Mr. Darcy

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Fitzwilliam Darcy
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet by C. E. Brock (1895) She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet by C. E. Brock (1895)
She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.
Full name Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Gender Male
Age 28
Income £10,000+/year
Primary residence Pemberley, near Lambton, Derbyshire
Family
Spouse Elizabeth Bennet
Romantic interest(s) Elizabeth Bennet
Parents Mr. Darcy and Lady Anne Darcy (née Fitzwilliam)
Sibling(s) Georgiana Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy, generally referred to as Mr. Darcy, is one of the two central characters in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. He is an archetype of the aloof romantic hero, and a romantic interest of Elizabeth Bennet, the novel's protagonist. The story's narration is almost exclusively from Lizzy's (Elizabeth Bennet) perspective; she is portrayed as the sympathetic figure, and Darcy hardly so until the later chapters of the novel—as knowledge and ironic events are revealed to Lizzy. Usually referred to only as "Mr. Darcy" or "Darcy" by characters and the narrator, his first name is mentioned twice in the novel.[1]

Character[edit]

Mr. Darcy by C. E. Brock, 1895

In the novel, Mr. Darcy is a wealthy gentleman with an income exceeding £10,000 a year,[2] and the proprietor of Pemberley, a large estate in Derbyshire, England. Darcy first meets Elizabeth Bennet at a ball, where he slights her by refusing to dance with her, and by making rather demeaning remarks about her while she was within earshot. Gradually he becomes attracted to her, and later attempts to court her while simultaneously struggling against his continued feelings of superiority. Ironically, Darcy disapproves when his friend Bingley develops a serious attachment to Elizabeth's elder sister Jane, and subtly persuades Bingley that Jane does not return his feelings (which he honestly believes). He later explains this seeming hypocrisy by asserting "I was kinder to [Mr. Bingley] than to myself". Although he doesn't realize it, Elizabeth's discovery of Darcy's interference in Bingley and Jane's budding relationship, and Mr. Wickham's tale of how Darcy mistreated him, has caused her to dislike him intensely.

Eventually Mr. Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth, and offers her a proposal of marriage. He reminds her of the large gap in their social status. Elizabeth is offended and vehemently refuses him, expressing her reasons for disliking him, including her knowledge of his interference with Jane and Bingley and the account she received from Mr Wickham of Darcy's alleged unfair treatment toward him. Insulted by Darcy's arrogant retorts, Elizabeth claims that the way by which he proposed to her prevented her from feeling concerns for him she "might have felt had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner". Darcy departs in anger and mortification and that night writes a letter to Elizabeth in which he defends his wounded honour, reveals the motives for his interference in Jane and Bingley's relationship, and gives a full account of his lifelong dealings with Wickham, who attempted to seduce and elope with Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana, the previous summer.

Although initially angered by Elizabeth's vehement refusal and harsh criticism, Darcy is shocked to discover the reality of how his behaviour is perceived by others, particularly Elizabeth, and commits himself to re-evaluate his actions. A few months later, Darcy unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth when she is visiting his estate in Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. Elizabeth is first embarrassed to be discovered at Pemberley, having only visited on the belief that Darcy was absent, however she is surprised to discover a marked change in Darcy's manner. Having responded to Elizabeth's criticism, Darcy is now determined to display the "gentlemanlike manner" she accused him of lacking and astonishes her with his kindness towards both her and her relations.

On discovering that Elizabeth's youngest sister Lydia, has fallen prey to and run off with Mr Wickham, Darcy tracks them down and induces Wickham to marry Lydia, thus saving both Lydia and her family from social disgrace. Darcy's intervention was done not to win Elizabeth—he attempted to keep her from knowing of his involvement—but rather to ease her distress (the narrator hints through Mr. Bennet that Darcy's intervention to help Elizabeth may have cost him as much as a year's income "Wickham's a fool if he takes [Lydia] with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds"). Darcy also felt himself partially responsible in failing to warn Elizabeth's family and the public of Wickham's true character.

His behavior contrasts sharply with that of another Jane Austen character, Mr. Crawford from Mansfield Park. Mr. Crawford attempts to obligate Fanny Price to him by securing one of her fondest hopes, a naval officer's commission for her brother, immediately before proposing to her, which commission costs Crawford essentially nothing.

Darcy then releases Mr. Bingley to return to Longbourn and woo Jane, accepting his misjudgement of her character. Accompanying his friend to Longbourn, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth again, who accepts him. The couple reflect on their mistakes made, and Darcy thanks Elizabeth for showing him the error of his ways: "by you, I was properly humbled".

Depictions in film & television[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Actor Role Film Notes
1940 Laurence Olivier Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice
2001 Colin Firth Mark Darcy Bridget Jones's Diary An adaptation of the novel Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Fielding's novel is loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV serial), and Colin Firth's portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy.
2003 Orlando Seale Will Darcy Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy A Modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
2004 Martin Henderson William "Will" Darcy Bride and Prejudice An Indian adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Colin Firth Mark Darcy Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason An adaptation of the novel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding and a sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary.
2005 Matthew Macfadyen Mr. Darcy Pride & Prejudice
TBA Sam Riley Mr. Darcy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Based on the parody novel by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Television[edit]

Year Actor Role Television program Notes
1938 Andrew Osborn Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice
1949 John Baragrey Fitzwilliam Darcy The Philco Television Playhouse Season 1, Episode 17 - "Pride and Prejudice"
1952 Peter Cushing Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice
1957 Franco Volpi Darcy Orgoglio e pregiudizio An adaptation in Italian.
1958 Alan Badel Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice
Patrick Macnee Mr. Darcy General Motors Theatre Episode - "Pride and Prejudice" (Originally aired on December 21).
1961 Ramses Shaffy Darcy De vier dochters Bennet An adaptation in Dutch.
1967 Lewis Fiander Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice
1980 David Rintoul Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice
1995 Colin Firth Fitzwilliam Darcy Pride and Prejudice The adaptation and Colin Firth's portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy inspired Helen Fielding to write Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Colin Firth portrayed the character of Mark Darcy in both film adaptations of Fielding's novels.
Soccer (voice: Larry Brantley) Wishbone as
Mr. Darcy
Wishbone Season 1, Episode 25 - "Furst Impressions"
2001 (voice: Maurice LaMarche) The Big Brain Futurama Season 3, Episode 7 -"The Day the Earth Stood Stupid"
2008 Elliot Cowan Fitzwilliam Darcy Lost in Austen A fantasy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in which a modern woman trades places with Elizabeth Bennet.
2012-2013 Daniel Gordh William Darcy The Lizzie Bennet Diaries A modern adaptation where the main character Lizzie tells the story of Pride and Prejudice through video blog format.
2013 Matthew Rhys Fitzwilliam Darcy Death Comes to Pemberley A continuation based on P.D. James' book with the same name..

Cultural influence and legacy[edit]

The character of Fitzwilliam Darcy has appeared in and inspired numerous works. Both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet feature as part of science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer's 'Wold Newton family' concept, which links numerous fictional characters (such as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes) via an interconnected family tree of people and events.[citation needed] According to Farmer's works, both were exposed to radiation from a meteorite that struck Wold Newton in Yorkshire in the 1790s (a documented event). This allowed them to be the ancestors of many other famous literary characters, some of whom possessed unusual or even superhuman gifts and abilities. Numerous re-imaginings of the original work written from the perspective of Mr. Darcy have also been published, among them American writer Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy.

Helen Fielding has admitted she "pillaged her plot"[3] for Bridget Jones's Diary from Pride and Prejudice. In Bridget Jones's Diary and its sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Bridget Jones is constantly mentioning the 1995 BBC adaptation and repeatedly watches the scene in the fourth episode where Darcy (Colin Firth) emerges from a pond wearing a wet white shirt,[4] and refers to the Darcy and Elizabeth of the TV series as "my chosen representatives in the field of shagging, or, rather, courtship".[5] When in The Edge of Reason Bridget becomes a journalist, she is flown to Italy where she is to interview Firth about his (then upcoming) film Fever Pitch, but finds herself only asking him questions about Mr. Darcy and the filming of the "pond scene".[4] This scene was shot but not included in the film adaptation of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. This scene can be seen in the DVD's extra features. Colin Firth's "pond scene" made it into Channel 4's Top 100 TV Moments.[6] Colin Firth has found it hard to shake off the Darcy image,[7] and he thought that playing Bridget Jones’s Mark Darcy, a character inspired by the other Darcy, would both ridicule and liberate him once and for all from the iconic character.[8]

Darcy's status as a romantic hero transcends literature. In 2010 a protein sex pheromone in male mouse urine, that is sexually attractive to female mice, was named Darcin in honour of the character.[9][10][11]

On 9 July 2013, a 12-foot (3.7 m) fibreglass statue of the figure of Mr. Darcy emerging from the water was installed in the Serpentine Lake of London's Hyde Park for a promotion of British television's UKTV channel.[12] Modelled on actor Colin Firth who played the role in the 1995 BBC miniseries, the statue will make the rounds of several English lakes before its final installation in Lyme Park, a location where the programme was partly filmed and already a pilgrimage site for Pride and Prejudice fans.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Pride and Prejudice. Chapters 25 and 35.
  2. ^ Pride and Prejudice. Chapter 59.
  3. ^ Penguin Reading Guides - Bridget Jones's Diary Retrieved on January 4-2008.
  4. ^ a b "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" Helen Fielding. Penguin Books, 1999. (ISBN 014303443X)
  5. ^ MTV.com - 'Pride & Prejudice': The Way They Were (Nov 23 2005) Retrieved on January 4-2008.
  6. ^ The Independent - There's no escaping Mr. Darcy (9 June 2000) Retrieved on January 4-2008.
  7. ^ BBC News - Star takes pride in new Prejudice Retrieved on January 4-2008.
  8. ^ Vanity Fair (Italy) - Me Sexy? only to that crazy Bridget Jones (Oct 16, 2003) Retrieved on January 4-2008.
  9. ^ Brennan PA (May 2010). "On the scent of sexual attraction". BMC Biol 8 (1): 71. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-71. PMC 2880966. PMID 20504292. 
  10. ^ Roberts SA, Simpson DM, Armstrong SD, et al. (June 2010). "Darcin: a male pheromone that stimulates female memory and sexual attraction to an individual male's odour". BMC Biol 8 (1): 75. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-75. PMC 2890510. PMID 20525243. 
  11. ^ Moskowitz, C (3 June 2010). "Biologists Learn Why Mice Go Gaga for Urine". FoxNews.com. FOX News Network. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  12. ^ Lyall, Sarah (9 July 2013). "Pride, Prejudice, Promotion? Mr. Darcy Rising". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2013.