“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Today is the official birthday of Pride and Prejudice. I’m going to post twice about this book this week. Today I am joining in with Alyssa Goodnite and Stilleto Storytime for the Pride and Prejudice Anniversary Blog Hop.
For those of you who enjoy the incredible array of Austen prequels, spin-offs and retelling’s, you might know Alyssa’s name. Austentatious is not a retelling or a continuation, but an homage. I have not read this book – but it’s got some great reviews. It’s got romance and some fantasy, it involves a magic journal…. pretty much right up my alley. I will be checking it out. Her follow up, Austensibly Ordinary, is being released tomorrow. It’s got the same magical journal, but it looks like this one has the shades of Pemberley about it. I’ve entered the Goodreads giveaway, and so can you. Here it is: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/41649-austensibly-ordinary
The point of the blog hop is to celebrate Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: to write about your first time reading it, seeing it on screen, maybe talk about your favorite Darcy portrayal. I am so in love with Jane, I am doing this blog hope and the year long Bicentenary Challenge for 2013, so I’ll be reviewing the book and the 2005 movie later. So for this post, I’m going to talk about my favorite part about reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time.
In short: the proposal. Almost all of Jane’s books rotate around the hope, fear, or expectation of the proposal. The proposal between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth is a bit of a dream. We, as readers, hope for it. We know that Darcy admires Lizzy. We know how deserving she is of a large income and a fabulous house. However, the first time I read the book, I never saw it coming. I thought for sure Darcy was going to try and overcome his “unfortunate” admiration for our Lizzy. But then he has the bad taste to mention this in his proposal.
Really, Mr. Darcy? Are you so blinded by your own consequence? Let me answer that for him. Yes. I mean the guy is loaded. He’s got Pemberley, the house is Grosvenor Square, and ten thousand a year. He’s a romantic literary figure, but let me warn you, modern gentlemen, don’t take cues from his first address. So much of being a romantic literary figure is, as the English say, seriously cocking things up. After the beautiful and unexpected beginning, this happens:
He spoke well: but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride.
His sense of her inferiority – of its being a degradation – of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavors, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favorable answer. He SPOKE of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security.
No. Just no. You don’t tell the object of your affection, the bright woman with such fine eyes that her family in Cheapside (not to mention that overbearing mother and ridiculous sisters, which he did have the good sense to leave out), are an embarrassment and that despite this you are still laying yourself at her feet, please and thank you, what pudding should we serve at Christmas?
Well, Lizzy’s not having it. She tells him where to put his proposal, in the feminine and gentle terms of the times. She does it with enough heat that Mr. Darcy demands an explanation. I love her answer.
I might as well inquire…why with so evident a desire of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for uncivility, if I WAS uncivil? But I have other provocations. You know I have. Had not my feelings decided against you – had they been indifferent, or had they even been favorable, do you think that any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?
She’s got you there, Darcy. She found out that it was Darcy who encouraged his friend, Mr. Bingley, to remove himself from the area upon realizing he was falling in love with Jane, Elizabeth’s sister. Darcy claims it was because he saw no signs of love in Jane’s behavior.
Now, I think a modern man, having been bitch-slapped thusly would backpeddle, grow red, or try and explain himself. I guess Darcy figured he hadn’t shoved his hand-made Italian shoe far enough down his throat, because not only does he admit it, he tells her that “I rejoice in my success. Towards HIM (Mr. Bingley) I have been kinder than towards myself.”
The first time I read the book, I didn’t see how Darcy was going to redeem himself. Pride is one thing, Willful pride is another. If you can tell the woman you love that you wrecked her sister’s chance of happiness and security, and still be proud of your actions, you are either very short-sighted, or very loyal.
I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone (ahem, I mean, really? Why would you be here if you didn’t have whole passages of this book memorized?) but it turns out Darcy is loyal and a damn fine man. He goes above and beyond for Lizzy and her infernal family. In a Jane biopic, a character quips that Lizzy doesn’t fall in love with Darcy until she sees the size of his house. I strongly disagree.
He shows her the size of his heart.
And the second proposal is leaps and bounds better than the first.