Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite books and by far my favorite classic. The female Protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, is a role model for women even now. She’s smart, strong, witty, and sticks to her values without seeming pushy, overbearing, or snarky. The love story that unfolds between her and Fitzwilliam Darcy shows an honest reaction to the characters’ situations and ultimately becomes one of the most romantic stories ever. This isn’t because it’s sappy and sweet, but because it is two whole but flawed people who fall in love despite the circumstances that should have torn them apart.
Darcy and Elizabeth were not “meant” to fall in love, logically speaking. But they did despite logic.
I truly love this story, so it puzzles me why I have heard so many people recently bashing my beloved Mr. Darcy. The people who dislike him seem to viscerally hate him, calling him a pompous and arrogant jerk who didn’t deserve Elizabeth. On the surface, that may seem so, but I want to come to the aid of Mr. Darcy not because I condone his actions in the book but because I get him.
Oftentimes, I’ve been him.
So here are my five reasons why I think Darcy deserves a second chance:
1. His personality type is misunderstood.
Elizabeth Bennet, as well as the rest of the Bennets excluding her father, Jane, and Mary, are all extroverts. They thrive around people and love to mingle and meet new people. This gives them life and energy.
From the first moment Darcy stepped in, I knew he was definitely an introvert. I have been told more often than not that I give off the same exact first impression that Mr. Darcy did at the dance. Because I’m quiet and reserved when met with a room full of strangers, people often assume I’m stuck-up, when really I’m just trying to temper the huge emotional drain of meeting new people. Introverts gain energy from being alone or in very small groups of trusted friends. So, when Darcy sees this huge group of people he doesn’t know, he goes on red alert. This introversion is also complicated by:
2. He very likely has social anxiety.
Not going to lie, Darcy is a bit of an awkward duck. He admits this to Elizabeth when he says, “I do not find it easy to talk to people I don’t know.” Also, when Elizabeth points out that he should practice more, he tries to do so with her and the whole interaction is an awkward mess. If you watch him, framing his actions within the parameters of social anxiety, Darcy makes so much more sense!
This point is actually why I love Matthew Macfadyen’s portrayal of Darcy. He brings out all of these character details that highlight how hard Darcy is trying.
3. His prejudices come from experience and ignorance, but he eventually changes them after valid arguments and reason.
Yes, Mr. Darcy is a proud man. However, given his life and circumstances, how can we say that we wouldn’t have ended up the same way? He has prejudices, just the same as any other human being. However, he admits when his prejudices are incorrect and changes his opinions based on his new found knowledge. He is not an immovable stone who is so far set in his ways that he can’t change his mind. Actually, Elizabeth is much more stubborn than Darcy if you look closely. His opinions of Elizabeth and Jane change as he gets to know them. And his assumption of Jane only wanting Bingley’s money is based on his experience with what happened to his sister Georgiana. Which leads us to:
4. He admits when he is wrong.
The entire fiasco of him splitting up Jane and Bingley is an ignorant reaction on Darcy’s part. He sees what happened with Georgiana and Wickham happening all over again and tries to spare his friend the same heartbreak his sister suffered. At that point, he does not understand how much Jane loves Bingley. When he is set straight by Elizabeth, he apologizes and admits his wrongdoing in the letter he gives Elizabeth. He also goes a step further to explain his side of the story and what happened with Georgiana so that Elizabeth could understand his part as well. His despicable behavior is just good intentions for the people he loves gone wrong.
5. He loves more honestly because he is not swept away by emotion.
In another awkward Darcy-duck moment, he tells Elizabeth all the faults he finds with her before professing his love to her. Not exactly romantic, Darc! But this moment shows us something else about him. He is a man of reason, but he is so in love with Elizabeth that the reasons he can come up with to object to her aren’t good enough. He sees her flaws, but they don’t matter to him. He loves her with or without her faults because they are a part of the woman he loves.
Granted, he should have found a better way to say that to her, or just not say that part at all, but this moment is a big deal to him. He has proudly moved beyond his own logic and like a cat with a dead mouse presents this gift to his love, dropping the messy rodent at her feet. It’s understandable why she doesn’t take this too well, especially because she had also just found out that he was the reason why Bingley left Jane. But here’s the point. Darcy loves Elizabeth so fully that he can see the real her, flaws and all, and the faults never swayed his loved. This is no puppy dog infatuation where he can’t see his love’s flaws because he’s so in love. Real love, deep love, sees the flaws and loves them all the same.
So yes, Darcy may seem like a jerk on the surface, but if you really take the time to understand him, Darcy is a loyal, loving man who just tries too hard sometimes. Don’t hold him to his first impression. Elizabeth didn’t.
What are your thoughts on Darcy? And who is your favorite pair of lovebirds? Let me know in the comments below!