A Defense of Mr. Darcy

There is a post on Buzzfeed about Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr. Darcy being a douche, and I feel like defending one of my favorite literary (as well as film adaptation) characters. Hopefully, I stay on the subject.

  1. The story was written in the early 1800s, when the size of a man’s pocketbook was more important than his personality. As many people who are acquainted with P&P know, the broody Mr. Darcy has a fortune of £10,000 a year, which makes him very appealing. Although, to the Bennet family, he is a haughty ass.
  2. He comes from the upper-class, therefore being in Hertfordshire makes him ill-at-ease, and he becomes a complete jerk. While that is no excuse, it could pass off as one for the Regency period. Also, his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is exactly the same when meeting the Bennet family towards the end of the novel.
  3. He could technically be shy. He doesn’t really engage with anyone else in conversation outside of Mr. Bingley and his sisters, Elizabeth, occasionally Jane, his aunt, or his cousin. Despite his being from the upper-class, he cannot be comfortable around strangers.
  4. Because the story takes place in a different period of history, the actions of a man are wholly different to how they are now. Men weren’t supposed to showcase emotions, and I would imagine Darcy was raised to maintain a stiff upper lip. He genuinely cares for Lizzie, it is obvious if you are able to read between the lines, but because of his rigidity, he fails at first. When he first proposes, he brings up his family and the inferiority of the match. Even after she spurns him, and he leaves (I almost wrote ‘quits’ like they do in the novel and films) his aunt’s manor, he still loves her.
  5. Someone references the fact he doesn’t dance. I fail to see the negative in this. A lot of men in this day and age don’t dance. Yes, it is extremely attractive if a man wants to dance with you, but we’re not holding assemblies in homes nowadays where a man can dance with as many women as he chooses, and not everyone is into the club scene. So, Mr. Darcy’s dislike of dancing is not a deal-breaker.
  6. He likes a woman that reads. Miss Bingley quips (in an attempt to cut down Elizabeth) that Lizzie cares more for reading than cards, to which Mr. Darcy replies that he likes a woman who reads.

Basically, history has changed, and the story gets lost in translation. There has to be some reason why women who read this like Darcy more than they like Mr. Collins. I was tainted by Colin Firth before reading the novel, but I still liked Mr. Darcy throughout the book, which was not the case when I read Little Women. I found Jo and Laurie quite contemptible, while I found Lizzie and Darcy even more charming. Do you have any thoughts? Do you think Darcy is a character lost in history, or do you think he is just a giant douche?


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