Friday, June 02, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

I just finished reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It's definitely a funny book, and Austen does a wonderful job of describing the characters in such a way that makes you feel like you know them personally. I think I chuckled out loud in each chapter. However, I'm a bit stumped as to why so many women think that Mr. Darcy is the quintessential example of what a man ought to be. In some ways, he's kind of a jerk, and while he eventually overcomes his prejudices, it's not so much because of self reflection for self reflection's sake, but because a girl he likes calls him on it. To be sure, his willingness to handle the situation with Lydia was noble, but he had the money to do it without really sacrificing much. Is it that he is so attracted to a free thinking woman? Is it his patience? Is it his willingness to be molded and scolded? I just don't understand why he's so much beloved by all of you women-folk out there. Give me a shout out and help me understand.

5 comments:

Carrie said...

I agree she did challenge him to do some self-reflecting, but I don’t know about the “molded and scolded” part. (His proposal wasn’t exactly something a girl would go running to tell her friends about.) As a result of Elizabeth’s refusal to marry him, he ended up reflecting on the ways his parents and childhood had influenced his thinking up until that point. She enabled him to see his pride and arrogance as a fault, and realizing that he had faults of his own allowed him to be able to accept other people’s faults. (I mean, he marries her, and how crazy was her family?!) She wasn’t necessarily trying to change him or to be manipulative, that was ultimately a decision he made for himself. If I remember correctly, his changing was not a condition of her love at that point. And she had to do some changing of her own, as well. She took a risk rejecting him and telling him how she really felt about him, not realizing that she would later learn the truth about him and discover that she made a mistake. And not knowing if he could forgive her prejudices.

So, the appeal? Yes, that he was willing to change, but also that this change made him more sensitive to others’ feelings, including his ability to see where she was coming from. I also think some of the appeal is their relationship. Despite his flaws and hers, they never completely give up on one another—they overcome a great deal and find happiness together. And, let’s face it; it’s all about love. I agree that it’s charming that he can love a woman who is free thinking and a bit saucy. But I mostly think the thing drawing women to Darcy is that, in and through it all, he loves Elizabeth, just as she is. And hey, who wants to read a book where the main characters don’t end up together?

Alan Bancroft said...

Hmmm...some food for thought. I see what you're saying about Elizabeth's refusal of marriage being a turning point of sorts for Darcy, but we never really hear him say that. I would have liked to see more of Darcy's point of view. Other than his letter to Elizabeth, which was kind of jerky in the beginning (which he later admits to), we don't really get the same attention to the detail of his change of heart. I wonder if he really changes all that much, or if it's Elizabeth's view of him that changes. I totally understand the "loving her for who she is" stuff, but it makes me kind of sad to think that that sets Darcy apart as some kind of super duper guy. I mean, if someone doesn't love you for who you are, regardless of your family and/or station in life, well, they suck. My main point is that Darcy doesn't come across as being overly romantic or philosophical. I guess I was kind of expecting a Wesley from Princess Bride kind of guy, and instead I got, well, Darcy.

Andy said...

I love that book too. I read it in English lit class at Auburn. Was skeptical at first but was surprised at how good and even funny it was at times.

I think the appeal of Darcy and what I found intriguing about his character is that he's the typical self-centered jerk of a guy who realizes how insensitive he is and who is willing to change.

Darcy is proof that redemption is possible.I also wonder if Darcy is also proof that we often (out of fear of being hurt, trauma and/or care we didn't receive as children or youth) put on a mask of anger, hate or self-centeredness to hide our sensititivities and true feelings.

If you watch the Pride and Prejudice movies or Bridgett Jones Diary' which is the modern version, you get the sense that Darcy is very socially awkward and has a hard time opening up from the heart so it's easier for him to be cold and mocking.

By the way, for further reflection, you should go see The Break Up with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston. It's a type of War of the Roses/Pride and Prejudice in terms of male and female characters/relationships.

a different carrie said...

hmmm i'm going to have to read it again now, it has been several years.

there was something in his character that just melded perfectly with lizzy. they were very much who they were . . . and they knew it - yet for one another they yeilded themselves from their flaws that might cause pain. it is something about that mystical vision of love we (or at least i) had impossibly complex visions of when we were young. a man who will, yes, change for you - he cares for you that much. a man that knows and both hates and admires your own imperfections. adoration that is awkward for some reason feels more pure. you are left without doubt of true feelings.
i think one of the biggest factors is that it is so easy for most gals to relate to lizzy. she has that same appeal as jo from little women. strong and bold yet feminine and unworldly. i can fall into her character in the novel and feel her passion (good and bad) toward darcy, that alone makes him gush worthy.

noell said...

you should ask amy s-m this question because mr darcy is her dream man...

that said i'm going to go with andy's bit about him being somewhat socially awkward... he's kind of bumbly... i think he's probably not had many real relationships with other folks- you know the kind where people like him just because he's him, not for his name, title, money, etc...

more than anything i think the lure of mr. darcy is how real he is. yes he's an ass, and bumbly, and has plently of issues, but he's very true, does that make any sense at all? (it has been a while since i read the book, but this is the impression i remember having)