When he was conceived by Jane Austen and read by women everywhere before movies came along, I wonder how he was pictured in the minds of women. Of course, I’m sure that propriety forbade them to speak openly of such private imaginations. Well, let’s face it, as Jane said, a “lady’s imagination is very rapid” and who knows where it will lead besides matrimony.
As modern women, we are blessed with the advent of movies that have cast Darcy in the bodies of handsome actors. It’s here in our 21st-century world when we read Pride & Prejudice, we no doubt picture one of these men wearing a cravat and looking quite dashing in their period clothing.
I think it’s safe to say that most ladies love Colin Firth as the Darcy of their dreams. My tastes lean toward Elliot Cowan as my swoon-worthy Darcy. (Who you say? He played Darcy in the fictional world of “Lost in Austen.”) There was something about his appearance, characterization, and voice that made me go weak in the knees.
Perhaps, you enjoyed Matthew MacFadyen in the role, and our mothers and grandmothers kept their eyes on Laurence Olivier who moved women in 1940. There were others who made it on film to play the role in various adaptations. No matter who your mind wanders to as Fitzwilliam, he’s still the arrogant aristocrat we find utterly fascinating.
However, our beloved Darcy does have his flaws. Before Elizabeth finally humbles him and puts him in his place, he really is annoying. The man never smiles. Of course, if you like aristocratic snobs and are one yourself, I’m sure you think he’s well behaved in his treatment of others. Wonderful Jane Austen pens the most powerful scene after Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth, totally undone by the feelings he has tried so hard to repress. After all, his love is a sacrificial gift due to Miss Bennet’s status in life. Hear him declare: “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.”
But alas, Elizabeth will have none of it, as she puts him in his place.
“From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”
Jane Austen’s colorful characters are worth their weight in gold. Darcy, of course, is just one of the many leading men we can fantasize about in Austen’s works. Is he my favorite among all of Jane’s creations? No, he isn’t.
Now that I’ve shocked you, you’ll just have to wait and see which man moves my heart or “floats my boat” as Amanda Price would say in Lost in Austen.
Enjoy your daydreams of Darcy, and do tell, who is your favorite!