13 February 2006
Who Could Doubt Mr. Darcy?
Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the BBC's "Pride & Prejudice"
Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" was named the most romantic book of all time by an association of novelists in Britian this week. I think few people can really doubt this honour. I first read the book back when I was in middle school. I liked it, but it didn't speak to me. I read it again in college. It was something of fantasy. Today, in my 30s, I relate entirely to it, on every level.
I have had the odd fortune to have a relationship that is, sometimes disturbingly similar to that of Mr. Darcy & Miss Elizabeth Bennett's. My husband and I didn't start off on the best of terms. He was proud & reticent. I was (am) outspoken and bold and didn't need another relationship. Like the fictional characters, those are the qualities that eventually drew us to one another. He embodies so many of the characteristics of a Regency gentleman, his "old-fashioned" beliefs make others laugh, while I am desperatly glad for them. I, on the other hand, have grown into a Regency lady. I used to be different...I think some people would be a little surprised at how I've changed. Today I delight in being a lady, feminine, and knowledgeable.
I think Jane Austen would be pleased to have her novel gain the honours it has, but I think she'd be even more pleased to know the traditions of her time aren't entirely lost.