The Darcy Factor

Hi Bandits and Bandita Buddies! Today I thought I’d talk about one of my fave historical heroes. He might be over 200 years old, but we all still sigh over Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s immortal Pride and Prejudice.

Last year, I was fascinated (and amused) when a 12-foot statue of Darcy, including nipples under his wet shirt, in his Colin Firth incarnation was placed in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, bang in the middle of London:

p and pNot bad publicity for an old guy. They don’t even do that for the latest pop star! You wonder how many current romantic heroes will pack the same punch in 2215.

As someone who writes romance (and hopefully compelling heroes) for a living, I find the world’s crush on Darcy fascinating. I wonder what he’s got that places him so high in the feminine pantheon of wonderful blokes.

I think part of it is the eternal attraction of the cool boy. Darcy’s richer than anyone else in the story, except maybe the fearsome Lady Catherine de Bourgh. And it would be a brave person who had a crush on her!

Darcy’s handsome. He has a sophisticated sense of humour. He’s impressively clever. Among the many things I love about his exchanges with Elizabeth is that those two are clearly the smartest people in the room. Even while they’re fighting fate, it’s obvious that they’re made for each other.

p and p 4Another part of his attraction is that he’s so articulate. There’s something about that historical language when it’s used to persuade and seduce that turns me to mush. How about his first, disastrous proposal to Lizzie that starts out with, “In vain have I 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”? Wow!

Another heroic aspect of Darcy is that he’s willing to put himself on the line for the sake of the woman he loves. And without any expectation of reward. When he rescues Lydia from the disaster she’s got herself into with the vile Wickham, you know how it chafes at his pride to deal with his enemy. Yet, for Elizabeth’s sake, he does. Not only that, he succeeds – there’s a lot to be said for a competent hero!

We also admire that he sees beyond rank and fortune to Lizzie’s true value. We all love a Cinderella story, and Prince Charming in this particular one comes with the magnificent Pemberley as his palace.

Darcy’s generous enough to see the error of his ways by the end. We adore a self-aware hero who admits to the heroine where he went wrong. And there’s the delicious enjoyment of watching the journey as he struggles with painful change before he reaches his happy ending.

p and p 2So all round when people start talking literary heroes, I do a time slip and go back to the Regency when men wore coats, neck cloths, breeches and boots, and spoke in perfect sentences. Long Live Mr. Darcy! 201 and still going strong!

So what about you? Are you a Darcy girl? Who’s your favourite book hero, historical or contemporary? Do you think the old guys have something going for them that the current crop of whippersnappers don’t? Do you think any of today’s heroes have what it takes to last 200 years as worthy subjects of a literary crush?

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Comments

40 Comments

  • Fabulous post, Anna! I dream of Darcy. 🙂 Must say he’s looking terrific at 201. I think he’ll always be swoon-worthy for those qualities you mentioned.

  • Jane says:

    Hello Anna,
    I am a Darcy girl, but my favorite literary hero is Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. He’s quirky and arrogant, but I admire his intelligence and he usually is the smartest one in the room. It’ll be interesting to see if any or which of today’s heroes have the same staying power.

    • Jane, I love the Poirot TV series. I need to read the books. I think David Suchet plays that part so beautifully – there’s a risk of him coming across as a caricature but he doesn’t at all when DS is in the driving seat. As you say, be interesting to see who has staying power!

  • J St George says:

    Hi Anna, yes I’m a Darcy girl. I’ve watched the BBC adaptation of P&P so many times the discs are about the fall to pieces. What’s great is that I’ve also turned my daughter into a Darcy fan, so now can rename my P&P obsession as quality mother/daughter time!!

    • Jen, how lovely about your daughter. My mum and I had major crushes on Darcy on all his forms – even Laurence Olivier in the old movie with Greer Garson.

  • Vanessa, the GR is obviously stopping in with you in the hope of snatching an early copy of your soon-to-be-released book !

    I am definitely a Darcy-girl !! LOVE that man in all of his incarnations. And while I like Colin Firth in the BBC version, my favorite is Matthew MacFadyen. SWOON !

    Darcy really is the epitome of a hero. Arrogant, rich, elegant, wounded, fighting his own demons and willing to do anything for the woman he loves.

    Today’s young men simply do not have a clue. Most of them don’t have a job, let alone a clue!

    • Ha ha, Louisa. The crack about the job made me laugh! Yeah, Darcy would not approve of people who can’t pull their pants up! I think that’s a wonderful description of how lovely he is – I really think he’s so heroic. And I love the character arc in the story. Sigh.

  • Mary Preston says:

    Darcy certainly has longevity. So totally swoon worthy generation after generation.

  • Helen says:

    Anna

    I have only watched P&P once and I did enjoy it very much and I thought Darcy was wonderful 🙂 and I am not sure whether I could ever choose one hero from the books I have read but I really think that the heroes from regency stories are just so dashing and honourable and I am not saying that the contemporary heroes aren’t but for me there is something about the style they had 🙂

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Well, Helen, clearly I agree with you, LOL! I think you’re so right about those great Regency heroes having so much style and dash. Quite makes a girl go weak at the knees!

  • As to heroes I would choose from romance novels? So many heroes. So little time! 🙂

    Kylemore from Claiming the Courtesan is still one of my favorites of all time. The man had so many demons even a priest would say “I’m not going there!” He starts as a spoiled, arrogant ass – but it his heart, still in there and willing to learn, wanting to love and be loved, wanting to be whole after so many years of being shattered – that is what makes him a hero.

    Dain, from Lord of Scoundrels.

    Christian from Flowers from the Storm

    Wulfric from Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn series

    Ivan/John from Dangerous to Love by Rexanne Bechnel

    I could go on and on! LOVE a Regency romance hero!

    • Louisa, that’s wonderful company you’ve got Kylemore in – so glad he’s still one of your favorites! Dain and Christian are both faves of mine. Need to check out the other two. I love Mary Balogh’s books and she’s such a beautiful writer.

  • catslady says:

    I think it’s time I reread P&P – it’s been too many years lol. I don’t really have a favorite – I usually fall in love with the current one that I’m reading about. Surely there will be some remembered years from now!

    • Catslady, I re-read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago – loved it. Also re-read Persuasion which I think is probably my favorite Austen. There’s so much emotion and heart in that one. Northanger Abbey is probably the next Austen off the shelf for me.

      • Cassondra says:

        Fo I will have to pick your brain about Persuasion. I just didn’t connect with that story for some reason. I so wanted to, and I cared deeply, but I think I might be too….**steps closer and speaks in hushed tones** modern.

  • Shannon says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve read P&P or seen the BBC edition. (VCR doesn’t connect to new TV.)

    There’s a group that just finished a cycle of reading Jane Austen. They’re talking about starting up next year, meeting one Saturday for several hours to discuss one novel from a range of perspectives.

    I’m like Louisa. So many heroes, so many hankies, so little time…

    Definitely Wulfric

    Rothgar – Jo Beverly

    Brandon vlith Arkad – Sherwood Smith and Trowbridge’s 5 volume Exordium (sci-fi, not romance)

    Reginald Davenport – The Rake – Mary Jo Putney

    Sebastian in the Devil in Winter

    Gwenvael the Handsome – G. A. Aiken – What a Dragon Should Know

    Me thinking about other fictional men isn’t getting the house cleaned, the homework turned in…

    • Shannon, I had to laugh. Hmm, thinking about gorgeous blokes or doing the housework? I know which one I’d pick. Who cares if everyone in the house gets bubonic plague? I’ll be happily away in my rich fantasy life!

      What a great idea about the Austen group. It’s been fun revisiting the books. Problem is I don’t have very fond memories of either Sense and Sensibility or Mansfield Park or Emma so I suspect Northanger might finish me on that particular pilgrimage.

  • Oh, Anna, what a gorgeous post! LOVE Mr. Darcy! That painful struggle you mentioned is so delicious to a true romantic, isn’t it? The idea that not even such a powerful, wealthy man can conquer love when it finds him is what I find so appealing about Darcy.

    There are a few heroes I find memorable in romance genre fiction, but sadly I think they are largely unknown by the general public. I hope and trust they’ll go down in history with romance readers, though!

    • Christina, so glad you enjoyed the post. That idea of Darcy rising from the Serpentine to frighten the commuters has kept me amused ever since I first heard about it. And apparently the statue is going to end up in Australia. The local Lizzie Bennets will get the chance to drool all over him. I wonder if he’ll notice, given he’s all wet already!

  • Amy Conley says:

    Darcy, as much for the literary one as Colin Firth.

    • Amy, I think wonderful as the various film incarnations of Darcy have been, nothing beats him in the book!

      • Amy Conley says:

        Anna, I would say the reason why I feel this way is I saw the CF version of P&P many yeaaaars before I actually read the book. So, when I finally did read the book, I “saw” Colin Firth as Darcy from the beginning.

  • Deb says:

    Oooh, Anna. Yes, I am a Colin Firth-Darcy girl! I have the DVD of this P and P adaptation.
    I also like the hero Saint in Suzanne Enoch’s book LONDON’S PERFECT SCOUNDREL. Andrea, at TRD, and I love him. I usually don’t like bad boys, but Saint redeems himself greatly.

    • Deb, we do love our Regency rogues, don’t we? I’m currently polishing one up to appear in my Christmas novella this year, Her Christmas Earl. They’re such fun to write!

  • Sally Schmidt says:

    Oh yes, all the Darcys are wonderful. I have read P & P several times (although I think Persuasion is also my favorite but that’s more about Anne’s realization that she cannot lose Capt. Wentworth again). The movie Darcys are all so different but somehow all capture the essence from the book. Glad to see you mention Laurence Olivier. That version probably seems so dated to today’s audience (like my granddaughter who introduced me to the Matthew MacFadyen version), but when he (unwillingly) proposes to Elizabeth there is as much emotion there as with the others.

    Enjoying this post and the comments – more fictional heroes to start reading about!

    • Cassondra says:

      Sally, that’s very interesting. I love Mr. Darcy, but I have to say Persuasion was just lost on me. It was nice in a quaint sort of way, but I just never grabbed onto it. Maybe I should try it again.

    • Sally, thanks so much for swinging by. Is this your first visit to the Bandit lair? If so, welcome!

      My mum had crush on LO so we saw that MGM Pride and Prejudice a lot. I love the scene where Lizzie is doing archery. It’s not in the book but it’s the rare case of something in a movie that SHOULD be in the book.

      • Sally Schmidt says:

        Not the first time but fairly new. Really enjoying it.

        I had forgotten about the scene. You’re right, it is terrific and perfectly played.

  • Cassondra says:

    OMG! I laughed out loud at the video of the folks reacting to Mr. Darcy rising from the water. I have to say that this is where I think the British sense of humor comes out way on top of anybody else’s.

    Interesting to learn that he’s moving from lake to lake, which is even funnier. I have to wonder who created him and why. That’s quite the publicity stunt if it’s for either film or television. I doubt it’s for books.

    It’s a very good question about why Mr. Darcy has remained the hero of note for so very long. He’s flawed, he’s a good person, he feels deeply and is not afraid to come clean about all of it in the end. We go for that with each of our heroes, but I can’t say what makes this one work so successfully. I haven’t seen all the incarnations of Darcy yet. Perhaps I’ll make a study of those this winter. I’m about to get Netflix, so I’m thinking I’ll be able to access all of them through that service.

    Excellent question, Anna. I wish I had an answer. I would attempt to build a hero just like him. Though the whole transient “Lord of the Lake” thing…I don’t know about that.

    • Cassondra, Lord of the Lake? I love it. In fact, I think I want to write a medieval called just that about Fitzwilliam de Darcy who steals away local virgins and makes them play the piano for Lady Catherine De Bourgh!

      Yeah, the video’s something else, isn’t it? Made me giggle at the time. Still does. Love that he’s got nipples! You’ve got to get that accuracy in there, haven’t you? Snerk!

      • Cassondra says:

        If you do write that, with the Lord of the Lake, there must be sword throwing at some point… [cue monty python] “…you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.”[/monty python]

  • Thanks, everyone, for swinging by to talk about one of my favorite guys! What fun we had!