NAME: Fitzwilliam Darcy
ABOUT: If you are somewhere in your mid-thirties, or perhaps a little younger, or even a little older – in fact if you are female (or perhaps male) – actually you could be anyone of any age…….then the name Mr Darcy conjures up that image of maleness, grrrr'ness and a delicious bit of dark broodiness! I admit I had not read Pride and Prejudice, until after the BBC's drama starring the delightful Colin Firth (who of course also starred as Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones films the first of which was rather loosely based upon the novel) as Fitzwilliam Darcy, and it is true to say that the two are not terribly alike, although I thought Firth captured the essence of Austin's writing of the character.
If most of us stopped our swooning over the “Darcy” long enough to g ive it a bit of thought, we would more than very likely find him a intolerable chauvinist, and ensure he drowned in that pond (a little harsh perhaps). But the fictional character plays into that little bit of many women, that “oh Mr Darcy” effec t.
SPOILER ALERT – if you have never read Pride & Prejudice, but think one day you might BEWARE the following gives away the plot!
In Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy is the proprietor of a large estate in Derbyshire, known as Pemberly, and with a yearly income which exceeds the princely sum of £10,000 a year. He is a very wealthy gentleman, and therefore an extremely eligible bachelor! Elizabeth Bennett, the main protagonist, (and perhaps heroine!!) meets Mr Darcy at a ball, where he is rude refusing to dance with her and making remarks that she hears. But of course, the gruff, rude gentleman gradually becomes attracted to her, and attempts to woo her, unfortunately he is unable most of the time to hide his feelings of superiority, even objecting when his good friend Mr Bingley falls for Elizabeth's sister Jane, managing to persuade him she doesn’t reciprocate, thus ensuring initially that there is no marriage proposal…..so, so far we have a story of a thoroughly unlike-able character, who even when attempting to court Elizabeth manages to appear rude and unkind; and it is Elizabeth's discovery of Mr Darcy's disapproval and subsequent meddling, that ensures she rebuffs, and in fact, cannot really see his attraction to her or the slightly clumsy way in which he shows it. Add to the mix Mr Wickham a outwardly charming fellow who spins Elizabeth a sob story about his treatment from Mr Darcy and his family and the charming Miss Bennett really doesn’t like him much at all!
Of course the day has to come when Mr Darcy cannot stay quiet any longer and in a cringingly unromantic moment he not only declares his love for Elizabeth, and offers her his hand in marriage but reminds Elizabeth (who comes from a respectable but financially straitened family) also of the gap in their social status and his superiority to her. Unsurprisingly Elizabeth is offended and refuses him point blank, making sure he knows that she knows about the Jane/Bingley meddling and his apparent mistreatment of Mr Wickham. Mr Darcy being Mr Darcy, leaves angry and wounded, and that night pens a letter to Elizabeth explaining all of his motives, his feelings and tells Elizabeth the truth about Mr Wickham who had attempted among other misdoings to elope with Darcy's younger
Up to now, those not initiated in the cult of Darcy, will of course be thinking what a horror of a man! But it is now in the book that we see the reincarnation of Mr Darcy, who after the initial anger and wounding of pride at Elizabeth's refusal and criticism dissipates, takes a bit of a look at himself and his behaviour, and almost as though seeing himself for the first time, discovers how others may perceive him and his actions – resolving to re-evaluate himself and the way he behaves!
Elizabeth meanwhile spends some time with her Aunt and Uncle, and as tourists they visit Darcy's estate Pemberly. Darcy is not expected to be there, and Elizabeth is initially embarrassed to see him, but of course she is faced with the new improved Mr Darcy, who behaves as a perfect gentleman towards her, and she is shocked and delighted at the kindness he shows towards both herself and her Aunt and Uncle.
But it is the actions of Mr Wickham, and Elizabeth's youngest sister, Lydia, that really seal the deal on this new and improved Mr Darcy. Lydia falls prey to the charms of the slippery Mr Wickham and they run off together, and it is Darcy who tracks them down, and ensures that Lydia marries the errant Mr Wickham to keep her family from social disgrace. It is Mr Darcy's attempts to keep Elizabeth from finding out his involvement that of course ingratiates him even more to the reader (and it is hinted that Darcy parts with a considerable amount of his own money to ensure the marriage and Lydia's respectability is preserved)!
The happy ending! Mr Darcy tells Mr Bingley of his meddling, releasing him to return to Longbourn to court Jane, Mr Darcy accompanies him and again proposes to the now very smitten Elizabeth who, of course, accepts and……..
they live happily ever after!
WHAT MAKES HIM RAZBERRY CANDY: Every female reader of Pride and Prejudice wants to be Elizabeth, and be responsible for the change in the man, all of us convinced we could also turn a dark and brooding man, who none the less has a heart in very much the right place, into the more sensitive and worthy version!