The Mr. Darcy Conundrum
We live in the 21st century. Women are independent, successful, hard-working, contributing members of the society. So why do we still swoon over a 19th century literary character? I present to all – The Mr. Darcy Conundrum
In 1813, Ms Jane Austen bestowed upon the world her literary masterpiece – Pride & Prejudice – and along with it introduced us to the enigmatic character of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. At the age of eight, I was enthralled by him, as my sister used to read the book out to me, before I drifted off to slumber land. My dreams were sweetened further when I became obsessed by the book, and in particular, Mr. Darcy at the age of 13. I now have developed a more mature sense of attraction for him – as a young adult. It’s time to jump in the deep end of the pool and discover the reasons why we love to love and lust Mr. Darcy.
The Obvious: Let’s tick off the obvious from the list. He is tall, dark and handsome with big brains and a big bank account. Add intelligence to that mix and Mr. Darcy is already a swoon-worthy character.
The Powerful Male: Women love being independent, but at the same time, they crave dominance of some kind, from time to time. Power, in a man, can be aphrodisiac for women. Mr. Darcy is a perfect candidate for this. He is a steely image of a man – strong, silent and self-assured – which should not be confused for his arrogance, which eventually was chipped away. He proposed to Elizabeth with a lot of conviction and authority and was humbled by her refusal and her outburst. Nevertheless, his powerful words left her shaken, angered, flustered and possibly aroused, in spite of her familial woes. Power in a man attracts us, and Mr. Darcy is a powerful man of both wealth and personality.
Love-Hate-Love: We all like good boys, but don’t we all love the bad boys? The first impression of Mr. Darcy is that of a wealthy proud insufferable young man who insults our heroine – who in turn spiritedly rebuffs him later on. Thus the dance of denial begins, with both parties not admitting to their true feelings. Mr. Darcy is not a tragic bad boy (Hello, Heathcliff). His bad boy characteristic is his pride, which when clashed with Elizabeth’s flaw of prejudice creates an explosive war of words and actions simmering with sexual tension. Passion and temper flare together when it comes to this flammable couple.
“But, I can change him”: Elizabeth might have abhorred the idea of starting any relationship with Darcy at first, but we readers were rooting for both of them from the start. Even if she didn’t think – “I can change him and his erring ways” – we certainly did. It is a common enough thing for people to try and change their partners; just add a few more strokes to a perfect picture to make it into a masterpiece. In spite of Mr. Darcy being completely eligible, what attracted us to him even more was the fact that his proud ways could be changed by Elizabeth, which she did. Not all of us, however, can achieve this in real life and thus it unfortunately (or fortunately) remains in the realm of fantasy.
The Proposal Scene – The BBC edition
The Unattainable Factor: We all fancy Mr. Darcy, but what we love even more is that a man of his stature, caliber and basic over all awesomeness falls for a common woman. Yes, Elizabeth is smart and sensible, but she is not a great beauty nor does she come for a rich family. Mr. Darcy, the most sought after man in the marriage market, chooses a woman below his stature. The dreamboat falling in love with the average woman holds universal appeal for all women. It gives us all hope – that if we all aspire to be strong independent women –then perhaps, just perhaps, the man of our dreams would appear and whisk us away for the perfect ending we all want and deserve. It’s a nice fantasy to live in on rainy Sunday afternoons.
[The Colin Firth element: I hate to add this, but damn you Colin Firth! I love you; you are Mr. Darcy forever. If I ever bump into you, you will be referred to as Mr. Darcy. I might even jump on you. You have been warned.]