A few weeks ago we asked you to submit your feelings on Mr. Darcy. The literary character, not his portrayal by certain actors.
Here are your responses:
Helen R: He’s brave. He goes against his friend’s (well Caroline) and family’s wishes. He sticks up for his love, even before he knows she returns his feelings. He’s honourable, generous, loyal and honest. Excruciatingly honest.
Buffy: I love Fitzwilliam Darcy because he is a real flawed human being. He’s not the hero that comes in and sweeps the heroine off her feet immediately. He’s shy, he’s awkward, he puts his foot in his mouth because he’s just so damn nervous around Lizzie. And who of us hasn’t been there when we really like someone? He loves his friends and wants the best for Bingley and in his haste to protect him, again he shoots off his mouth without all the facts. He’s proud but not too proud to admit he was wrong and try to make it all right. He knows his mouth gets him into trouble so he resorts to action to sort out the Lydia mess and hopes that Lizzie will understand what he is really telling her. Thankfully she does!
Karen: I like Mr Darcy because once Lizzy (harshly) points out that he’s being an asshat for telling her that he’s lowering himself to propose to her, he actually takes her words into consideration! Instead of holding it against her, he’s introspective. When they met at Pemberley afterwards, he could have been rude, but was gracious and kind. He went above and beyond in the situation with Wickham and Lydia, swearing the Gardiners to secrecy because he didn’t want Elizabeth to feel beholden to him. He wanted her to care for him, but that’s not even why he helped Lydia. He truly wanted Elizabeth to be happy. He’s a romantic hero precisely because of this. Add in that his awkwardness with strangers was misconstrued as extreme arrogance, you have a very relatable hero.
Anonymous: Darcy’s willingness & ability to grow into a better person motivated by love. His loyalty to those he loves. His passion.
Kay: I like Darcy because he’s a challenge to know and a bigger challenge to win over. Before we even learn how generous or kind he can be, the chase would be thrilling! From the chase can real love blossom as you venture through the desire into something much deeper in learning more and more. Plus he reminds me of my husband, so I’m bias.
Katrina: I can see the good and the evil in Darcy’s character. From an introverts perspective, it’s easy to understand how he observed Lizzy from afar and developed a deep and abiding attraction and admiration for her. He’s also better equipped to DO things instead of saying things, as evidenced by his terrible first proposal to Lizzy and subsequent assistance to Lydia. I’m a person who struggles with verbal expression, and whose ideas often come across completely wrong, so I choose to do things to show how much people mean to me. That being said, from a woman’s perspective, he is truly insufferable at times. To point out the inferiorities of the Bennett family when compared with his own was unnecessary and hurtful. While it was an honest assessment, it would ruffle the feathers of anyone who loved their family dearly. In conclusion, he’s a complex character. Jane’s creation of him left him open to both harsh criticism and deep admiration…I tend to lean towards the latter.
Christina Boyd: For over two hundred years, women have loved Austen’s brooding and enigmatic hero, Mr Darcy. Handsome, rich, strong, cerebral. You might also find him in disguise, including his imperfections, as numerous literary and film paragons like Gilbert Blythe, John Thornton, Gabriel Emerson, Lloyd Dobkee, Mr Big… Despite his manifold of faults against him, Darcy has estimable qualities that have stood the test of time: constant, cool headed, honest, gallant. Although he is flawed, he is willing to change for love of a worthy woman. He has set the standard as the ultimate catch for centuries—and who am I to argue with millions of readers before me? I always have an affinity for a rich, handsome man willing to improve himself for love.
Elizabeth: Honestly, the main reason I like Darcy is that he takes Lizzy’s criticism to heart and he CHANGES. Consider, well, every sitcom ever with the Main Couple who is on again/off again because they have persisting issues – but we’re expected to believe they end up happily ever after in the end. That it’ll work out this time, even though it’s never worked out before and neither partner has really changed and all their issues still exits. (Or HIMYM, where Ted got to marry someone to be an incubator for him to have the children Robin couldn’t have and didn’t want, someone who then conveniently died so he and Robin could get together, but you know what, let’s not get me started on that. My point is, they “solved an issue” by giving Ted someone else and then killing her off, which isn’t the same as Ted and Robin having a meaningful conversation and coming to an understanding about their different life goals…especially since that conversation WOULD end with them being broken up…BUT SERIOUSLY I DIGRESS.) ANYWAY. Darcy is definitely NOT good for Lizzy when he first proposes – so prideful, so prejudiced against her family, I mean, for the love of God, he insults her AS he proposes yet is shocked when she refuses him. But after taking time to cool down from the initial injury of her rejection, he realizes that a lot of her accusations are well-founded, and those that aren’t are based on the fact that she (understandably) doesn’t have all the information she would need to make a fair judgement. So he gives her that information and then WORKS ON HIMSELF. Things could be horrible and awkward when they meet again – and kind of are – but he works to show her that he can change and be a person less fixed on social class and more willing to get to know her acquaintances, to show her the generous person that Mrs Reynolds describes him as.
All while having *no hope* of gaining a relationship with her from his changed behavior, which is another thing I like about him! As opposed to many of today’s romantic heroes, who make the change specifically with “winning my lady back” in mind, Darcy does it merely to show her he can change but without any hope of renewing his proposals. It’s not until he thinks she might have developed reciprocal feelings that he renews the proposal BUT ALSO he finishes it up with “one word from you will silence me on the subject forever.” Another way he contradicts today’s Nice Guy Heroes, who get the girl merely because they wore her down.
As I always say: Be a Darcy, not a Ross.*
*Geller, from Friends. Because I did not know about Ross Poldark before.
Mary Ellen: We think today’s Instagram world is out of control image management, but I think it was the same back then. Technology changes but people don’t. Despite the constant pressure to be the Most Eligible Bachlor, he doesn’t need to impress anyone. He sees through the bullshit and notices true substance in Elizabeth. Not to mention his integrity. Aside from lying to Bingley, which he apologizes for in the end, he does what’s right even when no one is looking. He’s solid. Definitely the kind of man you want in your corner. Bingley is a lucky man to have him as a friend.
Blythe: Truthfully, I think Darcy is a butthead. Give me Wentworth any day. He’s a man who doesn’t care about the barrier of classes or jerkface family. He knows his heart and cares so much about the woman he professes to love that he can only think of her comfort even when his heart is still aching from hurt 8 years later. IRL, Colin Firth must be a Wentworth. If he was a Darcy he would have dumped his wife after the first hint of marital issues because of how it made him look to the public.
Jenn: It’s not so much I love Darcy because it’s “Darcy” and therefore I should swoon, but because Darcy is like looking in a mirror for me. Over the years of understanding P and P more, I began to understand why he’s possibly the #1 fictional character in all of literature I relate to the most. We have the same flaws and strengths. We’re fiercely loyal to those we love and who’ve shown us loyalty over time, but of course getting to know those people in the first place is a bit on the difficult side, because I also “improve on acquaintance”. Yay introvert life! Hey, it should be telling that I’m writing this rather than doing an audio file as we both have to write out our feelings/thoughts to have them make more sense to even ourselves! Our intentions and actions are easily misunderstood due to the way we see the world around us, and OH LORD IN HEAVEN…his first proposal is THE biggest mirror moment for me! I also tend to “pull a Darcy” when asked to explain myself or deciding whether or not to pursue something or someone we’ve taken a fancy to and then later explain. Darcy explains to Lizzie the external reasons why he shouldn’t be be interested in her or why he shouldn’t be pursuing her, let alone MARRY her, right? I do the exact same damn thing, like…A LOT. I always am coming up with external reasons to NOT pursue my life goals/dreams, a guy I might like, etc. because we’re scared we might not get it and rejection hurts more than we let on because we don’t wear our hearts on our sleeve. It actually hurts when I read or watch that scene, because I want to do either of two things…scream at him to shut up because he’ll just look like in idiot for his explanation since I’ve made the same “mistakes” or give him a hug and say I completely understand because I get how he ticks and thinks…and that I’ll take him since Lizzie won’t! 😉
Kathy: I like Mr Darcy because he was obviously willing to grow and learn and be a modern man at a time when peers were not respected for doing any of that. He took a chance on Elizabeth and her family and did them all good.
Laura: I think Darcy represents someone who is genuinely caring and kind. The reader is given the impression through Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes of being arrogant and not caring about other people for example Wickham. However it is through Darcy’s actions when Lydia runs away to London and attempts to salvage her reputation firstly by asking Lydia to come back with him and then arranging her wedding to Wickham that shows his support for her and the Bennet family. The housekeeper, also praises him having known Darcy since he was a child. Darcy does act badly towards Jane but he learns that he cannot interfere with Bingley’s decision. Darcy’s demonstrates progression of character and personality by the end of the novel.
Jenni: Darcy’s character bilks the patriarchal narrative about men and emotions. His entire story arc is driven by his feelings, and Austen lets us witness it. It’s a fantasy – to see up close a romantic passion taking over a male mind and reducing all the class and gender nonsense to a puddle at the feet of a worthy woman. What’s not to like?
Lori: I don’t. I did many years ago, but I’ve learned that people don’t change, at least not as much as Darcy seems to. Now, all I can think is that he will either eventually try and manipulate her into being his ideal woman (and fail spectacularly) or he will come to find her cheerful nature a huge annoyance. Or both.
My heart belongs to Knightley, who loves Emma just as she is, despite her faults. Wentworth is my second choice. Neither of these men would come to resent the partners.
Liz: The best thing about Darcy is how awkward he is. The time he couldn’t think of anything to say to Lizzy, so he just asks, “What do you think of books?” – It’s so awkwardly endearing.
Chantelle: I like Darcy because he ultimately doesn’t care what other characters think, or how they judge him. He falls in love with Elizabeth on his own terms, and despite the wishes of Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. While he considers other peoples thoughts — such as acknowledging them to Lizzie in his first, disastrous proposal — he continues to be drawn to Lizzie’s fine eyes and merits. He shows up at places where he expects her to be, seemingly unaware that she is not interested in him, and courts her in this way from afar. This trait is both a good and bad thing, as he expects others to care about his perceptions.
Basically, I like that he loves Lizzie in spite of himself, in spite of others’ wishes, and how he only loves her more as he sees her strength in character. Her fine eyes draw him in, but her fine personality encourage him to actually love her in the end.
Anne: Like so many of us, Mr. Darcy is one man in public and an all together different man in private. In public he is stiff, cold, uncomfortable, and shy. In private he is warm, loving and compassionate.
Only those he loves, and those who love him in return, are admitted into his true company. Everyone else knows only his persona.
He is like a secret that Jane Austen shares with us. We get to see the true Mr. Darcy. And for this we love him. Not because he is perfect, but because his best qualities are hidden under bristles. Only love brings out his true self.
I married a Mr. Darcy, a man who is seen by many as private, brilliant, and even intimidating. I love feeling that I and I alone know the true depth of his loving and compassionate spirit.
Anonymous: I like Darcy because he is willing to change his mind when called out on his bad behavior. So many heroes in fiction are just perfect from the get go but he has flaws; flaws that interact with the plot even!
Kailey: When he’s confronted about his prejudice and general snobbishness, he actively works to change the way he views and treats people. Deep down he’s receptive to criticism and is willing to be a work in progress.
Birgit Post: Oh dearest, loveliest Fitzwilliam Darcy. How do I love thee, let me count the ways.
Because he secretly likes Elizabeth and it makes him crazy – just like happens to me and other girls and women. He is looking for reasons to not like Elizabeth, but just like anyone who is falling in love, Darcy loves everything about Elizabeth and all of her little traits.
I love that he loves that Elizabeth reads and says so in front of Miss Bingley and her sister, both of whom have cataloged for him all the reasons that connections with Lizzie and her family are a bad idea.
When pressed Darcy will express his feelings and the reason behind them. He did this in his letter to Elizabeth, when he saw her in Derbyshire, and when he proposed again near Longbourn. Darcy had the whole love affair inside his head with all of the feelings and reasons…just like a teen girl in love (and I was a teen girl when I first read about Darcy!).
Girl with caffeine: I think it’s because he reformed quite profoundly as a love interest (sure, he may have been a fine brother etc, but as a lover interest he was pretty lacking initially and his only competition were Mr Wickham and Mr Collins!). He realized he had been a jerk to Elizabeth – admittedly because she told him so… but he listened and acted and changed. He wasn’t good with words so he showed her with actions who he was – who he had become because of her. He told she had humbled him, but really he had just listened to her and become a better man.
That’s quite revolutionary now, let alone in that bastion of mysogny: regency England!
Eva: The reason for my love for Mr Darcy above all others can be summarised in two words : Colin Firth. The 1995 adaptation was shown on Australian television the same year I was studying P&P in English Literature, and despite having read and loved the book before watching the series I am afraid my perspective on Mr Darcy was tainted by Colin Firth’s portrayal and by Andrew Davies’ direction. He is handsome, honourable, loves his sister, and learns how to be a more accepting person. His servants think well of him, which is always a good sign.
Looking with a more mature, analytical mind at the Darcy in the book I can see where he is problematic as a character. However – he is more exciting and interesting and just /better/ than Mr Knightley (moulds a young girl to his tastes), Mr Ferrars (honourable yes but wishy-washy), Col. Brandon (again with the age gap – though he is probably my favourite after Darcy), Edmund Bertram (just ugh), Heathcliff or Rochester (do I need to explain?). Wentworth and Tilney are close I suppose. Oh damn I just re-read the brief for this and realise you said you are NOT comparing him to other Austen men. Having written all this I will leave it in anyhow.
Kai: Fitzwilliam Darcy is a fricking mess. He’s a good man, smart and kind and super protective of the people he cares about. He knows he has 0 people skills, and instead of, like, working on it, he just gets anxious about it, making things even worse, and I love that because same.
He’s Iconic(TM) because honestly who doesn’t want to be absolutely cherished by a guy who comes across to most as kind of an ass? It’s a side of him that only you would know, making it even more precious.
Jessica: I think for me Mr Darcy shows us a man who is not charming yet has a lot to offer but for only that one true love. He is overly selective and he is flawed because of it. BUT It’s a fantasy that makes the woman(Lizzie or the reader) in the situation that much more special because it takes so much more for him to open up to her. Wickham could charm the pants off of anyone but that wasn’t special. Mr Darcy was kind of an ass but he worked hard to win Lizzie’s affections. It wasn’t easy for him and I think many women want that from their relationship. You want your guy to bust his ass for you and put in a true effort. Obviously there are all sorts of wacky dramatic and literary obstacles there to make the story more fun but it’s all about how much he wanted her and how much he was willing to do to win her over. THAT is why I love Mr Darcy.
Reanna: I think that Darcy has become such an icon because of his journey from an outwardly toxic male – rude, self-focused, and judgemental, to become (thanks to a catalyst – Lizzie) a kinder, more open, and respectful person (especially towards individuals he’d originally scorned, i.e. the Bennets). Additionally, the course of the novel eventually reveals Darcy’s inner goodness, heroism, and devotion. I believe that it is these aspects that endear Darcy to so many – wish fulfillment! I’m sure many of us have wondered in our own lives… perhaps inside that arrogant, hurtful jerk is true romantic hero capable of incredible kindness and devotion! (Spoiler alert: It’s a trap!!!) Darcy is the epitome of romantic wish fulfillment in a world widely populated by total dickheads.