Rebecca Ann Collins
The Pemberley Chronicles Series
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Discovering Mr Darcy
Researching the characters for a sequel is usually not a major problem- if the writer is content to follow the guidelines set by the original author. With Jane Austen’s characters – it pays to look within the text for the clues she gives us .
With some of her men, there are not many clues. Some, like Edmond Bertram in Mansfield Park, seem too good to be true, but with others like Mr Knightley ( Emma) and Captain Wentworth, ( Persuasion) she gives us plenty of useful information.
Mr Darcy is particularly interesting because his character actually develops and changes in the course of the novel- not, as Elizabeth tells Wickham- “ in essentials” but in the way she ( and we) perceive him through his general conduct and conversation as well as the reports of others.
We learn from Darcy’s own words later in the novel, that he, stung by Elizabeth’s criticism, has made a deliberate effort to change his behaviour in order to win her regard and hopefully, her love. Discovering the essential Darcy was therefore not such a problem after all.
Rule one- set aside the actors- Colin Firth, Lawrence Olivier, Matthew Macfadyan et al- and return to the text for the real Mr Darcy. To begin with, Darcy and his friend Bingley are carefully described- as opposites and when we meet them at the Assembly Rooms- we see this enacted in their behaviour. Darcy is reserved, appears proud and arrogant and the few comments he makes, confirm this impression. Later – with the Bingley women hanging on his every word, he seems even more so.
But there are other elements which we cannot ignore; he is open and honest, educated and well read and his friend Bingley speaks highly of his honour and integrity. Wickham, on the other hand, has made grave allegations against him and we are yet to learn that they are untrue.
When Elizabeth, already prejudiced against him by Wickham, meets him at Hunsford and Rosings , his is courteous and polite, but awkward and reserved unlike his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is charming and friendly. The contrast doesn’t improve her opinion of Darcy at all.
Rebecca Ann's Notebook
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
DISCOVERING MR DARCY
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - READER'S VIEWS
WHY REVISIT NETHERFIELD