Advice for an Introvert in Fiction

Darcy proposing to Elizabeth, by Hugh Thomson. {PD}

Darcy proposing to Elizabeth, by Hugh Thomson. {PD}

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “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.”

“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault — because I would not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”

 – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 I did one of those “What Jane Austen Character Are You?” quizzes the other day, and my answer was that I was Elizabeth. Which made me laugh, because I am far more like Mr. Darcy than Elizabeth. Not in the handsome and rich sense, of course – more in the “I don’t always know what to say in social situations” sense. As I wrote about before, that’s part of what makes him such a good romantic protagonist for Pride and Prejudice. I love Elizabeth, and would certainly love to be as witty as her, but my clever remarks tend to occur to me long after the conversation is done. Especially if it’s a conversation with someone I’d like to impress, of course.

But this quote is a good one in another way too. As an introvert, it’s easy just to say, “This is the way I am,” and give up on people. To excuse yourself from making the effort to talk to people you don’t know. To just stare at the floor and back away from all the people, and not even think there might be other people in the room who feel just as awkward as you. I’m not saying every introvert should try to act more like an extrovert, not at all. I know how excruciating that can feel. But to practice – well, I really do get better at socializing the more I socialize. Sometimes I need to break out of my inward-focused bubble and think about other people more. And refusing to always use introversion as an excuse is a good first step in that.

So is advice that’s good enough for Mr. Darcy good enough for me? Why, yes, it is – thank you, Elizabeth!



Filed under Jane Austen, Quotables

4 responses to “Advice for an Introvert in Fiction

  1. Alexia

    I took one of those tests once and it said that I was most like Catherine from Northanger Abbey – which, nooo. Catherine is my least favorite Austen character 😦


    • Well, Henry Tilney was one of my favourite Jane Austen men, so for that reason I wouldn’t mind being Catherine 🙂


      • Alexia

        I think my favorite Jane Austen man is Mr. Knightley… Although I’ve re-read Emma not too long ago so that might be why 🙂

        This is completely off-topic, but have I ever mentioned the Maisie Dobbs book series by Jacqueline Winspear to you ? I think you’d like it, it’s set in London in the early 30s, and everyone is still recovering from the war, not to mention the 1929 crisis. The main character, Maisie Dobbs, was a nurse during the war and she’s now a private investigator and psychologist. The books are really interesting because there’s an intellectual level to her investigations, she’s not just running around trying to solve a crime. I don’t know, I think you’d like these books so that’s why I’m bringing them up now before I forget.


      • Mr. Knightley is great too. I liked Henry Tilney because he got a nice long defense of novels speech, and a couple snarky remarks here and there. 🙂
        No, you haven’t mentioned the Maisie Dobbs series before, but it does sound like something I’d like. I do like books set in that time period. 🙂


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