Who Is Fitzwilliam Darcy?
True confession—when I read Pride
and Prejudice in the eighth grade, I didn’t like it. As a matter of fact, I
have a vague recollection of specifically disliking Darcy. Ironically, my
opinion of him must have coincided with Elizabeth’s initial view, but just as
she did, I gave him a second chance and discovered there was more to him than
my first impression.
My Darcy obsession began in 1995 when I watched the Pride and Prejudice mini-series. I was
in love! It wasn’t Colin Firth I fell for (although he’s gorgeous); it was the
enigmatic Mr. Darcy. Before the series was even over, I had read P&P, and
shortly after that, all the rest of Austen’s novels.
So what is it about Mr. Darcy that makes so many of us swoon?
Andrew Davies, who wrote the script for the 1995 series, had this to say:
“Darcy is the perfect romantic hero because he’s mysterious enough, standoffish
enough and arrogant enough to give women a little bit of a tremor of fear as
well as attraction. In a strange way, I think that’s important. I also think
he’s a very misunderstood character.”
In order to write about Darcy, I’ve tried to understand him
better. First of all, in spite of Elizabeth’s angry accusation, Darcy is a gentleman in the best sense of the
word. As such, he is a loving brother, a loyal friend, and concerned landlord.
He’s also honest. Darcy says of himself, “…disguise of any kind is my
abhorrence.” In terms of his personality, he is an introvert. He sees things
logically and literally and is a bit of a control freak.
As textbook example of an introvert, Darcy tends to be more an
observer than a talker, which can make him seem a little mysterious. Don’t be
fooled, however, into thinking that just because he doesn’t talk much there’s
nothing going on inside. There’s a lot happening in his head. Before he gives
an opinion, he has to think it through and/or rehearse his response. When Darcy
had something important to say to Elizabeth, especially something as
emotionally charged as answering her accusations against him, he felt more
comfortable saying it in a letter because he could think it through before
putting pen to paper. Writing his response gave him both time to think and more
To Darcy, a conversation must have a purpose. He’s not the kind of
guy who’ll stand around talking about the weather, or heaven forbid, about
himself. Mrs. Reynolds says of him, “Some people call him proud, but I never
saw anything of it. To my fancy, it is only because he does not rattle away
like so many young men.” Also, like most introverts, being around people tires
him, and he needs a significant amount of time alone to recharge. Maybe that’s
why he likes the library so much!
Darcy tends to give people the impression he’s arrogant, but I
suspect at least some of that stern, serious look of his is to scare away
mothers and daughters who vie for his attention—plus anyone else he doesn’t
want to talk to. Part of his discomfort around strangers, which can come off as
aloofness or arrogance, stems from the fact it isn’t easy for him to read
people. In his conversation with Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam over the pianoforte
at Rosings, he says, “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess
of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their
tone of conversation or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see
done.” This is clearly a foreshadowing of how badly he misreads and
misunderstands Elizabeth’s opinion of him.
Darcy’s aware he can be little too serious. To balance his more somber
side, he enjoys the company of those who have the liveliness he lacks. Look at
his closest friends—his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and Charles Bingley.
Everyone considers both of them very amiable. I also think that’s why Darcy
finds Elizabeth’s bright eyes and teasing manner so irresistible. His verbal
battles with her spark something in him he’s never felt before.
When I wrote Mr. Darcy’s
Proposal, I wanted to show that as Darcy gets to know Elizabeth better, he
begins to develop a more teasing and playful side. Immediately, I thought of my
husband, who shares some of his personality traits. Like Darcy, my husband has
a dry sense of humor, and he’s very literal. For example, if I say, “Pass the
salt, please.” I might just get a handful of salt rather than the saltshaker.
When I protest, he says, “But you said salt, not the salt shaker!”
Here’s a peek at a scene from the last chapter of Mr. Darcy’s Proposal that illustrates
what I mean. It takes place when Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are alone, relaxing after a
long, tiring day of dealing with family. They are in London and begin to talk
about returning home to Pemberley.
“When we return home, I have a special present
waiting for you,” he said, breaking the silence.
“You do? What is it?” she asked, sitting forward in
“I am not sure I should say. It might be better if
you were surprised.”
“But, my love, if you did not want me to know, you
should not have mentioned it at all,” said Elizabeth, her lips forming a sweet
“Perhaps I might be convinced to tell you,” he
“You do know how relentless I can be once I make up
my mind about something.”
“Very well, I will tell you if you come here,” he
said, patting his knee.
She threw him a look, which he answered by patting
his knee again. Elizabeth sighed, knowing that the only way she would get more
information was to cooperate. Of course, sitting on his lap was really no
hardship to her. When he pulled her closer, she laid her head on his shoulder.
Darcy kissed the top of her head and then began working his way down her neck
tantalizing her with more sweet gentle kisses in all the places he knew would
increase her pleasure. Elizabeth could feel the heat building inside her.
As she began to relax, he started to pull at the
ribbons on her dressing gown. At first, her mind was occupied with the
sensations his kisses were invoking in her. Then suddenly, she realized what he
was doing and she tried to sit up.
“Wait just a moment. You promised to tell me about
my present if I came over and joined you,” she protested.
“Yes, but I did not say when I would tell you.”
As Elizabeth tried to push herself away in protest,
he held her all the more tightly to him. “You are a most infuriating man!”
Sigh! Darcy is definitely complicated, but that’s part of what
makes him so fascinating and irresistible. Our desire to know more about him
draws us in and keeps us coming back to read Pride and Prejudice over and over. I’m sure it’s also why so many
people enjoy the P&P sequels, prequels, variations, and mash-ups.
Personally, I love to write about Darcy and Elizabeth because it allows me to
spend more time with them. What could be better than that for a Darcyholic!
Thank you, Barbara, for inviting me to join you at Darcyholic
Diversions. I always love talking about Mr. Darcy! Please visit me at my
As part of Austen Authors, a group of authors who write Jane Austen-related
stories, you’ll often find me blogging at www.austenauthors.net.
Follow me on Twitter: @SusanMasonMilks