How I Really Feel About Darcy

What I am about to say might ruin my career. One of my wise Lady Authors has assured me that if I were ever to reveal what I am about to reveal it would be career suicide. Upon occasion when I have uttered this confession, people have gasped audibly.

So I really, really shouldn’t say it.

But I’m going to say it anyway.

Confession: I don’t get the appeal of Mr. Darcy. Not as written in Pride & Prejudice, not as portrayed by Colin Firth or any other broody, pasty English actor. Mr. Darcy hath not inspired a swoon, or sigh, or fangirling squee in me. My true feelings for Darcy = Meh.

So naturally I decided to write a romance novel featuring a Mr. Darcy. This was a terrifying prospect because people who love Darcy, LOVE DARCY. I was treading in delicate territory here. It was also a challenge, because it really helps for a romance author to have some warmth toward her characters, and I thought he was kind of a jerk. And not a sexy jerk either.

If I was going to write my own Darcy hero, I would have to understand why women loved him, what made him tick. I had to fall in love with him myself.

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I took notes as I researched (watched Pride & Prejudice, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Bridget Jones’s Diary) and wrote. Notes like:

He is the dullest man alive. wtf.

What is he interested in? I don’t know.

Ugh, why is he so awkward?

Then I tried to answer my own questions.

He is the dullest man alive. wtf.

Well, maybe not. Almost every version of P&P is written in the first person, from the heroine’s point of view. We never get to see what’s going on his head. He could be like “I am hot in this overcoat and someone used too much starch in my cravat” or “Ugh, these peasants” or “omg there she is be cool man be cool.” Because we don’t know we can imagine he’s thinking the worst, or something wonderful. It’s much more fun to imagine him acting like an aloof jerk because he is actually obsessing over a girl. It’s little junior high, but we’ll give it to him. But then again, he’s probably really good a slyly checking a girl out without her noticing. #lifeskillz #heroskillz

 

What is he interested in? I don’t even know.

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That infamous ten thousand a year made me think he might be a Big Deal business-wise (Or, in the case of my Darcy, aristocratic estate wise). Thus I conclude that he would be interested in his business/estate/parliament/Serious Stuff. After all, he’s definitely not one of those rakes who loafs about at White’s all day, drinking and betting on stupid things like which raindrop would reach the bottom of the window first (which is a true thing that actually happened). So he’s probably pretty smart (sexy) and dedicated to his work (sexier still).

But the flip side of this is that he is trapped by his responsibility. There is so much he Must Do that there isn’t much time left over for want he wants to to do—hell, he probably doesn’t even allow himself to consider it. That sense of duty and dedication is appealing because just imagine if he felt that way toward you. He’s a man you could count on.

 

Ugh why is he so awkward.

Darcy is a total buzz kill at parties. Even the most ardent Darcy fans have to admit this. He doesn’t dance, the women aren’t handsome enough. He’s totally a judge-y bear. A huge snob. See above re: peasants. See also: his TERRIBLE first proposal to Elizabeth/Bridget/Heroine. But maybe that’s not how he really feels deep down, it’s how he was raised to feel. On some level, Darcy is just Society and women are just Elizabeth and the romance is getting to be seen and loved for who we are.

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Or maybe its not that he’s awkward, but that he is just too awesome. (Or maybe this is what all of us awkward-at-parties-bookworms want to believe and emphasize with). And you have to admit that it’s pretty awesome being Darcy—the money, the status, the legions of adoring women. One would want to keep a good thing going. So he would be interested in perpetuating his very own status quo. Inevitably, he would become a jerk to anyone who challenged that. Not because he’s mean but because he’s all like “But I’m Darcy.”

He falls. Hard.

Enter Elizabeth/Bridget/Heroine. He’s totally into her, but trying to play it cool. Cute! Because he’s Darcy, he’s really focused on keeping everything under control—whether it’s his business, estate, family, the country, etc—because that’s what Darcy does. And dedication is hot. He’s awkward because he’s trying to stifle is true love and real feelings. And when he can’t hold back anymore…when he falls, hard, for a woman who challenges him…when love wins over fear of what people will think

Well that makes even me swoon.

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Sorry about the times I misjudged you!

 

But really–am I the only one who feels this way? Or is everyone here die hard Darcy fans? 

 

 

Comments

Diana
Reply

lol love Darcy! but I loved your version of him too

Melissa
Reply

I read a book titled Darcy’s Diary and fell in love with him from that perspective. He is awkward and snobbish.

Maya Rodale
Reply

What a great title! Will have to check that out…

Elaine
Reply

I’m not much into him either. However, I do use his name when I have to think of a book hero really fast. He’s the only one who easily comes to mind.

Cindy
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I thought that Darcy said some of those things as a way of deflecting! He was raised to think a certain way! Just think of his aunt Lady Catherine! To hear that tripe since you were a child! And to be raised and educated along side of Wickham! He represented everything Darcy was raised not to be! So yes he had a pole up his behind!

What I love is how he allows himself to change! And he takes charge! He sees a problem that he can fix (Wickham and Lydia) and he jumps right into action! Introverts live in their heads and can be awkward in conversations! But give us something to do! (Like Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility )!

The trope of the hero being challenged in his thinking and having to change his opinions was also used in Persuasion! This is one of my all time favourites! So I love Darcy and Captain Wentworth because they dropped their preconceived views of our heroines and opened themselves up to the possibility that they were wrong!

Maya Rodale
Reply

In any version he is a great example of, as you say, having his thinking challenged and changing his opinion. So the real appeal is a guy who will open his mind…? 🙂

Donna
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I`m with you. Not my guy.

ELM
Reply

Never was a fan of him either. Thought he was pretty boring as well, but like you said, that’s probably because we only get to see Lizzy’s PoV inP&P. I’m curious as to when the Darcy obsession started. I was born in ’88 so the only adaptions I’ve seen of it are the ’95 and 2005 versions of it. Were people this crazy over him before the tv-shows and movies came out? I always figured the appeal of Darcy wasn’t Darcy himself, but Colin Firth portraying him.

Anyways, my favorite Austen hero is Mr. Knightley. 🙂

Maya Rodale
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That’s a great question and I have no idea!

And I am also partial to Mr. Knightly, especially as portrayed by Jeremy Northam in Emma (what happened to him?)

ELM
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Maybe someday someone will make a mini documentary about it.

As for Jeremy Northam, no idea! He’s aged really well though. 😀

Devon
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I’ve read P&P multiple times and seen the movies God only knows how many times. Always thought Darcy was a jerk. That being said, I TOTALLY get your point that we’re only seeing one side of the story, we don’t get inside his head. Plus, those of us in modern Western culture have been raised in a time when the concept of marrying for duty is archaic so we totally don’t get it.

Maya Rodale
Reply

Yes! In reference to an earlier comment, it would be interesting to know when Darcy obsession started. I’d be curious to know if women swooned over him back in the day when the concept of marriage for duty was the done thing. My guess is yes, since we’re still reading the book 🙂

Judy Goodnight
Reply

Maybe I totally fell in love with Darcy from the first because my first Darcy was Laurence Olivier who could not help but be handsome, charming, and dashing even though he misjudged Elizabeth and Jane. Later, after reading the book and seeing Firth and MacFayden portray Darcy, I saw the “stick up his butt” attitude, that sense of responsibility and commitment, but also the introvert who is terribly uncomfortable in large social gatherings. How must it have felt to be raised to that sense of noblesse oblige, yet have his own father favor the feckless Wickham? One of my favorite lines in the book that indicates how Darcy has already been changing is when he says to Elizabeth at Rosings, “I’m not afraid of you.”

Maya Rodale
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Swoon. Also how have I not seen the Laurence Olivier version???

Judy Goodnight
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A) It was done in 1940 and you don’t see a lot of those old movies on regular tv any more.
B) The dress and other details are all wrong. The dress is Victorian like they stepped off the GWTW set.

But, Greer Garson is delightful as Elizabeth, Olivier is Olivier, and there’s a wonderful scene at a garden party where Darcy takes it upon himself to teach archery to Elizabeth. Then she steps up to the mark and lets loose a zinger of an arrow to the center of the target. 🙂

Claudine Pepe
Reply

Oh, I LOVE Mr. Darcy too much to agree that he’s anything but a misunderstood gentleman who’s struggling to understand his feelings within the context of the strict social structures that Austen portrays him within, which was a big point that I believe she was making about her era, country, etc.

He’s a man with a ton of power and choices and he chooses to pursue Elizabeth, save her sister and family through gaining a miserable brother-in-law. Yes, he struggles tremendously with his decisions, but he chooses the path most men of his era wouldn’t have chosen. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is intelligent, opinionated, and not looking to defer to him… Yet, he’s liberal and deep down secure enough to love all of those things about her!!

I absolutely respect your opinion, but I think when we get to his inner qualities, as I believe Austen wants us to throughout her story regarding all of her characters, he’s an amazing person.

Austen is very focused on celebrating people who demonstrate self-awareness and who can reflect on themselves in an effort to improve themselves. Darcy and Elizabeth both travel these paths through their arcs in P&P. I just couldn’t love, admire and respect them enough for their experiences.

Let’s not forget he’s a pretty amazing brother and a respected master of his estate. He’s also a well-regarded member within his own family and friends.

Obviously, as someone who’s loved Mr. Darcy for almost 20 years, I have strong feelings about his character. My last point is that I always feel that Darcy and Elizabeth so closely resemble each other that to dislike one, may lead you to dislike the other because they’re both complex, and easily misunderstood characters.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this question. Fitzwilliam Darcy will always be my idea of a well-bred and desirable gentleman.

Maya Rodale
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So well said! And he is completely an admirable gentleman. I definitely came around to a certain fondness and definite respect for him as I got to know his character more. He’s definitely a catch 😉

Richard
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“Austen is very focused on celebrating people who demonstrate self-awareness and who can reflect on themselves in an effort to improve themselves.”
Yes! <3
— I think that's part of why I love the first proposal scene between Darcy and Elisabeth so much: it's such an intense scene, where two very sharp and excellent characters fire slings at each other, they both hurt and both regret what they say to each other; both seek to improve themselves because of it.

Richard
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:o) I like that there are people who don’t love Darcy. (Personally, I don’t get most of the appeal of Mr Knightly in Emma, wish I could).

Even Jane in Lizzie Bennett Diaries couldn’t think up anything nice to say about Darcy beyond “he’s tall”. I think Austen does a good job of making him unlikeable (at least up until his letter); and without the social skills to get along with someone like Mrs Bennett.
The lack-of-POV makes it harder; everyone’s vision of Darcy can be quite different.
It works, though; P&P has plenty of misunderstanding keeping people apart. Darcy fits well in that, and is brilliantly complementary with/to Elisabeth.

Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA
Reply

I love Lady Bridgett’s Diary, Maya!

And I hate to admit it, but I don’t see the appeal of Pride and Prejudice. At. All. I’ve seen the Colin Firth, and Keira Knightly versions and never read the book. I was already bored a few pages in… so I honestly don’t understand Darcy’s appeal as well. But maybe it’s because he is boring and snobbish but he falls for the heroine in the end?

This is one of the reasons why I like reading the male POV because it shows their perspective on things. I honestly love reading about how unsettled a hero is because heroine is there!

Sarah R.
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I remember stumbling onto the Colin Firth version of P&P about halfway through the first episode of original showing on A&E, 20 years ago? I was 19/20 and I fell in love with mini-series, not necessarily Darcy. I had read the book in high school, but I re-read it after watching the mini-series and have re-read it a few more times since. I have never been a Mr. Darcy fan, but a fan of the story as a whole. He does have his nice moments but is not someone I could have seen myself falling in love with. I think the best thing he had going for him was his love for his sister.
I have read books written in his POV and they definitely bring more insight into his character, or at least what that particular author thought he might have been thinking.
Of all the Jane Austen heroes written, Captain Wentworth is my favorite (with Colonel Brandon a close second) and Persuasion is my favorite story, but it definitely doesn’t get as much love as P&P.

Joanna M
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Hear, hear! I still love Mr. Darcy because I do consider him a complex and misunderstood character and because in the end he sort of changed his ways to make her happy but my favorite is Capt. Wentworth and my favorite story is Persuasion as well.

denise
Reply

while I do love Darcy, I understand he can be interpreted many ways.

Joanna M
Reply

I agree with you on the unlikable character he’s at the beginning and I will admit to watching the MacFadyen version three times to finally understand why Lizzy accepted him (in my opinion the movie didn’t show how she truly loved him) and it was after that moment that I knew the movie must have missed something from the book so I decided to read the book.
Ah, what a beautiful thing it was to uncover all the details the movie missed and to have a better understanding of Lizzy’s love. My opinion for Darcy is still the same. He is a great, complex character but not my favorite as Capt. Wentwoth holds that honor 🙂
I will say however that MacFadyen is the best Darcy because those eyes… and that almost kiss under the rain, and that fist he makes right after he helps her into the carriage, and …. 😉

Caz Palmer
Reply

I am a Bridget Jones fan , or was , but each time I watch it I get more and more uncomfortable with the coldness and pompousness of Mark Darcy to the point I don’t like him even though he supposed to be every womans dream guy

He is sulky and cold at times and Bridget feels she has to be the one to chase him or ‘break the ice’ while he shuns her behind his newspaper etc , sorry but that is not a guy I would want to be with

He may have a heart of gold underneath but his icy treatment mode seems to push Bridget away , hence their break ups and it may be his private schooling which makes him come across so cold at times but a less arrogant , warm , down to earth guy appeals to me more and they do have different ideologies eg he wants to send his kids away to boarding school whereas she would never be happy with that so there is always friction in the making there and when one of her friends called him a cold fish but then all is always forgiven afterwards the cold fish comment sticks with me now as how deep do you have to dig to find the warm , tender , honest guy who doesn’t have a poker up his arse? I don’t feel there are ”just” Mr Darcys or Daniel Cleavers , there are naturally warm hearted , regular , down to earth guys who I hate to say it don’t speak to you as if you are a child or look at you with distain when you’ve ”blown it” again by behaving ”common” or even beneath him I dunno it just seems like a recipe to feel inadequate like she quite often does and ‘love’ doesn’t heal everything or guarantee happiness with a guy so I USED to want a Mr Darcy till I saw how cold and pompous he really was and now I just think an everyday down to earth emotionally honest one will do , one with whom I don’t have to ”guess” with or have to dig for miles to find his true feelings which is frustrating and HARD WORK lol

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