Sunday, 7 June 2009

Mr Darcy

Mr Darcy
Mr Darcy is one of the most compelling, if not the most compelling, character in fiction. I, as well as a lot of other people, find it hard to stop writing about him and I’ve been wondering why he is so endlessly fascinating.

He’s rich.
Well, yes, but he’s not the richest character in Jane Austen’s novels. Mr Rushworth from Mansfield Park is richer, but no one finds him fascinating, not even his fiancĂ©e.

He’s been in a couple of movies and a notable TV mini series.
True. But other heroes have been brought to the screen without arousing such fervour. There have been several films of Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jane Eyre, to name but a few, but they haven’t put Heathcliff, Sir Percy Blakeney and Rochester into the same league as Darcy.

He wore a wet shirt (well, he did in the TV series).
Yes, he did, but other men have worn wet shirts or no shirts onscreen and their characters haven’t become part of a global phenomenon.

He was played by Colin Firth.
Except Colin Firth was already an established actor when he played Darcy and has gone on to play many other roles since, none of which can compare with the popularity of his Darcy.

So there is more than wealth, looks, screen adaptations, wet shirts and Colin Firth at work. All of those things help, but ultimately it’s Darcy the character who attracts us. Is it his arrogance? Is it his ability to learn and grow? Is it the fact that he can admit when he’s wrong? Is it the fact he has an overwhelming love for Elizabeth? I think it’s all these things, and something extra as well. Darcy is more than a sum of his parts, there’s an extra special spark in him which makes him uniquely compelling, for which we have to thank Jane Austen.

Amanda Grange

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