I am an avid reader; bookworm, if you would prefer. I remember when I started reading books for enjoyment. I was in first grade and my books of choice at the time were Barbie chapter books. It just snowballed from there. I steadily read more and more advanced books. I quickly left the majority of my classmates behind, reading at levels that were higher than my grade. I carried a book with me everywhere. I often finished a book a day to my mother’s frustration. She struggled to keep up with my demand.
When I was twelve years old, I realized that I was little different from my friends. They thought it was weird when I started crying because one of my character’s died. They had never even heard of “Great Expectations”. They did not check out books from the school library anymore. They did not read anything that was not required as a part of the curriculum. However, I have never been the type of person that felt the need to be “normal” so my addiction to reading has continued to this day.
Anyone who is a bookworm knows that occasionally we fall in love with a character. I do not mean like in an “I really like how well that character was constructed” way. No, I mean that we forget that the character is a work of the author’s imagination. We trick ourselves into believing, at least for a while, that the character is a real person. We fall in love with a fictional character. Sometimes that love subsides quickly once the book is finished and we have to return to reality. Other times, it sticks with us longer.
My favorite classical novel is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. I am in love with Mr. Darcy. I have been for years. For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, Elizabeth Bennet, first encounters Mr. Darcy at a ball. He hurts her feelings by inadvertently offending her. Elizabeth quickly decides that he is a pretentious man and she wants nothing to do with him. Their paths continue to cross. Mr. Darcy is from a higher social class and continues to accidentally insult Elizabeth. He has fallen in love with her but cannot seem to find a way to communicate it to her without worsening the situation. Secretly, he attempts to protect Elizabeth’s younger sister from a relationship with a sketchy man. When his attempts to interfere are discovered, Elizabeth is enraged. Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, reminding her of his comfortable financial status and social class. His intentions were meant to reassure her about her future with him. Instead she views the comment as deeming and refuses his offer of marriage. Mr. Darcy is shocked by her implication. As time passes, Mr. Darcy realizes that his words and actions do not always come across the way he intends. He sets out to be the man who Elizabeth desires in a partner. During this time, Elizabeth’s younger sister runs away with the man that Mr. Darcy disliked. Mr. Darcy feels guilty that he failed to prevent the relationship from proceeding. To protect Elizabeth’s sister and family from great scandal, Mr. Darcy chased down the man and insisted that he marry her sister. Mr. Darcy convinces the man by providing him with a small fortune. He did this quietly, without anyone’s knowledge. When Elizabeth discovers what he has done to save her family from disgrace, she realizes that she allowed her prejudice to stand in the way of love. Mr. Darcy once again proposes and this time Elizabeth accepts.
I am sure my summary does not do it justice. If you do not want to read it but would still like to learn more, I recommend watching the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. It is not often that I recommend a movie adaptation but I happen to love this one. It stays pretty accurate with the novel. The actors do a great job at portraying my beloved characters.
Mr. Darcy reminds me of myself in some aspects. He struggles so much to speak with Elizabeth. There is a significant barrier between them. I do not believe that it is caused by being in different socioeconomic groups. He just has difficulty communicating in any social setting because of who he is as person. His closest friends have become accustomed to him and overlook it. As someone with a very logical, rational personality type, I sometimes have to choose my words carefully. While my intentions are good, my words may not be received that way. I can be blunt and matter-of-fact. I have even been accused of talking down to others when I would never do that intentionally. I just process things differently than many people around me.
I adore that Mr. Darcy loves Elizabeth for who she is. She is not perfect. She holds grudges. She speaks her mind often and is very opinionated. For the time period, this would have been frowned on. She does not have any “ladylike talents” such as drawing or singing. Instead, she prefers reading and learning new things. She would have been seen as a less than ideal wife at that time.
I also love that their story is not perfect. Life is not perfect. Real love is not magical. Misunderstandings and confusion happens. It requires work from both involved parties. Despite Elizabeth’s refusal, Mr. Darcy refused to give up on her. When he reflected and saw that he need to work on himself, he took a step back and did that. Ultimately, Elizabeth also had to admit her error and give up her first impression of Mr. Darcy. It required effort and compromise from both parties.
So now that I have admitted that I am in love with a fictional character from the 1800’s, I would like to welcome Mr. Darcy to the Hall of Hunks. You will always have a special place in my heart, Mr. Darcy.