You mentioned Pride and Prejudice in your post about classic novels, and I was wondering about a) your opinion of Mr. Darcy in general and b) your opinion of Darcy and Elizabeth as a couple.
Don’t let my mocking tone in that post fool you. I adore Mr. Darcy with all my heart, I merely object to the way he’s popularly associated with the image of this perfect, brooding hunk, when really he’s just a socially awkward loser.
Okay, okay, so our first introduction to Darcy is at a ball, where he:
- Doesn’t dance
- Can’t make small talk
- Is generally rude and embarrassing
- Stands awkwardly in the corner the whole night
- Decides he might fancy this one girl, so he insults her.
- Where anyone could overhear.
- Including the girl.
- Gets roundly insulted to his face by said girl, and his reaction is ‘…damn.’
Later on, he gets to know this girl a bit better. He warms up to her, and starts to act a little less like a standoffish jackass.
comes the infamous ball where the entire Bennet family, except for Jane and
Lizzie, embarrass themselves. He convinces Bingley not to marry Jane because it
would degrade him.
pass, and Lizzie meets Mr. Darcy again. She finds out that he separated Jane and
Bingley and she is SIMMERING with resentment. Darcy, on the other hand, (who
must have been pining over her and doodling ‘Mrs Elizabeth Darcy’ in his
notebooks all this time) decides this is the perfect time to propose marriage.
He BURSTS into her house, completely unannounced, ignores her chilly reception,
then makes awkward small talk and wanders around in agitation. Finally, he
confesses that he loves her, against his better judgment, and insults her and her
entire family before standing back, quite pleased with himself and convinced that she’s going to accept
But she doesn’t.
lets him have it. She tells him how much she loathes him and exactly why. He is
stunned. Mortified. No one has ever spoken to him like this. He’s quite used to
getting everything he wants, and this just shakes him to his core. He stands there
for a while with a face like a slapped arse, then, unable to defend himself, he slinks away with a haughty goodbye and goes off to wallow in shame and resentment.
The next day Lizzie is walking around the grounds and Mr. Darcy finds her. Has he taken this time to compose himself so he might talk to her and explain himself better?
He wrote a letter. He wrote a fucking letter. He probably spent all night agonising and poring over this thing. Then he skulked around the grounds ALL MORNING in the hope of finding her. His exact words: “I have been walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you. Will you do me the honour of reading that letter?”
And he shoves it in her hand.
Then he runs.
(Darcy you fucking walnut.)
reads the letter, and of course it’s beautiful and eloquent and it says
everything he’s too socially inept to say to her face. It radically alters her opinion of him.
In response to her criticisms, Darcy really does make an effort to change his manners. He was never a bad guy – it’s obvious how much he loves his friends and his baby sister, and Lizzie too, he just tends to be rude and haughty and socially awkward, something that’s understandable considering his station.
Lizzie meets him at Pemberley and he introduces her to his sister (which, over-protective big brother alert, is the biggest compliment he can give) and seeing how he treats her makes Lizzie just a tiny bit weak in the knees. JUST A LITTLE. NOT THAT SHE WANTS TO MARRY HIM OR ANYTHING HAHA wow his house is big.
THEN HE’S EVEN A GENTLEMAN TO HER AUNT AND UNCLE AND MAYBE JUST MAYBE SHE MIGHT THINK HE’S A BIT HANDSOME???? JUST A LITTLE?????
Then she hears her sister Lydia has run away with the renegade Mr. Wickham.
ON MY WATCH. NO SIR.
He comes to the rescue, finds Lydia and Wickham, and persuades them to marry with a hefty sum of money, thus rescuing the Bennets from disgrace. But. BUT.
DOES ALL THIS WITHOUT TELLING HER. OR THE REST OF HER FAMILY.
HER AUNT AND UNCLE TELL HER, MUCH LATER, THAT DARCY DID IT ALL AT GREAT PERSONAL EXPENSE.
And Lizzie’s just like ‘oh no.’
(Because every girl’s a slut for a gentleman
who treats her and her family with respect.)
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.
OH NO, THAT IS NOT ALL.
BINGLEY COMES BACK. MAH BOY BINGLEY COMES RIDING INTO TOWN TO SWEEP JANE OFF HER FEET.
Gee, I wonder who could have been behind that? I wonder who could possibly have persuaded Bingley that Jane truly did love him, and that her family was not beneath his station after all? WHO COULD POSSIBLY HAVE DONE THAT????
By this point Lizzie’s a hive of conflicting desires and emotions. That’s when Lady Catherine de Bourgh comes into her house, unannounced, and tells her not to marry Mr. Darcy.
How does Lizzie respond? Miss “From the very beginning – from the first moment, I may almost say – of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry” ?
She says, ‘WOW. FUCK YOU LADY. YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. HE’S A GENTLEMAN AND I AM A GENTLEMAN’S DAUGHTER. WE ARE EQUALS. I’LL MARRY WHOMEVER I PLEASE. NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.’
(Oooooh, girl, you got it bad.)
After this, Darcy shows up and starts talking to Lizzie. And it KILLS me, because obviously he’d given up on ever winning her hand. He did all those things for her not because he wanted her to like him, but just because he loved her. He was upset when he found out her uncle had told her about what he did for Lydia and Wickham. UPSET. And while Lady Catherine had raged about how inferior Lizzie’s family was, just as Darcy once had, now Darcy says that he respects and loves them. He says Lady Catherine spoke to him of their encounter, and it filled him with hope that maybe she didn’t think he was an insufferable jackass anymore. ONLY when he receives this encouragement does he renew his proposal, and even then he adds, “one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.”
I MEAN???? Just LOOK at this precious sunflower, dumb and stuttering and full of “awkwardness and anxiety,” so fucking in love with this girl that he was willing to give his personality a complete overhaul and re-evaluate all his life choices, not because he thought it would make her like him, but JUST BECAUSE he loved her. And if she had refused him a second time, he would never have bothered her again. THAT is how you gentleman.
The name of the novel says it all – Pride and Prejudice. He’s proud and haughty, she’s prejudiced and rooted in her negative first impressions. These are the things they have to overcome, this is how they have to grow and evolve. He needs to lay aside his pride, she her prejudice, and only then can they be together.
Because they are perfect for each other. Absolutely, unequivocally. And when Jane Austen says they live happily ever after, I believe her.