It’s Valentine’s Day and Mr Darcy is the perfect romantic hero, but why do we love Mr Darcy so?
Since Jane Austen first introduced Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy to the public in 1813, he has been a favourite of all romance readers. The question is why?
When the hero of Pride & Prejudice, Darcy, first makes his entrance at the Assembly, he is described as having the virtues of being a ‘fine, tall person’ with ‘handsome features, noble mien’, and maybe most important of all, ten thousand pounds a year. In today’s money that’s approximately one million pounds a year as income. Nothing to be sneezed at then or now.
What About Rochester And Heathcliff?
Beware: spoilers ahead!
- Rochester, from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, is a ‘tall, dark, handsome, and brooding’ hero, who is also wealthy. He is, in fact, considered the original tall, dark, handsome, and brooding hero. He is the prototype for nearly all heroes in gothic romances. Unlike Rochester though, Darcy isn’t hiding a mad wife in the attic. Nor is he trying to encourage Elizabeth to live with him as his mistress. He’s certainly not lying to her by pretending he’s single.
- Nor, like Heathcliff, from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, does Darcy marry someone he dislikes while in love with someone else. He doesn’t hang his wife’s dog or physically and verbally abuse his wife. Quite frankly, why anyone would think Heathcliff is a hero is beyond me.
But Darcy was also ‘proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him’. He was also fairly insulting about Elizabeth the first time he laid eyes on her. There was no love at first sight for Darcy! So clearly, tall, dark, handsome, and rich isn’t enough!
What Makes Darcy A Hero To Pine For?
Jane Austen created a living character. One who wears the breeches rather well, but is also aloof. It’s this aloofness that makes him more attractive. Unlike his friend, Bingley, he’s a hero we must work for. The reader discovers how at fault everyone’s opinion of Darcy is when Elizabeth visits Pemberley and hears the housekeeper’s account of his character.
The 4 Reasons We Love Mr Darcy So
It’s honour, kindness, and generosity that make us love Darcy.
- He protects his sister’s reputation even as his own is being maligned. He has every reason in the world to dislike Wickham. The man tried to seduce his much younger sister and continually lies about Darcy. Yet Darcy stays silent.
- He is a rescuer and doesn’t boast about it. On hearing from Elizabeth that Wickham has seduced Lydia, Darcy joins Elizabeth’s uncle in hunting for them. He bribes Wickham by settling his debts and paying for his colours – a commission in the army. But he also tells them not to reveal this.
- He can admit when he’s wrong. He is willing to admit, even if only to himself that he was wrong, and to change. When Elizabeth comments that she only grew better at playing the piano by practise, Darcy begins to practise talking to people and working on his social skills.
- He’s not a stalker. Having ardently, as he put it, expressed his love for Elizabeth and she rejects him, he never mentions it again. Nor does he storm off in a huff, seek revenge, or treat her to the cold shoulder. He behaves like a gentleman. Only when Elizabeth thanks him for rescuing Lydia from utter disgrace and ruin, does he say, ‘I thought only of you…My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.’
The Last Word
We hope this post helped you to understand the reasons we love Mr Darcy so.
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- The Romantic Heroine
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by Elaine Dodge. Elaine is the author of The Harcourts of Canada series. Elaine trained as a graphic designer, then worked in design, advertising, and broadcast television. She now creates content, mostly in written form, for clients across the globe, but would much rather be drafting her books and short stories.
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