Ah, Mr. Darcy! The pride in “Pride & Prejudice.” The wealthy, arrogant, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, he of the 10,000 pounds a year
[*ASIDE: 10,000 a year may not sound like much, but consider that in 1810 the average laborer earned a mere 20 pounds a year. Of course Darcy had to pay for all his servants and upkeep on his vast estates, but the 10,000 pounds was his annual income — about $ 700,000 – $1 million dollars in today’s money, and only about 4% of his overall wealth. Check out this analysis from the Jane Austen’s World blog.http://tinyurl.com/6l7aws.]
Fitzwilliam Darcy is the man who has to be dragged by his amiable friend to a public assembly, and then stands around looking down his nose at everyone, sneering at the locals for engaging in such frivolous entertainment, commenting: “Every savage can dance.”
A man who prides himself on his perfect manners, but refuses to dance with Elizabeth, because “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”
Tall, dark, handsome, rich – but not exactly a charmer. Which makes it so much fun to watch his reluctant, but growing, fascination with Elizabeth Bennett, culminating in one of the funniest proposals ever written:
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
If only he’d stopped there! Maybe Lizzie could have overcome her dislike of him, in the face of all that ardent admiration.
But no, he had to go on and explain himself [narrative in the novel; dialogue, in the 1995 BBC screenplay by Andrew Davies]:
“In declaring myself thus, I am fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgment.”
Mr. Darcy is an intelligent man, yet he has no notion of how insulting it is to tell a young lady that he loves her against his better judgment.
Which is fortunate for the reader, or the story would have ended there, instead of going through many misunderstandings and revelations en route to (spoiler alert, if you need one) the HEA.
Of the many screen adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, which Mr. Darcy is your favorite?
Colin Firth, in the 1995 BBC miniseries with Jennifer Ehle?
Or, in some modern spins on the story —
What about Martin Henderson in the lively 2004 Bollywood version, Bride & Prejudice, with the lovely Aishwarya Rai? (and it’s nice to see Naveen Andrews outside of LOST, as “Bairah” – the Mr. Bingley role)
Colin Firth (encore!) as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary, with Renee Zelwegger as Bridget? (2001)
Who would you like to see in the next adaptation of Pride & Prejudice? (there’s bound to be more!)