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Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet by C. E. Brock (1895)
She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.
||Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
||Pemberley House, near Lambton, Derbyshire
||Mr. Darcy and Lady Anne Darcy (formerly Anne Fitzwilliam)
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a fictional character and one of two protagonists in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. He is an archetype of the aloof romantic hero, and a romantic interest of Elizabeth Bennet, the novel's main protagonist. The story's narration is almost exclusively from Elizabeth's perspective; she is portrayed as the sympathetic figure, and Darcy hardly so at all until the later chapters of the novel —as knowledge and ironic events are revealed to Elizabeth. Usually referred to only as "Mr. Darcy", his first name is mentioned twice in the novel.
In the novel, Mr. Darcy is a wealthy gentleman with an income of at least £10,000 a year, and the proprietor of Pemberley, a large estate in Derbyshire, England. Darcy slights Elizabeth Bennet at their first meeting, but then is attracted to her, and later begins to court her (in his own way) while struggling against his continued feelings of superiority. Ironically, when Darcy realizes his friend Bingley is seriously courting Elizabeth's elder sister Jane, he disapproves, and subtly persuades Bingley that Jane does not return his feelings (which he honestly believed). He later explains this seeming hypocrisy by asserting "I was kinder to [Mr.Bingley] than to myself". Although he does not realize this, Darcy's interference in Bingley and Jane's budding relationship has caused Elizabeth to dislike him intensely.
It is when she defiantly rejects his proposal of marriage that Darcy is awakened; he is stunned, and shocked into a new reality of how his behaviour is perceived by others, particularly Elizabeth. Now he reconsiders all, and then commits to go out of his way to demonstrate his respect and devotion for her. He tempers his pride, re-evaluates his feelings on the relationship between Bingley and Jane, and acts to save Elizabeth's youngest sister Lydia from disgrace at the hands of George Wickham: after these two have run away together, Darcy induces Wickham to marry Lydia. His rescue of Lydia from disgrace was done not to win Elizabeth but to ease her distress, because he attempts to keep her from knowing about it, and because he feels responsible for having failing to denounce Wickham whom he knew had already attempted to seduce his sister. The novel suggests that it may have cost him as much as a year's income. (This contrasts sharply with a situation in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, where Mr. Crawford proposes to Fanny Price immediately after doing a favour for her that cost him very little.) Mr. Bingley eventually comes back to Jane, and Darcy proposes to Elizabeth again. Elizabeth accepts him, and her mother is happy with the double wedding of her two eldest daughters to wealthy husbands.
Darcy is depicted within the novel as a seemingly cold and aloof man with a large sense of personal pride that frequently expresses itself as arrogance. His distant manner and apparent contempt for those around him earns the disdain of both Elizabeth and many of the other characters, particularly in light of the claims of the more charming George Wickham that Darcy has wronged him, which are initially believed because of his more charming appearance. It is eventually revealed, however, that these first impressions are erroneous, as Darcy's seemingly arrogant character masks a sincerely generous and upright nature, and that it was in fact Darcy who was wronged by Wickham, whose own character is revealed to be untrustworthy and duplicitous. Even his interference in the relationship between Jane and Bingley is explained as being motivated by genuine concern for the feelings of his friend rather than out of malicious intent, although upon reexamination of his behaviour Darcy comes to acknowledge that his interference was harmful and wrong.
Depictions in Film & Television
Cultural influence and legacy
- The character of Fitzwilliam Darcy has appeared in and inspired numerous works. Both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet feature as part of *science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer's 'Wold Newton family' concept, which links numerous fictional characters (such as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes) together via an interconnected family tree of people and events. According to Farmer's works, both were recipients of radiation resulting from a meteorite that struck Wold Newton in Yorkshire in the 1790s (this event actually occurred). This allowed them to be the ancestors of many other famous literary characters, some of whom possessed unusual or even superhuman gifts and abilities. Numerous re-imaginings of the original work written from the perspective of Mr. Darcy have also been published, among them American writer Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy.
Colin Firth as Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation
- Helen Fielding has admitted she "pillaged her plot" for Bridget Jones's Diary from Pride and Prejudice. In Bridget Jones's Diary and its sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Bridget Jones is constantly mentioning the 1995 BBC adaptation and watches the scene in the fourth episode where Darcy (Colin Firth) comes out of a pond wearing a wet white shirt numerous times, and refers to the Darcy and Elizabeth of the TV series as "my chosen representatives in the field of shagging, or, rather, courtship". When in The Edge of Reason Bridget becomes a journalist, she is flown to Italy where she is to interview Firth about his (then upcoming) film Fever Pitch, but finds herself only asking him questions about Mr.Darcy and the filming of the "pond scene". This scene was shot but not included in the film adaptation of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. This scene can be seen in the DVD's extra features. Colin Firth's "pond scene" made it into Channel 4's Top 100 TV Moments. Colin Firth has found it hard to shake off the Darcy image, and he thought that playing Bridget Jones’s Mark Darcy, a character inspired by the other Darcy, would ridicule and liberate himself once and for all from the character.
- The character of Fitzwilliam Darcy is featured by a Texas-based rock band touting the name Darcy. Furthermore, for acoustic performances, the band goes by its alias "The Fitz," which is short for Fitzwilliam, the band's alter-ego. The band claims to make literature-based rock music, a claim supported by the band name itself and songs such as "Laura Ingalls" and "Romeo and Juliet Postmodern Alternate Ending."
- In a page of the web based comic "Hark, a vagrant contains a satirical "Fan Fiction" of Mr. Darcy.
- American author Sarah Arthur's book "Dating Mr. Darcy: The Smart Girl's Guide to Sensible Romance" is as the name suggests heavily influenced by the character Mr. Darcy from the novel.