'All For the Love of Darcy'
Darcyholic Diversions Month Long Anniversary Celebration
with Sally Smith O'Rourke
(Thanks for being a part of Darcyholic Diversions for the last year! Sally is one of the many authors contributing to the Grand Prize for this month's contest--A Kindle complete with many of your favorite Jane Austen Inspired Stories. We have many other give aways that will be available as well and will be posted in the next few days. In the interim, be SURE you write your entry in the comment thread here At This Contest Link. Commenting on Sally's post, or any of the guest posts this month will serve as additional entries. But you HAVE to add your entry in the main thread first to be considered! )
Can you believe it? Darcyholic Diversions is a year old. Barb tells me the official date was January 12 but the celebration is the entire month of February. An entire month of ‘Loving Darcy’. And we all do. To kick things off I’m going to talk about Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth Bennet? Though this was ‘Loving Darcy’ month. It is but there would be no Mr. Darcy without Elizabeth Bennet.
Jane herself said of Elizabeth that she was “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print” and as far as I’m concerned, even after 200 years, she still is. Playful and lively, intelligent and good-natured, strong and independent she is one of the most complex fictional characters ever written.
Like so many stories that have come after Pride and Prejudice, borrowing heavily from the Austen classic, our protagonists, Elizabeth and Darcy dislike like each other. However for Mr. Darcy, at least, that changes very quickly. After declaring in public that she is only tolerable he is taken with her energy and easy playfulness and begins to watch her whenever they are thrown together, even positioning himself to eavesdrop on her conversations. Her quick wit makes him see her face as “rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes”. In spite of having initially seen “more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form” he is mortified to acknowledge that her figure is actually light and pleasing.
Her fierce independence is an even stronger draw and we see his internal conflict clearly when he says he would not want his sister walking alone over three miles of countryside but admits that Elizabeth’s doing it makes her even more beautiful by brightening her fine eyes. The conflict he feels is, of course, the reason for his ungentlemanly first proposal.
Elizabeth is spurred on in her dislike by his own arrogance and Wickham’s story but as early as the day after the assembly ball, Charlotte comments that Darcy, with his family and fortune has an excuse for being proud. Elizabeth agrees and admits that she could have easily forgiven his pride if he had not mortified hers. It is her injured pride that causes her prejudice and of course it is his prejudice that turns his pride to arrogance.
The main plot point that made me want to learn more about Austen is Lizzy and Darcy looking into themselves and facing their flaws and faults and then making the concerted effort to fix them. Reading his letter makes her feel deeply ashamed. “How despicably have I acted!” she proclaims to herself in thinking back on Wickham’s actions and words. She is justifiably humiliated by her blindness and vanity of having been pleased by Wickham’s attentions and offended by Darcy’s neglect. Ultimately she admits to Jane that her actions made her uncomfortable, unhappy even knowing just how weak, vain and nonsensical she had been.
We witness his transformation when they meet at Pemberley but he puts it into words when he proposes the second time. “I have been a selfish being all my life. I was given good principles but left to follow them in pride and conceit.” Admitting too, that she humbled him when she first rejected him, “You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.”
The change each makes is to better themselves not to win the affection of the other, which, of course is why it works. It is a difficult thing to admit, even to oneself, that there are flaws in your character. In reading Jane’s letters you know that she knew her faults and spent her life trying to overcome or rectify them. But it is those very flaws that make her characters alive for us. These people written 200 years ago are still relatable today, they are not perfect; they are not always of one mood; they are people, fully rounded but with edges that still need smoothing. It didn’t matter to her if she was creating people of the upper classes or servant class they all were complete and complex characters to whom everyone could connect, then and now.
Darcy would likely not have been attracted to anyone else in Hertfordshire. It was Elizabeth who drew him out (quite unintentionally), compelling him to stay in the country. In fact it is his growing affection that triggers his complicity in the Bingley sisters’ plan to remove their brother from his growing attachment to Jane. Seeing that his friend was falling in love, he hoped separating them would end it for Bingley and himself. However, absence seems to have made Darcy’s heart grow fonder as his Kent proposal shows.
All of this happens because of Elizabeth Bennet. Imagine, if you can, Mr. Darcy with anyone else. Even beautiful, sweet Jane Bennet was no intellectual match for him. It is insupportable to imagine him being attracted by any of the other three Bennet girls or Charlotte Lucas. And the possibility of Darcy with Caroline Bingley: heaven forbid.
No! Without Elizabeth Bennet there would be no Mr. Darcy and no Pride and Prejudice.
I have imagined the man who may have inspired Jane to write Mr. Darcy as she did. Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen delves into the complex nature of the man who may well have been the basis of Elizabeth Bennet’s Mr. Darcy.
Links for Sally Smith O’Rourke
http://www.amazon.com/Yours-Affectionately-Austen-Sally-ORourke/dp/1891437038/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353357655&sr=8-1&keywords=yours+affectionately+jane+austen (print edition)
Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage
The Maidenstone Lighthouse
VIDEO TRAILERS – YouTube LINKS