knowing who you are and being like okay, and a bit like Darcy and Bingley is like okay, well, I know, I fly to you and you know whatever. So I've got my kind of serious analytical friend of here. I'm going to refer everything to you know and, like you know, it's when those balances get out of whack that problems happen, that you know there's. No, there's nothing wrong with you're asking people for their advice.

Izzy Meakin: 58:47

No, I agree that, guys. I mean the true love story is Bingley and Darcy. Let's be clear, that's. That's the true love story. And pride and prejudice, true bromance.

Ben Mercer: 58:55

It probably. It probably isn't a way, because we never sort of see Elizabeth and Darcy's love story beyond, you know, beyond we've reached an agreement, and then it's a stop and you're like, whereas, obviously, yeah, these guys, we're on a real roller coaster with them.

Izzy Meakin: 59:11

And they're established. And there's just one more point that I want to make and that's really interesting that there's a bit later on, when Elizabeth asked Darcy, like when you told Bingley what was his response and he says like Bingley was really missed at me, like he forgave me, but he was like not happy, and I think that is speaks to Bingley's character as well. But he isn't such a pushover because he can be like really pissed off with you, darcy, like you just wasted like a good like six months you know, I mean, this could have worked out for me way before. But also like Bingley, because the kind of person that he is and I hope a lot of people are you just to give your friend, because there's so much more to a friendship than just like one instance where they may have been wrong about someone you're interested in romantically.

Ben Mercer: 59:54

But I think as well, because Darcy's fault is, it comes from a good place, doesn't it? It's like born from, born of good reasons, and faulty information and things, so yeah, so Bingley's always wasted, you know. But actually it's like, yeah, because the fault is not a malicious one, then he's okay, like, and I think that's actually again like the sign of a really healthy friendship. So, yeah, they are. They are, you know, in their way like the best functioning relationship in the novel.

Izzy Meakin: 1:00:23

I actually think it's super healthy modeling for male friendships. I think pinnacle is pride and prejudice.

Ben Mercer: 1:00:29

I think that's quite funny. It's a set text for all the sort of, you know, like men's mental health support groups. You know it's like guys go and read pride and prejudice and then, just you know, hit the club for the roast and then have a chat.

Izzy Meakin: 1:00:44

Yeah, I knew that it's, you know, safe and absolutely incredible to have these close, intimate friendships like that is, yeah, good modeling. I love it, I'm here for it and I honestly love this conversation. This has been such a great episode, so thank you so much for coming on. Is there anything else that you want to add? Any extra thoughts now's?

Ben Mercer: 1:01:02

the time. No, no, I think like that's about it. I think you know, I think I'm dry, but yeah, I've had a really good time, it's really fun, and thank you for sending me the quotes and things I just made, like talking about it, so like so much easier and so much more interesting. So, yeah, it's been really good fun.

Izzy Meakin: 1:01:17

Thanks for having me Telling all my listeners that I'm like really intense and send out quotes. I've got all these quotes. What do you think of them?

Ben Mercer: 1:01:24

She's really intense, guys, yeah.

Izzy Meakin: 1:01:27

So that's it, or anyone can just tell that will be the end of it.

Ben Mercer: 1:01:29

Yeah, edit it.

Izzy Meakin: 1:01:31

Put you out Just that. I had a fabulous time. Yeah, that's enough, thank you Cheers, mate, cheers. But I'd love to you know, let people find you. I think probably a lot of my listeners already follow you, but do you want to let people know where they can find you? Instagram, tiktok, that kind of thing?

Ben Mercer: 1:01:46

Yeah, yeah, those are the places. So, like TikTok and Instagram, bce Mercer, like Ben Mercer, and I write newsletter every week. That's kind of like broadly like what I'm doing, but also just the my thoughts on various things that come up with and book recommendations and that sort of thing. So you can find them. Yeah, all my social profiles and stuff. But yeah, I'd love to have you if you want to follow along and yeah, that is everything from us today, and I will see you in another episode.

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