Why Some Girls Like Mr. Darcy

Mr Darcy {{PD-US}}

Maybe this post should actually be called ‘why I like Mr. Darcy,’ but I flatter myself these reasons might be shared by other females.

Mr. Darcy gets a lot of flak from guys. He’s just some woman’s imagination of the perfect guy, no real guy acts like that, women in general should just grow up and settle for reality (etc., etc.) And, well, some reasons for liking him are a little flimsy. He’s good-looking? Well, he’s a literary character, so you get to imagine him as good-looking as you like (and while the novel does describe him as handsome, the bad boy of the book, Wickham, is called more handsome). You could point out he’s rich, or that he’s well-mannered, but run the risk of being called mercenary, or looking like you want every guy to throw his coat over a puddle for you. No, there’s several very good reasons for enjoying Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and I shall list them below.

He’s Bad at Talking to People

When I first read Pride and Prejudice, I really had no idea what it was about or what exactly was going to happen, but this part is what first gave me some fellow feeling for Mr. Darcy in the novel. Elizabeth is teasing him for being so quiet at the dance she first met him at (she accuses him of pride, which was partly the reason.) And he replies, “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.”

Oh, Mr. Darcy, you too? A man described as handsome and rich, who still fumbles around in conversations with strangers? Well, then, I feel a bit better at possessing this flaw myself. If you can’t think of anything to talk about, why should someone so much less interesting as myself, ever be good at it? You don’t know how many times I’ve stood across from someone for many long, awkward minutes, with my mind going a mile a minute and still not having a word to say. While everyone around me can strike up a conversation without any effort at all.

I’m afraid I come off rude sometimes too, without meaning to be. Hopefully I don’t come off as proud. That’s what everyone Elizabeth knows first thinks of Darcy.

Yes, Jane Austen gave me something to relate to in her hero, and this is one big reason I can get on board with the whole Pride and Prejudice fan bandwagon.

He Actually Makes a Move

Mr. Darcy does not wait around ninety percent of the book, too scared to find out what the heroine thinks of him (which too many romance novels do). Jane Austen is not fumbling around for some device to drag out her plot, and does not decide to make him get this close to saying something to Elizabeth, before being frustratingly interrupted. No, he actually gets up and walks over to where Elizabeth is staying, and asks her to marry him. (Okay, it’s be a bit strange if a guy who liked you just straight-up proposed to you nowadays, but at least Elizabeth isn’t in the dark about how he feels). And – take note of this, guys – he does get brutally shot down. But at least he took the risk. And the plot moves on!

When females try to explain to males what Mr. Darcy’s attraction is, they don’t often explain this, but I think it plays a role. None of this ‘secret admirer for years’ stuff. He’ll actually tell you to your face how he’s feeling.

He’s Flawed

This might be a point for the writer in me, but I love how Mr. Darcy is not a perfect paragon of virtue, and it is his very flaws that separate him from Elizabeth for most of the novel. They always tell writers that heroes that are too perfect are boring to read about. Yet, for some reason, romance novels still keep pulling out endlessly romantic and caring dudes with rippling abs. Even when the heroine gives the guy ample reason to throw in the towel! But no, this guy is sincere and loves the girl for who she is… blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, this point directly contradicts the charge that Mr. Darcy is “too unrealistic.” I’ll admit finding a good-looking, virtuous guy who also happens to be rich is stretching things a little far, but the fact he has flaws makes him more believable. He can’t quite take a joke, not even by the end of the novel. And he is proud. He tones it down a bit by the end, but he has pride in spades. This gets toned down a bit in the movie adaptions, I think (at least in the Keira Knightley one), but for a long time he was not ashamed at all for breaking up Jane and Bingley because he really thought Jane was beneath Bingley. He actually, while proposing to Elizabeth, spends a long chunk of time describing how he’s lowering himself to do so (you wonder why she shot him down, huh?) In his letter to her, he still insists he did right by Bingley. And by the end, he still can’t quite take all of Elizabeth’s teasing, as I mentioned before.

At least he’s consistent. “Love” doesn’t turn him into the opposite of everything he’d been throughout the book before – unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen in too many novels before too.

Anyway, there’s my two cents on that. Are there any more reasons you can add?

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11 Comments

Filed under Jane Austen, True Romance

11 responses to “Why Some Girls Like Mr. Darcy

  1. I really like this post!…and I also love Mr. Darcy 🙂

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  2. Alexia

    Oh yeah, that marriage proposal was quite the disaster wasn’t it ? Your article is very interesting. Truth is Darcy’s name somehow became attached to the idea of a perfect love interest. When people tell me that he’s too “guimauve” (arf, I don’t know how to translate that… the litteral translation would be marshmallow but that wouldn’t make much sense would it ? It basically means that he’s a character from one of those sentimental novels Danielle Steel could write – no offense to Danielle Steel, I just needed an example) I always feel like saying “Uh, excuse me ? Are you sure we read the same book ?” I don’t know where that idea that Darcy is a love-sick puppy came from. I guess from the same weird place where Heathcliff is every girl’s dream 🙂

    Anyway, I kinda feel like reading the book all over again now. Dammit. (You just won’t let me work, will you :p ?)

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    • Yes, I often wonder if people have been reading the same book as me. Possibly people just project their idea of the perfect romantic partner on whatever character they happen to be reading about at the time? Or possibly the movies gloss over some of Darcy’s faults a bit. I don’t see Heathcliff as every girl’s dream either 🙂

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  3. Alexia

    I don’t know, maybe… I haven’t seen that Keira Knightley movie so I can’t say for that one. I like BBC’s Pride and Prejudice from 1995, with Colin Firth as Darcy, ever seen that one ?
    About Heathcliff, maybe it comes from the movies as well. Never seen one yet…

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  7. Janet

    I bet the same men who criticize Mr Darcy for being “unrealistic” won’t go for a woman who is as aloof as he is. That’s not to say he had it easy but sexism is one less obstacle for him to overcome. Women who are come off as rude get written off as a bitch. While some men enjoy the thrill of the chase, I don’t think they can imagine themselves doing the same hard work as Lizzy in pealing away the layers of a love interest. There are so many articles on why women like Mr Darcy but female characters who are similar don’t get the same praise. Before anyone labels me as anti-male, I can’t see gay women digging away the arrogant facade to find the heart of gold either.

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    • Interesting – I wonder if anyone has written a plot where the man is fulfilling the role Elizabeth does in Pride and Prejudice?

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      • Janet

        The only man I know of in the Elizabeth role is Trip from Star Trek. He’s an emotional human in love with T’Pol, a Vulcan. She has her fanboys but they don’t swoon over her to the same degree as fangirls do over Mr Darcy.

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