The allure of Mr. Darcy
Mélanie learned Darcy's name before the names of the other characters. She likes to say "Mr. Darcy say - No!" which is a rather garbled version of Elizabeth saying ":no" to Mr. Darcy in both books (when we read the book recently and I asked her what Elizabeth said to Darcy she said "No!" and giggled). A few weeks ago, Mélanie was protesting when I wanted to turn off a Barney video to watch Downton Abbey. Finally I said, "You'll like it, it's like Mr. Darcy." Mélanie said, "Oh, Mr. Darcy" and settled down with me to watch Downton Abbey.
Aside from appreciating my daughter's early literary tastes and hoping she grows up to love the Regency era as much as I do, this prompted me to think about the allure of Mr. Darcy, which seems to extend to the youngest of readers. What is it? His looks? They aren't dwelt on particularly in the book, though of course it doesn't hurt that modern readers are likely to picture him as Laurence Olivier, Colin Firth, or Matthew Macfadyen. His wealth? That doesn't hurt either but if it were enough to create a romantic hero, everyone would be in raptures over Maria's husband Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park and no one is (including Maria). There's the fact that, in Regency parlance, he has "a remarkably keen understanding" (or in X-Files terms, "smart is sexy"). I think there's something intriguing about Darcy's elusiveness, the fact that the reader gets to know the man beneath the façade along with Elizabeth (there's something fascinating about characters who reveal themselves in layers, a large part also of the fascination of Francis Crawford of Lymond). And the bone deep integrity beneath that aloof façade has an undeniable appeal. But I think there's a glamour that goes beyond that, something that even my two-year-old picked up on.
Is Mr. Darcy one of your favorite heroes? What do you think accounts for his appeal?