Saturday, 21 July 2012

Is that you Mr. Darcy? Darcy figures in Modern Pop Culture by guest blogger Susan Wells

Long after the publication of Jane Austen's beloved "Pride & Prejudice," the world has been on a never-ending quest to recreate the gentlemanly Darcy figure in books, television shows, and movies again and again. It comes as no surprise how frequently you'll see strands and threads of the handsome, prideful, and mysterious Mr. Darcy weaved into modern literature and film. In fact, Mr. Darcy is probably Jane Austen's most well-known, recreated character of all time.

Women, in particular, have become rather obsessed with Darcy ever since Jane Austen first penned him in 1813. Why is it that one character has completely transformed the male figure in both film and literature? Well, if there is a man more balanced in both heartfelt sincerity and prideful sass than Mr. Darcy, I'd love to know who. No seriously – I would.

Mr. Darcy is a combination of both utter perfection and human imperfection. He snubs the beautiful Elizabeth Bennett is such an artful way at the beginning, but wins her heart and hand with ever-so-subtle romantic gestures in the end. He isn't the only character that ever behaved in such a way, however. Study some of your favorite shows or movies in modern pop culture and you'll be surprised how often you'll see Darcy behaviors embedded into the personalities and personas of male leads. In fact, though he is seated deep in the past, Mr. Darcy manages to inject himself into most every romantic male lead nowadays. Check out these three famous characters that embody the Darcy figure in modern pop culture.

Matthew Crawley

Downton Abbey has given a new life to the once second-rate PBS station. Both women and men tune in each week to see the lives of the Grantham family unfold in all their mysterious twists and turns. We were first introduced to Matthew Crawley when he moves to Downton Abbey to reluctantly court the beautiful, headstrong Lady Mary. We couldn't help but feel immensely sorry for Lady Mary when she was instructed by her father and mother that she would have to marry her cousin – Matthew Crawley – in order to keep the family estate intact. (Just like many of the Jane Austen female leads, women in Downton Abbey weren't able to inherit from their fathers). Yet as the episodes roll by and Mr. Crawley's sweet demeanor and kind nature begins to show through in his interactions with Mary, we learn that he is in fact a very lovable, kind gentleman. Mary's and Matthew's relationship actually resembles that of Elizabeth's and Mr. Darcy's relationship in many ways. Matthew's reluctance, stubborn will, subtle romantic gestures, ability to handle crises, and deep infatuation for Mary can't help but harken me back to the pages of "Pride & Prejudice."

Edward Cullen

I did everything in my power to leave this pesky, cheesy teenage vampire of my list, but I'll admit it: He really does embody the Darcy figure in more ways than one. Much like Mr. Darcy, Edward is introduced into the pages of Twilight as this ethereal, intriguing figure, but he then unexpectedly mistreats the female lead – Bella Swan. The crucial scene in which Edward's uncanny behavior hurts Bella's feelings is nearly identical to the scene where Elizabeth overhears Darcy say that she is not handsome. Like Mr. Darcy, Edward's behavior is greatly misunderstood to those in the outside world. Acts such as begging to get out of the same biology class as Bella and unexpectedly breaking up with her may seem like cruel and hurtful acts, much like when Darcy persuaded Mr. Bingley to not propose to Jane Bennett. As we come to find out though, both Darcy's and Edward's acts were a means of protection for the people they loved most. In both Edward and Darcy we see two characters that are fiercely loyal in a way that makes them seem nearly a bit cruel at times. But isn't that why we love them so?

Peeta Mellark

Readers weren't sure what to make of the young Peeta Mellark when they first met him in the "Hunger Games." As such a quiet, mysterious figure, it is difficult to know whether Peeta is a character Katniss can trust or is somebody that she should steer clear of to avoid getting a knife in the back – quite literally. Katniss makes no secret of her ardent distrust of Peeta in the beginning, and her thoughts about Peeta are similar to Elizabeth's serious doubts about Mr. Darcy. In fact, both Katniss' and Elizabeth's deep concerns about their male counterparts are plastered throughout the pages of "Pride & Prejudice" and "The Hunger Games." With time, however, both Peeta's and Darcy's mysterious behaviors slowly peel away to reveal diamonds in the rough. Peeta's odd behaviors and actions are to protect a woman he is deeply in love, despite the consequences, as are Darcy's. Just like Darcy, Peeta, too, also stands strong under immense drama and stress. He remains cool as a cucumber during a fight-til'-the death match, similar to how Darcy coolly patches up the immense scandal surrounding Elizabeth's sister’s marriage to Mr. Wickham.

Though Jane Austen only wrote him into one of her books, Mr. Darcy has remained a strong character that modern film writers and novelists have recreated in their own works. No, these three characters aren't the only ones you'll find that resemble the beloved Darcy. In fact, keep an eye out and you'll be surprised at how many times you'll see him pop up time and time again.

Susan Wells

Susan is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile insurance, helping consumers find the best car insurance quotes online. Susan welcomes comments and questions.


Alexa Adams said...

Fascinating stuff, but "once second-rate PBS"???? You mean the station that airs all the Austen adaptations? The place thousands, including myself, send money each year because we adore PBS programming? As a Georgette Heyer, Darcy inspired hero might say, "doing it a bit brown," don't you think?

P O Dixon said...

Matthew's reluctance, stubborn will, subtle romantic gestures, ability to handle crises, and deep infatuation for Mary can't help but harken me back to the pages of "Pride & Prejudice."

So, that explains why I can't get enough of Matthew and Mary!

I loved reading your post. Thanks, Susan!