“Elizabeth … was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady either on his handwriting, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each.” – Chapter X, Pride & Predjudice
I never thought myself capable of finding any commonality of interest with Miss Bingley but it seems that on this topic I have been mistaken. In this scene at Netherfield, Miss Bingley is fascinated with Mr. Darcy’s handwriting and while her interest is only to garner his attention, I find myself a little chagrined that we both share an interest in the subject of handwriting.
The study of handwriting or the analysis of it for the purpose of inferring one’s personality is called Graphology. While I am surprised to find something in common with Miss Bingley it is not surprising that I should find pleasure in many things, like Elizabeth. And certainly I strive to improve my mind by extensive reading. This being the case I have decided to do a bit of handwriting analysis of my own. I hope to give a little insight into our dear Jane Austen through a study of her handwriting, and perhaps a few of her characters. I should point out that my degree in graphology comes from Nowhere University. And while others have done this before, no one has done it with my level of amateurish flair.
Well then, shall we begin?
The study of handwriting focuses on a couple of different aspects of one’s handwriting. They look at the slant (angle of writing), the size, speed, and character formation (loops and letter shapes). These things can tell them aspects about their personality and character traits. People today use handwriting analysis to make decisions for hiring, forensic profiling and even romantic compatibility. That’s right, people! You can have your handwriting, and that of your object of romantic interest analyzed for compatibility. Do I see an eWriteFit.com dating site in the future?
But I digress; we are here to learn what Jane Austen’s handwriting said about her personality and character. So let us begin.
To start, let’s look at Jane’s slant. A slant can be labeled as to the right, none or to the left. In this case we can see Jane’s handwriting clearly slants to the right. According to my extensive research, a right slant indicates that Jane Austen was open to the world around her and liked to socialize with other people. (This is fun huh?)
Ok, how about the size? What does this tell us about dear Jane? Jane’s handwriting was small, though this could be because back in her time, paper was expensive and the post likewise. You had to make as much purchase of a single sheet of paper as you could. But let’s assume here the size of her handwriting was by nature and was not by need. In graphology small handwriting means you are focused and can concentrate easily. I’ll bet that one was accurate for Miss Austen – writing takes lots of focus.
If we want to get into specifics about Jane Austen’s handwriting (and of course we do) we need to look at her character formations. Firstly, her loops – specifically her loops for L and E. Look to the example below for what I describe. Jane Austen had a full loop for L, meaning the stroke was open for the loop and did not come down upon itself making the loop closed. (Look how scientific I sound now!) This indicates that she was spontaneous, relaxed and found it easy to express herself. Her loops are closed for E. This means she tended to be skeptical and usually unswayed by emotional arguments. Her social satire, found readily in her books, certainly make this point more interesting.
Jane’s long, rightward ‘t’-bars indicate a high level of enthusiasm, especially when it comes to her interests. Very successful people often have this. People with this stroke are also future-oriented and driven.
As you can see below, the shape of her S is pointy. This refers to the upward point of the cursive S. Pointy S means she was intellectually probing and liked to study new things. Interesting tidbit; the higher and pointier the peaks, the more ambitious one is.
The shape of Jane’s lowercase D is next. A lower case ‘d’ that ends with a stroke high and to the left instead of returning to the baseline indicates a love for elegance, high art, fine dining, literature, and music. Our Jane was a cultured lady!
So it looks like our Jane was ambitious, cultured, enthusiastic, friendly, focused, and able to express herself. It seems like I managed to tell you nothing new about her! But maybe I can see how well graphology works for our dear characters. We may not have any of their handwriting but we have it described in the same chapter quoted at the beginning of this post.
Descriptions given for Mr. Darcy’s handwriting as provided by various characters in Pride and Prejudice:
“I write rather slowly.” – via himself
“How can you contrive to write so even?” – via Miss Bingley
From the post proposal letter, Elizabeth observed Mr. Darcy’s writing to be “in a very close hand.” Or, as I interpret it, small or compact.
According to graphology, our handsome suitor is methodical and self reliant because he writes slowly. His writing being small and compact means he is intrusive but also, like Jane, is focused and can concentrate easily. Elizabeth also notes from his letter that it was “two sheets of letter paper, written quite through.” This meant there were probably very little margins in the letter. Small margins indicates that Darcy could not sit still and relax, that his mind was constantly running. At the time of his writing that letter to her after his failed proposal, I imagine this would be the case. What I found the most interesting is that if what Miss Bingley meant by his writing being so even means he does not slant his letters, graphology says that Mr. Darcy doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him and tends to be logical and practical. Poor Darcy, his handwriting was his downfall.
We shall end by comparison a look at Mr Bingley’s handwriting as described in Pride & Prejudice:
“My style of writing is very different from yours.” Via Mr. Darcy
“Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest.” Via Miss Bingley.
“My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them.” Via Bingley himself.
Mr. Bingley writes quickly and that indicates that he is impatient and dislikes delays. His writing having blots are indications of writing with heavier pressure which means our Mr. Bingley had high levels of energy, and is good with commitment. (He did continue to love Jane even after he left her.) If we infer from Darcy’s comment about his friends writing being very different from his own, we might assume that Bingley had a bigger size of writing. If this is the case we learn that Bingley is well adjusted and adaptable. If we infer that it meant he writes unevenly he is open to new experiences or meeting new people. Seriously, people I am not making this up! Lastly, graphology says that Mr. Bingley’ in his haphazard scrawl, is likely to have his reactions depend on the circumstances and how he feels at the time. That is no surprise since he himself says, “When I am in the country, I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town it is pretty much the same.”
I wonder if Jane Austen’s characteristic of these two gentlemen’s handwriting, and consequently their personalities, were perhaps born of some gentlemen Jane knew in real life. What if she knew someone with Darcy’s personality and had seen his hand? Or someone like Bingley whose writing was careless and full of blots. These characters’ personalities in the book certainly are strongly accurate for the graphology of their handwriting.
All in all, I must conclude with yet another commonality with Miss Bingley. “It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill.” Aye, Miss Bingley, aye.
If you would like to learn more about graphology you can here.
If you would like to see what a professional graphologist has to say about Jane Austen’s script, look here.