For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has been an enigma and an idol—prompting Pride and Prejudice fans to re-visit the novel, create books and movies, and inspire writers to model their own heroes after his noble mien to relive their time with him in the original novel.
What is it about Darcy that makes him so admired, igniting passionate debates? Is he an arrogant snob, or a shy introvert? Why does his character arc in the novel move some so deeply, and anger others? Why do some actors excel in their portrayal of the iconic hero on screen, and others fail? While the discussions continue, Dr. Gabrielle Malcolm offers insights on all these questions, and more, in her forthcoming There’s Something About Darcy, publishing on November 11, 2019, from Endeavour Quill.
Like Mr. Darcy, this new literary criticism is much more than what appears on first acquaintance. We will not proclaim it tolerable (as he did when he first met Elizabeth Bennet), but declare it as tempting as his £10,000 a year income to any grasping Regency era mother. Here is a description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt from the author.
For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. What is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?
Dr. Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first-century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.
In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy, and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?
A must-read for every Darcy and Jane Austen fan.
Mr. Darcy is the most powerful force in his family. Colonel Fitzwilliam must be ‘at his [cousin’s] disposal’ for travel arrangements and family ‘business’. Elizabeth recognizes the impact Darcy has on those around him: “I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy.” She also educates Colonel Fitzwilliam about the relative degrees of social power and agency. He complains about ‘self-denial and dependence’ to which Elizabeth responds in her amused and candid fashion: “Now, seriously, what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence? When you have been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose or procuring anything you had a fancy for?” One of Elizabeth Bennet’s functions in the novel is to educate the Fitzwilliam and Darcy cousins on the real meaning of ‘dependence and self-denial’.
In return, Colonel Fitzwilliam relates to Elizabeth the actions that Darcy undertook to rescue Bingley from a huge mistake (poor Jane): “I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady.” He says this whilst finding her sister the most charming and pleasant of company. Elizabeth, stunned and wounded, feels her indignation rising at Darcy and his ‘interference’ in her sister’s life. Her ‘agitation and tears’ on that subject cause her to feel a headache coming on, and so she retires to Charlotte’s sitting room.
Anxiety, indignation, and antagonism grow in Elizabeth’s breast. Darcy is more and more on her mind. She muses on Jane’s letters that reveal how the Bingley family has snubbed her. It is from this point in the novel that letters play a bigger and bigger role in the narrative. Austen positions her characters to create the maximum drama. Into this tense situation, Darcy intrudes once more, to Elizabeth’s astonishment as she seeks some sanctuary in Charlotte’s sitting room.
Once Darcy has declared his feelings there is no going back. This declaration comes as a surprise to Elizabeth and the first-time reader. Perhaps the reader – along with Charlotte – could have discerned this approach, but it is the intensity of his feelings that startle both the reader and the heroine:
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
(Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 11, Volume 2)
Here we have it: the ‘ardent’ admiration and love; a struggle that has required all his strength but against which he is helpless. Darcy is compelled to make the forthright announcement that his feelings will not be repressed any longer.
Austen gets it just right. This is the internal struggle that the hero has had to undergo, with only the occasional glimmer in the free indirect narrative, to indicate the intensity of it. Now, the full force of this comes across and offers a rationale as to why Darcy is such a popular, enduring character. This is why the ‘mania’ for him is justified. It is Austen’s winning formula of literary and romantic alchemy, lightning in a bottle: the perfect appeal to the widest possible audience for the longest time. (Chapter 2 pages 58-61)
- “Gabrielle Malcolm’s fascinating study of the Darcy archetype through the ages will appeal to fans of Mr. Darcy and the general reader alike. Tracing the influence of Richard Sheridan and Lord Byron on Mr. Darcy, Malcolm goes on to analyse Darcy’s influence on figures such as Mr Rochester, Heathcliff and Edward Cullen, also embracing the many varied Darcys of Austenesque fiction along the way. A timely study and a great read.” – Amanda Grange, author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary
- “A must-have for any dedicated Jane Austen fan.” — Cassandra Grafton, author of A Fair Prospect
- “A light, bright and sparkling study of one of literature’s most appealing heroes, There’s Something About Darcy is a must-read for the Darcyholic in all of us.” — Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Dr. Gabrielle Malcolm lectures and writes about Jane Austen in popular culture and the global fan phenomena surrounding Austen’s work. She is the author of Fan Phenomena: Jane Austen and is a regular speaker at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, and the Jane Austen Regency Week in Chawton. She lives in Bath.
Arranged into several interesting chapters like, “Mr. what’s his name? The tall, proud man.”; Darcy on Screen; ‘What if?’: the master of Pemberley and the mania of sequel and fan fiction; Unwavering, enduring: Darcy – a hero for all time; and more, Malcolm approaches the subject with the skill of a scholar and the light touch of a fan. Tracing Darcy’s origins and his influence, the book takes the reader on an E-ticket ride through Darcyland. There’s Something About Darcy is a must-read for fan fiction writers who want to understand every aspect of his appeal, and for those who admire Jane Austen’s most endearing and enduring hero.
Austenprose is delighted to launch the #DarcyMania Blog Tour of There’s Something about Darcy. Learn more about the tour and follow along with us.
Author Gabrielle Malcomb’s new book, There’s Something About Darcy, is on virtual tour throughout the blogosphere November 1 – 20, 2019. Join in to discover what makes Jane Austen’s archetypal hero so memorable and endearing to millions of his ardent admirers.
- November 01 Austenprose
- November 01 Austenesque Reviews
- November 01 Diary of an Eccentric
- November 02 History Lizzie
- November 03 An Historian About Town
- November 04 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy
- November 05 The Shelf of Unread Books
- November 06 The Green Mockingbird
- November 07 Mrs. Brown’s Books
- November 09 Bookish Byron
- November 10 My Jane Austen Book Club
- November 11 The Book Rat
- November 12 What Cathy Read Next
- November 13 Babblings of a Bookworm
- November 14 From Pemberley to Milton
- November 15 Perfectly Tolerable
- November 16 Margie’s Must Reads
- November 17 Stacy is Reading
- November 17 The Book Stop
- November 18 The Worm Hole
- November 19 My Love for Jane Austen
- November 20 Mrs. Cooke’s Books
There’s Something About Darcy: The curious appeal of Jane Austen’s bewitching hero, by Gabrielle Malcolm
Endeavour Quill (November 11, 2019)
eBook (268) page
Cover image, author bio, & book description courtesy of Endeavour Quill © 2019; Excerpt Gabrielle Malcolm © 2019; Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, Austenprose.com