There’s this notion floating around that Fitzwilliam Darcy is a fantasy, a real Prince Charming. I find that interesting.
Like many a woman, I love Mr. Darcy dearly. He is one of my all-time favorite fictional guys, and I don’t blame Lizzy for falling for him. He’s intelligent, honorable, loyal and has a sense of humor, even if he often hides it. And he loves Elizabeth Bennet with every ounce of his being.
But much of Mr. Darcy’s appeal for me lies largely in the fact that he is not a fantasy. Yes, he’s tall, handsome and worth a fortune, but that is not why Lizzy falls in love with him. In demeanor, personality and social skills (or more accurately, lack of social skills), he’s a very real guy with plenty of flaws. You just know that Jane Austen knew more than a couple of men like that. We all know guys like that: good, loyal men who bottle up their emotions and who couldn’t make small talk if their lives depended on it.
Mr. Darcy is aloof, arrogant and exceptionally rude the first time Elizabeth meets him. He represses his emotions to the point that Lizzy is shocked to hear that he is in love with her. His idea of a marriage proposal is to belittle his would-be fiancee’s family, explain just how low he’s stooping in marrying her, and then act surprised that she feels insulted by his honesty. Way to go, Darcy.
You would never want to ask Darcy, “Does my butt look fat in these jeans?” He would tell you.
Although Austen tells us that Mr. and Mrs. Darcy go on to enjoy a happy marriage, you can bet there are plenty of times Mr. Darcy annoys Mrs. Darcy. Every time they go to a dance, for instance, and he insists on standing in a corner staring at everyone.
On the other hand, he is loyal, honest, and reliable. As my friend Barbara says, “Darcy does not cut and run at the first sign of a problem. And he takes charge of a bad situation.” It is his willingness to be there for her, through better or worse, that finally seals Lizzy’s love for him. But that’s no fantasy—there are plenty of real-life guys like that.
But what really makes Lizzy begin to fall for him is the improvement in his manners after she yells at him.
Come to think of it, maybe he is a fantasy.