|Note the 'brood factor' of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in A&E's Pride and Prejudice|
And yet, we love Mr. Darcy.
For the uninitiated, here is a recap of Mr. Darcy's first interaction with our feisty heroine:
Small town girl, Elizabeth Bennett encounters Mr. Darcy at a local ball. She and her sisters are in attendance, and they are excited because there are some newer gentlemen in the neighborhood attending the dance. Mr. Bingley and his friend, Mr. Darcy. These two fellows are dashing, handsome and full of town polish, having just arrived in Meryton from London. Alas, poor Elizabeth overhears Mr. Darcy in conversation with his friend, and to her mortification, they are discussing her! She hears Mr. Bingley exhorting his proud friend to stop being such a prig and dance with the ladies. He even mentions Miss Bennett, as a suitable partner for a dance. Our plucky Elizabeth cannot help but listen carefully now. But what she hears is enough to insult women throughout the centuries.
"She's not nearly handsome enough to tempt me!" Darcy replies. Further adding insult to injury, the bloke states emphatically that he is in no humor to dance with girls unfortunate enough to lack partners, thereby lumping Elizabeth in with among the wistful wallflowers. So what's the attraction to this ill mannered, spoiled, self important cad? Elizabeth has already set her heart against him at this juncture, yet we have just begun the classic love story. As heroes go, he's not kind or gallant. He's nasty.
Yet we love Mr. Darcy.
It gets worse. Mr. Darcy is good friends with Mr. Bingley, an affable young man of means who is attracted to Elizabeth's older sister, Jane. Darcy influences his friend to break off the association, thereby breaking Jane's heart as she is in love with Bingley. Elizabeth learns Darcy is behind this and she is livid with anger at him for his interference, for as she puts it, he has cruelly destroyed the hopes and happiness of her sister. Darcy doesn't see it that way, he sees it as having saved his friend from a potentially bad union, and tells Elizabeth so with pride and self-righteousness.
Ah, but don't forget our heroine is actually in love with him, despite his towering ego. He's handsome, rich (worth about a million, by modern equations) and swoon worthy. At this point, we should give Elizabeth a round of applause for not succumbing to the charm of his bankroll and ignoring his flaws. (Many a modern lass has lacked her resolve.) To be honest, Darcy is a pretty package, all brooding, handsome, and ridiculously rich. Just needs a little help on the social front.
Or maybe he needs Zoloft for his social anxiety disorder. Why do I say this? Think about it, dear reader. How truly social is Darcy, at any event in the novel (or movie)? He's pretty much a sad, reluctant observer. He remains in the background silently brooding, looking as if he's sitting in the reception room waiting to be called into the dentist's office to have a root canal.
By his own admission, he states it is difficult for him to converse at social gatherings. Elizabeth chides him when he confesses by countering with the example of her piano playing. She says that the only reason she is not very good at it is because she does not practice, inferring that he must practice being social more if he wishes to become proficient at it. This statement is met with gaiety by Elizabeth's companion, Colonel Fitzwilliam, but Darcy himself appears mortified by her suggestion, and rightly so. It's sort of like telling someone who is afraid of heights to practice jumping out of planes in order to overcome their discomfort. This casts Mr. Darcy in a different light. He's not a jerk, he's just uncertain and clumsy on the social front, and the perceived insolence that he shows to the world is perhaps not insolence at all but a stoic feeling of torture at being forced into social engagements due to his position in society.
And so, we love Mr. Darcy!
The love story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett has been an enduring tale for two centuries. It was written by Austen in the late 18th Century, originally titled "First Impressions", aptly named as the misjudgements of a first impression change through the course of the story. It was rewritten in 1811-12 and then released as Pride and Prejudice in early 1813. It was her second published novel, coming after the 1811 publication of Sense & Sensibility, but Pride and Prejudice has become the most beloved of her works.
There are several movie versions of Pride and Prejudice, the previously mentioned A&E production that is a classic, being a faithfully rendered miniseries. This one stars Colin Firth as Darcy (See top Photo) and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth. This version follows the storyline of the book precisely and even the dialogue is word for word directly from the book. I highly recommend it.
|Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy|
If you want a quicker, shorter rendition, the big screen Theater release of 2005 with Kiera Knightly as Miss Bennett and Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy, is equally good, but the storyline is much more keenly focused on the lovers instead of the Bennett family intrigues that make the book so compelling. Still, it is a very good short version if you're looking for a quickie fix.
|Elliot Cowan is Mr. Darcy in 'Lost in Austen'|
In closing, I leave you with an extra chocolate truffle, being it is Mother's Day. Note Darcy's confession of social awkwardness here. Sparks fly between Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett in this 2005 offering.