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Thursday, July 24

Have YOU Placed Mr. Darcy on a Pedestal?


Is Jane Austen’s character Mr. Darcy the most alluring and lusted after male romantic archetype in literary history? Maybe. There is certainly plenty of evidence to support it. We see his name bantered about in all sorts of references and used as an example of the ultimate male romantic hero. There are not many Janeites out there who would not understand the pop reference to ‘wet shirt Darcy'. Just Google “Mr. Darcy”, and 906, 000 hits appear! Now that’s Austen power!



Recently I read an amusing article entitled Beating Darcy Down where blogger Alisa Harris thinks that Darcy’s admirers have taken it to an extreme and placed him on a pedestal. It made me laugh, but also think about what Mr. Darcy has become to his public, (yes, he has a public), and how each of us who admire his brooding charms perceive him differently - often times conveniently forgetting his faults altogether. Yes, he does have faults, even if Caroline Bingley thinks not, “He has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.”




The public’s interest in the character of Mr. Darcy can certainly be measured by how many books have been published recently containing his name. I count over 20, and please correct me if I am wrong. It’s a Darcy epidemic. Next week we will have another Mr. Darcy book to consume entitled Seducing Mr. Darcy. Hurrah! Every author seems to have their own interpretation. Darcy is a cad to the bone, Darcy is a complete gentleman, Darcy is pious saint, Darcy is a scoundrel and a rogue, Darcy does Dallas. Oops. Typo. Sorry!




I just finished reading Maya Slater’s new book Mr. Darcy’s Diary. In a field of many Darcy reading options, I was drawn to it because of the positive reviews it received when it was released last fall in the UK, but criticism online based on the storyline description in the review. Being the inquisitive type, I wanted to draw my own conclusions. You can read my full review at my other blog, Austenprose. It may, or may not suit your fancy, but I liked it!



CONTEST: So, gentle Austen readers. Who is your personal Darcy? Is the character set in stone, or are you flexible with his life outside of his actions in Pride and Prejudice? Is Darcy a true Regency man who does manly things like drink and play cards and tumble the housemaid, or is he totally pious and saves his virginity for the marriage bed? Inquiring minds would like to know. Leave a comment and share your Darcy thoughts between July 23rd and August 31st, and you will be eligible in a drawing for a free copy of Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Maya Slater. The winner will be announced on August 1st. Learn for yourself what all the controversy is about!

Posted by Laurel Ann, Austenprose

15 comments:

Nicole said...

I have absolutely put Darcy on a pedestal. The Darcy of my imagining is full of dignity. He is everything Colin Firth portrayed him to be. Quietly observant, he has an inner softness that is only seen to Elizabeth. He is highly intelligent, and thinks that men who cheat on their wives with the scullery maid are scoundrels. He would never betray his "dearest, loveliest Elizabeth." He has his faults, as all men do. He is still a little proud. He does frustrate Elizabeth on occasion because he does not always approve of her choice in friends. Still, he is polite to them for her sake. He is as near to perfect as any man can be.

Aranel said...

Though it's become cliche, Mr. Darcy is on the pedestal for me as well. His character in Austen's novel is what attracted me at first. Seeing Colin Firth play him just added much more. Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy is perfection, so I'm flexible with him outside of the novel. Mr. Darcy is brooding, intellectual, proud, pious, kind, handsome, genuine ...

nigel said...

Perhaps my comments are androcentric but if Darcy is so wonderful as a romantic ideal why is his female counterpart, Elizabeth Bennet, not adored by male readers to the same extent?

Anonymous said...

Maybe because female's ideals are different from men's?
This is the nr. 1 of Amazon's "Bestseller in Magazines-Men's Interest":
http://www.amazon.com/Maxim-1-year/dp/B00005NIPP/ref=pd_ts_mag_1?ie=UTF8&s=magazines
Loredana

luthien-84 said...

Well, as for me Mr. Darcy, I have already put Mr Darcy on a pedestal. In real life, I have never met a man who has the perfect qualities that Darcy embodies which is to love Elizabeth Bennet deeply and change his personalities and attitude in order to regain her love.

Angela said...

In my mind, Darcy is most definitely pious - I can't imagine him "tumbling the housemaid." Especially since he remarked that Elizabeth looked "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me." So who would be "handsome" enough for Darcy to mess around with?

However, I haven't placed Darcy on a pedestal since I can clearly see that he has faults. With Knightley on the other hand... I just think he's perfect!

Rebecca said...

The perfect Mr. Darcy for me will forever and always be the one portrayed by Colin Firth. Yes, a pedestal is where he will forever be and that's probably why Darcy outside of P & P would be very much the same. He would still be infuriated by Mrs. Bennett( Who wouldn't?) but he would gradually learn a more subtle way to handle his new Mother- In- Law. He could never betray the woman he truly loves(Elizabeth) with another. I doubt he was inexperienced( pre-Elizabeth B) but he would have never been the sort to kiss and tell..He would be far too honorable for such "commoness". I also doubt that he would want to bring any sort of scandal to his family name. ...I had never read Jane Austen until I saw that wonderful version of 'Pride and Prejudice', and I have been an Austen fan ever since. Firth's portrayal of this complex creature peeked my interest in discovering Austen's character sketch of him. He is truly proud but quite noble and honorable as well.

foodiedani said...

Mr. Darcy is quite perfect in my humble opinion! I will agree with what aranel said, how seeing Colin Firth play him just added much more...

Dina said...

Mr. Darcy would be the perfect man to be fall in love with. I enjoyed Colin Firth, but Matthew MacFadyen is the true Mr. Darcy for me. :)

goalmom said...

I think part of the reason he is up on that pedestal is because no real life person could ever measure up. The fun comes in dreaming and romanticizing of actually coming across a Mr. Darcy. I'd like to believe that he is pious, faithful, and everything else that came across in Colin Firth's portrayal.

Tiaj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laura said...

I'm pretty sure I've put Mr. Darcy on a pedestal at some point or other. I like to think, though, that I love him completely, so with his failings.
To me, Mr. Darcy is the man of my dreams. (well one of them. Oh Mr. Tilney? Never mind.) Anyways, to me, Darcy is exactly what he's portrayed to be - arrogant, prideful, etc... but only on the outside. I feel like he only shows himself to Elizabeth. (lucky her.) I also don't think he'd ever cheat on her, or gamble beyond extents. He is a perfect gentleman once you get to know him :). (Again, lucky Lizzie).

Sylwia said...

While I don't think that Darcy was a virgin, I think it's silly to make him a common rake. It's not true that every man must have been like this when in his male world, and the majority wasn't. Byron was an exception to the rule rather than a typical Regency man.

Darcy was considerate towards women and careful about his behaviour. We know that he drank and played cards, but he did it with restraint. We know that he avoided follies that might have exposed him to ridicule, and we know how harshly he judged Wickham’s misbehaviour. I can't imagine him "tumbling the housemaid" just as I don't think it's normal for a CEO to tumble his secretary. If that was Darcy's attitude to women he'd be much more forward with Elizabeth at the beginning, when he thought there was nothing more than sexual attraction on his part. I can imagine Colonel Fitzwilliam behaving like that. His treatment of Lizzy is pretty shabby, but all Darcy did was exactly the opposite.

While I enjoy reading stories that explore Darcy’s view, I like when it’s done by studying the novel, and not by applying common archetypes to Darcy. He had his faults, just as all of Austen's characters did, but they were not extreme. Austen gives us intelligent characters, not caricatures. Reformed rakes are pretty boring to read about. There are so many of them!

aks said...

I am possible a bit late here in posting my thought on the Darcy subject !

I do not think we shall put Darcy on a pedistal he clearly has his faults in Pride and Prejudice too.
I do not think he was a saint but he was absolutely not a rake like Wickham. According to his housekkeper he did not "rattle around like other young men" So I think he behaved better than many young men of his class.
On the other hand I do not think him totally innocent when it comes to women. But I do not think he "tumbled the housemaids (especially not in his friends house)" or visited brothels regularly. But I think i tis possible that he may have slept with a sevant girl or courtesan or visited a brothel some (or a few times,maybe regretting it later) during his life before he met Elisabeth Bennet.
I personally think part of his disdain for mr Wickham may come from that Wickham has made him or temted him to do something he regretted later.
there is a wide range of human behaviour betwean being totally innocent and being a rake

karen said...

What I like most about Mr Darcy is that he DOES have faults and it is oh so sexy that he is man enough to work on them in order to be with that dearest, loveliest, Elizabeth.