Tuesday, 16 August 2011

AUSTENESQUE EXTRAVAGANZA - TALKING MR DARCY



This post is part the Travelling Tuesday in the Austenesque Extravaganza at Meredith's Austenesque Reviews. Commenting here and leaving your e-mail address , you'll get a chance to win one of the prizes of the Amazing Austenesque Giveaway.


Mr Darcy is Jane Austen most beloved hero. What are the qualities that have made him a cult beyond time, the dream  man of so many  women?

In my "Talking Jane Austen with ... " sessions I have often asked  my guest authors to answer this question. Today I'm asking you, what makes him the iconic romantic hero he has become? What do you especially like in this character?

1. WHO IS MR DARCY IN PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?


PHYSICAL APPEARANCE


Here is how he is introduced by Jane Austen on his first appearance at the Meryton Assembly:

“Mr Bingley was good looking and gentlemanlike;… but his friend Mr Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr Bingley,…”


PERSONALITY

Mr Darcy’s temperament is analysed in comparison to Mr Bingley’s. This is how he is seen at the beginning of the novel .


“Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of character. Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own he never appeared dissatisfied. On the strength of  Darcy’s regard Bingley had the firmest reliance, and on his judgement the highest opinion. In understanding Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient but Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, abd fastidious, and his manners, though well bred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly advantage. Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving offence”.

His strong temper, his self- confidence, his contempt for inferior social ranks are the result of his upbringing. (But we know he will change in the end!)

BACKGROUND

He has inherited his great estates five years before the story begins, at his father’s death. His patrimony amounts to ten thousand a year. He is of noble rank, since he is the grandson of an earl.

FAMILY CONNECTIONS

Mr Darcy lives at Pemberley, his magnificent residence with a huge park in Derbyshire, with his beloved younger sister, Georgiana. He is kind and protective to her, especially, since her great disappointment with Mr Wickham (do you remember? She was going to elope with him but her brother stopped her just in time!) Looking at his tender affection to sweet Georgiana, Elizabeth starts changing her mind on Darcy (or was it because of … Pemberley?)

IN LOVE WITH THE HEROINE: FIRST PROPOSAL 

Mr Darcy denies even to himself that he is attracted by Eliza Bennet and these are the first words referring to her he utters at Meryton, when asked by his friend Mr Bingley to dance with her: She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men…” . Elizabeth and Mr Darcy meet again at Netherfield, at Longbourn and at Rosings but nothing make her - or the reader - suspect he is in love. So his marriage proposal comes utterly unexpected and is definitely rejected. Elizabeth is offended by his words regarding her social inferiority and inadequacy. So , infuriated, she accuses Darcy of being the cause of her sister’s and her new friend Wickham’s unhappiness and refuses him as the last man on Earth she would ever accept to marry. Well, these are not exactly the words she uses…
(Have you ever seen my collage of the first proposals?)

... AND SECOND PROPOSAL

 Mr Darcy reveals himself generous, tender, honest, trustful and, little by little, Elizabeth comes to love him. Her “conversion” from contempt to love starts with the reading of Darcy’s letter revealing the truth about Wickham. Then, it goes on at Pemberley when she listens to Mrs Reynolds’s – the housekeeper – appreciating words for her kind master and especially after seeing his transformation into a loving caring brother to Georgiana. After discovering his involvement in the happy finale of her sister’s elopment with Wickham … she’s terribly ashamed for her wrong first impressions. Fortunately, there will be a greatly welcome second proposal…

Image by Laurel Ann at Austenprose
2. MR DARCY ACCORDING TO ...

"I love the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy, because I think they both have to overcome a significant flaw in their character before they can appreciate the other. Darcy is perhaps the ultimate challenge for an Austen heroine"




Susan Adriani (from Talking Jane Austen with ... Susan Adriani )


"Mr. Darcy's manners may not be as engaging as Colonel Fitzwilliam's, Captain Wentworth's, or Henry Tilney's, but he is, without a doubt, the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome! While we are initially given to believe that he is proud, haughty, and aloof—we soon discover there is more to him than our initial impression. His quiet brooding lends him a very powerful and enigmatic presence, one that is all the more enticing once we learn how much of a gentleman Darcy truly is, and how brightly he burns for Elizabeth Bennet. The fact that he takes her reproofs to heart, and truly makes an effort to change his haughty ways so he could someday earn her good opinion, only sweetens the deal!"

Kara Louise  ( from Will a Modern Darcy do for you? Guestblog
"I think some of the traits of a modern day Darcy would be that he is refreshingly polite (a true gentleman), a man of integrity, a man with the right priorities, respectful, and one who is willing to listen to criticism and seeks to improve himself if needed".






Mary Lydon Simonsen ( from The Perfect Bride for Mr Darcy - Interview


I think Darcy’s appeal is that he is not perfect. Better yet, he is a man capable of alteration. Because of Elizabeth’s rejection of his proposal, he recognizes his defects and makes the conscious decision to change his ways because he wants to be a man worthy of Elizabeth’s love. I had the same effect on my husband, except he didn’t have Darcy’s fortune




 Pamela Aidan (from Talking Jane Austen with ... Pamela Aidan)     
     When you say a “cult model hero,” we can only be talking about the popularity of Darcy post-1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice. Previous to that production, I think we’d be hard pressed to find evidence of Darcy as cult hero. It was that 1995 production in which Colin Firth interpreted Darcy to the world that started this Austen character on the road to wide-spread acclaim. The elements were all present or potentially so as Austen wrote them, of course. Every regency novel written after Austen owes its plot and characters to her story of initial antagonism between a man and woman of unequal status. But it was only after Firth’s portrayal of a Darcy that is vulnerable as well as proud, with a sense of humor and a real admiration of Elizabeth prior to the first proposal that this Austen character shot into the company of heroes. The later version, starring Matthew McFadyen continued, to some degree, this new interpretation of Darcy as more than a stiff poker tersely delivering set-downs to all and sundry.

Victoria Connelly (from Talking Jane Austen with ... Victoria Connelly


"I think Mr Darcy is a hero for all time because he isn’t afraid to admit to his mistakes. He’s also willing to change for the woman he loves and that’s irresistible! And he cares deeply for Elizabeth and does all he can to safeguard her and her family"





And now it's your turn! What makes Mr Darcy so special? 



28 comments:

Nancy Kelley said...

Darcy is my favorite literary hero, and for many of the reasons mentioned by the authors you've interviewed. He truly loves Elizabeth, he admires her without even being aware of it. True, his pride at the beginning of the story makes Elizabeth's disdain understandable, but as she points out later, if he had not really been amiable, he would never have fallen in love with her.

maribea said...

I've been in love with Mr Darcy since the first time I have read Pride and Prejudice. I don't care a thing about people who say that romance ruins women's minds creating too high hopes and expectations. I loved him and the way he discovered he was in love. I loved him because he is not perfect, but he can admit his wrongs and try to do amends. I loved him for his small great tokens of love to Elizabeth. And he is a loyal friend and I do honour my friends as my most precious jewels. Yes, I am desperate romantic am I not? After all, I've just finished writing a new romance on my own. When I don't read love stories, I create new ones!!!
maribea@tiscali.it

Blodeuedd said...

I just do not know. I mean honestly he is an ass at first, you kind of want to kick him, but at the same time I just love him. Lol. He just grows on yoi

pseudophilosopher said...

He has silent strength, is tender towards Lizzy and Georgina, and treats his tenants and servants well :)

Elsina said...

His sense of honour and his strength, the feeling when he is by your side, nothing can happen to you. He wil take care :)

onemorelurker1 said...

Very interesting to read all of the opinions above. As said by others he has flaws (social-flaws) but he admits them to her and more importantly is eager to change for her and be worthy of her. Also he has many good traits which we and Lizzy find out throught the story.

An important aspect to me is that he respects and admires her. I particulaly liked the ending of the book, where she keeps teasing him and it's written that Georgiana can't believe how she could do that and moreover her brother actually enjoys it.

A man that admires you, wants to be worthy of you, is intelligent, a gentleman, loyal, high moral standards, just. What is there not to like.

OML :)

Anne said...

I have loved Mr. Darcy for a very long time. What I like about him the most is that he is a man of honour. I also like that he can admit his mistakes and is kind to others. I loved his second proposal to Elizabeth.

Jakki L. said...

I really don't have anything to add. Darcy's willingness to change for the one he loves, prove his worthiness to gain her love and respect, his loyalty,... oh I could go on and on, but it has all already been said! :)

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

his care and compassion revealing his core character. i especially like Pamela's thoughts on 'Firth’s portrayal of a Darcy that is vulnerable as well as proud, with a sense of humor and a real admiration of Elizabeth'.
i agree with Victoria's sentiment, 'willing to change for the woman he loves and that’s irresistible!' as well as
Kara Louise's insights on Darcy as '(a true gentleman), a man of integrity, a man with the right priorities, respectful'
i love that Darcy 'takes her reproofs to heart, and truly makes an effort to change his haughty ways so he could someday earn her good opinion' as Susan says,it "only sweetens the deal!"
definitely agree with Beth on Darcy as 'the ultimate challenge' but love that the challenge has been won and overcome and that's what makes Darcy sooooo SPECIAL !!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I love seeing all the different incarnations of Darcy. I just reread P&P (again) and was reminded of why I love his character so much.

avidreader25 [at] gmail [dot] com

astarrynight said...

I just adore Darcy. He transforms throughout this novel in a similar way to Elizabeth. He's pride is unwavering in the beginning of the story. Through his relationship with Elizabeth, he begins to see how his pride affects the relationships around him. And I love his purpose for his actions. I do not necessarily agree with his actions, but I know that his motives were pure and selfless (Bingley, Georgianna, etc).

phastings said...

Beneath that proud demeanor beats a compassionate heart. That's what I love most about Mr. Darcy.

mbreakfield said...

Darcy is my favorite hero, because of all the reasons mentioned, as well as, his determination to make himself worthy of Elizabeth. I always attributed a lot of his aloofness to shyness. Because I'm shy myself, I know that my reactions have sometimes been misinterpreted as aloofness.
marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

Margaret said...

I think it's a little more realistic when two people in a novel do not fall in love at first sight. Mr. Darcy is a typical male of his status in this era with an arrogance that as the story progresses it softens (of course with the presence of Elizabeth) It is what I guess makes me attracted to his character. Behind every good man is a good woman as they say....

singitm@hotmail.com

Georgie Lee said...

Mr. Darcy is the misunderstood strong, silent type. He watches and pines for Elizabeth from afar before announcing his feeling. What woman doesn't dream of being adored?

MonicaP said...

I love that he is a man of honor and integrity, who takes his responsibilities seriously and really loves his little sister. He's loyal to his friends and family and doesn't let people push him around. He's proud but willing to apologize and take Lizzy's words to heart. I love that she is like the key that unlocks him and lets his inner self out. Plus he is tall and handsome and provides security.

Rebecca said...

Oh what a fun way to look at Darcy! I heart him, I really do...it's fun the way we all interpret him and what he means to us :o)

A Scattering said...

I think we could discuss this forever and always come back around to the fact that he simply speaks to the part of us that loves strength. The Austenesque Extravaganza is ripping fun!

Elaine elaine489@gmail.com

Kelli said...

I just love the way he loves Elizabeth!!

Emily C. A. Snyder said...

This is just the blog I needed today - thank you!

For me (warning: theatrical type ahead) what I love about Firth's interpretation IS that Darcy is all about the class distinctions; it's ingrained in him, he must overcome his prejudice.

With McFayden, he said that he saw Darcy as simply, and almost cripplingly shy - the sort that says just the wrong thing because he is NOT as quick on his feet as Lizzy.

McFayden was refreshing for me, since in reading and being most familiar with the 1995 mini-series, I had gone all class-conscious.

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm. Thanks for this post! :D

maribea said...

How wonderful to see how many people out there love Jane Austen and Darcy...I'm carrying my audiobook version of P&P with me in September during my holiday...I can't wait until I'm with Elizabeth and Darcy again...

Anna said...

Even when he's being an arrogant ass he's still trying to be a gentleman. And he's willing to change for love. I love Captain Wentworth more, but Mr. Darcy will always have a special place in my heart.

Margay said...

I think it is very hard to pin it down because Mr. Darcy is different things to different women. I think for me it's his ability to come to terms with his preconceived notions about Elizabeth and his decision not to let them get in the way of being with her. He swallows a lot of pride to do it and his love for Elizabeth always remained true and steadfast.

araminta18 said...

Hmm...I dunno! I guess it's just the fact that he is who he is--and I love the fact that he isn't as social or as willing to please as Bingley. He doesn't have the patience for the (what he considers) silly rules of society. And he values good qualities, no matter where they are found...and he doesn't hurt that he looks amazing in a wet shirt. :)

Valerie said...

Enjoyed the comments by the authors and the postings above. Hmmm... what do I like about Mr. Darcy?? Even though he comes off at first as stuffy & rude, he's actually very much a gentleman, concerned with caring for his younger sister and the management of his property & estates. I like that he fell in love with Lizzie despite her "lack of fortune". Even though Lizzie refused him the first time he proposed, I really loved that she was still on his mind, and followed her to Rosings so that he could see her. Loved the letter he wrote to her explaining himself... At this point, he no longer seemed stuffy to me, but honest, deep... he changed, and that's where I found him to be the "man" I loved in his character. I could go on.... LOL

Lúthien84 said...

Why is Mr Darcy so special? I agree with what the authors have said in the interviews and guest posts. His willingness to acknowledge that he has flaws and try to change them for the better. I believe a proud man like him would not have open his eyes and admitted his faults and errors of his ways if Elizabeth did not deliver her famous set-down. Once he realises that she may be right, he slowly mends his ways in the hope that he may earn her respect again even though it was uncertain whether he'll meet her again. That is what makes him so special and a true hero, besides Captain Wentworth of course.

Amanda said...

I think it's his steadfastness and he is who is and whoever be damned. He loves Elizabeth and even after rejecting him - does he run out on her, get mad, destroy her or her family, do anything out of spite? Nope. He stays loyal.

Kelly Ann said...

Darcy is certainly one of my favorite leading men! I love the collage you put together of the first proposals! I like the last two rather than the 1940 and 1980 one! Loved the post!