Pride & Prejudice: The Mystique of Austen’s Mr. Darcy

Illustration of Mr. Darcy, by Robert Ball, Double Day, Inc, (1945)MIEN

…but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The Narrator on Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 3

It is a well known fact that Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is one of the most acclaimed and beloved novels of literature. It has been recognized as such by reaching the top of many of the ‘best‘ or ‘favorite‘ book lists from readers, publishers and academia that have been conducted as of late. It is all very flattering and gratifying to Janeites who have long held it in high esteem among Austen’s milieu, but when society elevates its cultural accomplishments with accolades, one is compelled to ask why.

To answer the question properly, one could write a book extolling Pride & Prejudice’s merits, so to ‘cut to the chase’, I will go with gut instinct and credit the hero, Mr. Darcy for its success. The quote above is Jane Austen’s introduction to the character from the opening chapters of the novel, and aptly condenses all of my arguments in his favor quiet nicely. Mr. Darcy is interesting by nature of his physical appearance, refined manner, and Image of Sir Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, MGM, (1940)financial situation! At this point in the novel he has not spoken yet, so I will throw intellect into the mix as well. Any one of these attributes alone could recommend a new man in the neighborhood, but combine all four of these qualities and he is a male sex bomb! The Regency Icon equivalent of hunky actor George Clooney, aristocratic Prince William, and filthy rich Warren Buffett, all rolled into one intriguing personae. Irresistible!

Image of David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, BBC, (1979)If we look even deeper yet, physical charms and big bank accounts can be a bit shallow and unrewarding spiritually as we see in Austen’s other charming rich boy of Pride and Prejudice, Charles Bingley. He is appealing enough to readers as a side dish, but he lacks the intellect, air of dignity and mien mystique of his particular friend Mr. Darcy. Bingley’s open and engaging manners make him agreeable and approachable, but there is no ‘back story’ brewing in Bingley’s life. He does not challenge our intellect or stimlate our passions. He is exactly what he appears to be – a fine, friendly young man of good fortune – end of story.

Image of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, BBC, (1995)Darcy is another matter. His haughty, quiet, and refined demeanor elevates him in our minds (and his) above the country gentility of the Meryton Assembly. His sharp intellect and reserved manner are what captivate our interest. Who is this man, and why does he act that way? Why does he think our heroine Lizzy Bennet is only tolerable? Why won’t he dance with any of the local ladies? Is he just a snob, or is shy? Austen has established an aire of mystique, and our romantic curiosity is arroused.

Image of MatthewMcFadden as Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, (2005)Many people read Pride and Prejudice and think that it is about the five Bennet girl’s quest for husbands. The main character Elizabeth Bennet is often credited as the finest literary heroine ever written. These points may be true, but I put it to you that if Austen had not created such an arrogant, intellectual, and mysterious hero as Mr. Darcy to pique Lizzy Bennet into crisp dialogue and strong prejudices, the book would be forgotten, languishing as a Regency era amusement in the British library catalogue of early female writers.

Do you want to know what others think of Mr. Darcy and his incredible influence on our culture? Check out some of these great online articles.

*illustration of Mr. Darcy by Robert Ball, Double Day, Inc., Garden City, New York, (1945)   

Jane Austen Inspired Ephemera

NEW NOTES, ADDRESS BOOK & JOURNAL

This was a letter to be run through eagerly, to be read deliberately, to supply matter for much reflection, and to leave everything in greater suspense than ever. The Narrator, Mansfield Park, Chapter 43

 

Image of Jane Austen note card box coverThe talented folks at Clarkson Potter Publishers, have created this beautiful set of four Austen inspired blank note cards housed in a keepsake quality box. Designed by Margaret Hinders for Potter Style, each of the note cards contain a pastel coloured vintage Regency era image, graphic embellishments and a quote from one of the novels or letters by Jane Austen.

Image of Jane Austen note cardAlso available in the series is a compact journal for those clever on-the-spot writing inspirations that we never remember unless we write them down, and an address book for handy access to important phone numbers and addresses of your Janeite friends who you owe long letters too! These little treasures are light and great for travel, or stuff them in that capacious handbag that your friends and family tease you about.

Image of Jane Austen note cardIn the spirit of the lost art of letter writing, you know that instrument of gentile social discourse that every Regency Miss practiced daily, here is one of Miss Austen’s most famous letters from her novel Pride and Prejudice to inspire you. Written by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet after her refusal of his marriage proposal, it’s contents transform her prejudices of him, and is a turning point of self discovery for her. 

Image of Jane Austen note card“Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten; and the effort which the formation, and the perusal of this letter must occasion should have been spared had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.

Image of Jane Austen journal“Two offences of a very different nature, and by no means of equal magnitude, you last night laid to my charge. The first-mentioned was that, regardless of the sentiments of either, I had detached Mr. Bingley from your sister; and the other, that I had, in defiance of various claims, in defiance of honour and humanity, ruined the immediate prosperity and blasted the prospects of Mr. Wickham. — Wilfully and wantonly to have thrown off the companion of my youth, the acknowledged favourite of my father, a young man who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who had been brought up to expect its exertion, would be a depravity, to which the separation of two young persons, whose affection could be the growth of Image of Jane Austen address bookonly a few weeks, could bear no comparison. But from the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my actions and their motives has been read. If, in the explanation of them, which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of relating feelings which may be offensive to yours, I can only say that I am sorry. The necessity must be obeyed, and farther apology would be absurd.

The entire letter from Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet continues here. The note cards, journal and address book are available on-line, and through Randon House, Inc.

Pride & Prejudice: A Young Man of Large Fortune

Image of Allison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, BBC, (1995)FORTUNE

“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately;” Mrs. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 1

Don’t you just love Mrs. Bennet? No hidden agenda here. Her introduction in the novel Pride & Prejudice quoted above reveals just about everything we need to know about her personality and motivations. It’s all about social position and money.

Being the mother of five unmarried daughters between the ages of 15 to 22 who have no immediate marriage prospects on the horizon can really wear on ones nerves, which she reminds us of quite frequently. And her husband, Mr. Bennet, does not sympathize with her in the least, nor share her concern about their children.

“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied he; “they are all silly and ignorant, like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.”

“Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way! You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.”

“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.”

“Ah! you do not know what I suffer.”

“But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many young men of four thousand a year come into the neighbourhood.”

“It will be no use to us if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them.”

“Depend upon it, my dear, that when there are twenty, I will visit them all.”

Image of mr. & Mrs. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, BBC, (1995)

Poor Mrs. Bennet. She may be a very silly woman, but at least she has some idea of the importance of her daughter’s marrying quickly and to men of good fortune. Her methods for procuring husbands, as we will see, may be creative, but her heart is in the right place.

Image of Lizzy & Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, BBC, (1995)Be sure to mark your calendars and set your watches for the Masterpiece Classic airing of the 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle as wity, plunky and perky Lizzy Bennet and Colin Firth, who needs no introduction, as her sparing partner Mr. Darcy, in the BBC and A & E production of Jane Austen’s classic novel on Sunday, February 10th at 9:00 pm on PBS

PBS Masterpiece Unveils New Interactive Web Site

 Image of new Mastepiece banner

THE COMPLETE JANE AUSTEN SERIES

 INITIATES NEW WEB SITE FEATURES

 

Image of Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, PBS PersuasionIt’s official! In honor of the ‘opening night’ season premeire of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Masterpiece Theatre Classic has revealed their bright and shiny, new interactive web site; – – and it’s ready for your perusal and enjoyment,  full of all sorts of bells and whistles!

Be prepared to be wowed, cuz it sure knocked my bonnet off!

Image of Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland, PBS Northanger AbbeyThe front page sports a completely new design and displays The Complete Jane Austen series, opening with a slide show of photos of Persuasion, and access to a preview film clip. Each of the adaptations are accessible from this portal. Oh joy!

Image of the cast of Mansfield Park, PBSYou can explore each of the six adaptations: Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and new biopic Miss Austen Regrets from the Classic Schedule. Dig deeper and discover the synopsis, cast & credits, cast interviews, characters, Jane Austen and resources for each production!

Image od Olivia Williams as Jane Austen in PBS, Miss Austen RegretsOf particular amusement, is a special section devoted to The Men of Austen, where you can read match.com-like bios of each of the bachelors, learn “who is a dream, a bore or a scoundrel”, and then vote on your choice of the ideal Austen mate! Check the tallies to see how you rate against other Austen addicts. 

Image of the Dashwood sisters of Sense & Sensibility, PBS 2008There is so much to see and explore that you can spend hours just cruising about, scouring the historical archives, peeking at the poster gallery, learning about educational resources, shopping at the store, and connecting to the community through the discussion boards that I will cut it short like Mr. Darcy and decree, “GO TO IT”!

  

PBS to Connect Jane Austen Community

Illustration by Miroot Puttapipat, “Boxhill Picnic”, Emma, Chapter 44CONNECTION 

I congratulate you, my dear Harriet, with all my heart. This is an attachment which a woman may well feel pride in creating. This is a connection which offers nothing but good. It will give you every thing that you want — consideration, independence, a proper home — it will fix you in the centre of all your real friends, close to Hartfield and to me, and confirm our intimacy for ever. This, Harriet, is an alliance which can never raise a blush in either of us.” Emma Woodhouse, Emma, Chapter 9 

In Jane Austen’s 18th-century society, personal alliances fueled the social strata, connecting families in marriage, and in business. And so it continues today, as PBS reaches out to the Jane Austen community to promote its upcoming series The Complete Jane Austen, through its online guest blogger project Remotely Connected.

Eight Austen enthusiasts and authorities from the online community have been invited to write about each of the upcoming Jane Austen adaptations and a new biography being presented by Masterpiece Classic, beginning Sunday, January 13th with Persuasion, and concluding in April with Sense & Sensibility.

Uniting these eight unique Austen resources brings together a talented and diverse group of Janeites, who have created the most informative and lively web sites and blogs on the internet to honor and discuss their favorite author. Here is a list of the accomplished writers in order of their contribution to Remotely Connected, and their online entities.

Image of Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, PBS presentation of Persuasion (2008)Victoire Sanborn (Ms. Place) of Jane Austen’s World: This blog brings Jane Austen and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th-century historical details. Enjoy thoroughly researched and enlightening posts about everything from netting a reticule to Jane Austen’s timeless insights. Her other blog Jane Austen Today explores how we see Jane Austen today through movies, print, sequels, web sites and modern day media. The talented and knowledgeable Ms. Place will be writing about Persuasion, which airs on Sunday, January 13, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Felicity Jones s Catherine Morland, Persuasion (2007)Heather Laurence of Solitary Elegance: This web site is a collection of educational and research resources relating to Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s often overlooked and underrated work. It also prominently features a beautiful collection of watercolor illustrations from all of Jane Austen’s novels by the renowned artist, C.E. Brock. Heather also shares her unique sense of humor, Jane Austen passions, and family exploits on her clever Gimletblog, (more fun than a poke in the eye with a stick). The accomplished and elegant Heather will be writing about her favorite novel, Northanger Abbey, which airs on Sunday, January 20, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Billie Pier as Fanny Price, Mansfield Park (2007)Lori Smith of Jane Austen Quote of the Day: This blog features daily wit and inspiration from Austen through quotes from her novels and letters, with such gems as “I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible” and “Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.”. Lori is a freelance writer and recent author of the lovely and favorably reviewed book, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love and Faith. You can read the latest news about its release on her other blog, Following Austen. Lori’s sensitive and patience nature will serve her well when she writes about Mansfield Park, which airs on Sunday, January 27, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Olivia Williams as Jane Austen, in Miss Austen Regrets, (2008)Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose: My blog is a daily celebration of the brilliance of Jane Austen’s writing, including passages and quotes from her novels and letters, and focusing on her ability to write of the society in 19th-century rural England with keen observation, irony and wit. Also featured are vintage and contemporary illustrations from her novels. I am a life-long Austen devotee who now augments my passion by introducing others to the delights of Miss Austen as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. I also co-blog with Ms. Place at Jane Austen Today. I will be writing about the new biopic, Miss Austen Regrets, which airs on Sunday, February 3, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride & Prejudice, (1995)Myretta Robens of The Republic of Pemberley: As the co-creator of the pre-eminent Jane Austen site on the web, Myretta has an acclaimed and established history as an authority of our authoress, and  online communities. Author of two Regency era novels, Just Say Yes, and Once Upon A Sofa, you can read further about her accomplishments at her web site: Myretta Robens, Regency Romance. Myretta will be writing about her favorite novel Pride & Prejudice (1995), staring Jennifer Ehle & Colin Firth, which airs on three consecutive Sundays, February 10, 17 & 24, at 9:00 pm

Image of Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse, in Emma, (1996)Jessica Emerson (Janefan) of Austen-tatious: A Jane Austen fan blog, “marked by, or fond of, conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display of all things related to Jane Austen“, that is always light, entertaining and filled with news and personal insights about movies, books, print media and news around the web concerning Jane Austen. Jessica is a professional writer in the communications industry and an avid reader. Visit her other blog, The Bookworms Hideout, for her perspective on current book publications and the classics. Jessica will be writing about the adaptation of Emma (1996), staring Kate Beckinsale & Mark Strong, which airs on Sunday, March 23, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood, in Sense & Sensibility, (2008)Laurie Vera Rigler of A Great Deal of Conversation: The Blog & Forum: Calling all Austen addicts, be prepared to (almost) satisfy your obsession at Laurie’s beautiful web site and blog, featuring conversation (blog & forum), passions (links), many charming views (videos) and information about her latest book, The Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Laurie is a freelance book editor who teaches writing workshops, and is a popular guest blogger. Her vibrant comedic style and high energy will serve her well when she writes about Sense & Sensibility, one of Austen’s most moving and humorous novels, airing on two consecutive Sundays, March 30 & April 6, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Hattie Morhan as Elinor Dashwood, in Sense & Sensibility, (2008)Margaret Sullivan (Mags) of AustenBlog: A compendium of news about Jane Austen in popular culture, because (as she should be) …”She’s everywhere.” Mags’ unique wit and waggish voice will keep you laughing and shaking your head at the foibles of the news media, writers and movie makers who attempt to interpret Austen in their ‘own’ light. Her recent book, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Simple Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, received high praise within the industry and Austen community. Her other online accomplishments include web sites Mollands and Tilneys and Trap-doors. Mags will be writing about Sense & Sensibility, airing on two consecutive Sundays, March 30 & April 6, at 9:00 pm.

I am sure that you will join me in congratulating each of these talented and devoted Janeites, visit their sites and blogs, and bookmark the PBS blog Remotely Connected to have your share of the conversation after each adaptation airs.

(Post Script) Did you notice that each of the ladies personalities match the heroine of the novel/adaptation that they are writing about? Hah! I did. Present writer excluded since saying I was like Jane Austen would, – – like be so totally fer sure not true babe,  – – as if!

*Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, “Pardon me – but will you be limited as to number – only three at once”, page 336, Folio Society, London, (2007)

Jane Austen gifts & toys

Image of Jane Austen license plate

THIS IS GRATUITIOUS SELF PROMOTION

BUT I LOVE MY JANE AUSTEN TOYS

 

I wept the day I moved away from the state of California. My family thought that I was being sentimental, and rightly so. I had lived there all of my life. I was leaving friends, connections and fair weather. Reason enough to be sad. Truth-be-told, I had just learned that the state of Washington did not offer a heart character in their personalised license plates. I would not be able to re-create my favourite Jane Austen toy; – – my ‘heart’ JAUSTN license plate. Oh misery and woe, you are cruel companions!

My next shock was when I visited the state automobile registration office to apply for a new license. When the clerk coldly asked me to hand over my California plates, you never saw someone walk so decisively out of a government office. Total knee jerk reaction. I didn’t even realize what I had done until I hit the street. Phew! Only Lydia Bennet’s stealth elopement had more velocity.

I can’t tell you how I managed to keep them, because I like my freedom.

Image of the Pemberley ShoppeThere are so many ways that Janeites can celebrate our passion for our favourite authoress. The Republic of Pemberley has a wonderful selection of Austen inspired items at their Pemberley Shoppe. Recently my favourite item is the 2008 wall calendar entitled Aimable Rancor, featuring twelve months of inspiring Regency images and pert quotes by, – – you guessed it, – – Jane Austen. Image of Pemberley 2008 Aimable Rancor Wall CalenderPemberley’s items are so clever and beautifully designed that it is difficulty to decide which one to gift to a dear friend, or hoard for myself. Purchases are guilt free though, since the profits benefit a most deserving web site, The Republic of Pemberley.

What are your most amusing and or cherished Jane Austen items? Image of Peacock edition of Pride & Prejudice, published by George Allen, London (1894)Are you the lucky owner of the elusive Jane Austen bobble-head, or the highly collectible ‘peacock’ edition of Pride & Prejudice from 1894? Do you live in your Mrs. Darcy wanabe T-shirt? How many copies of the 1995 Pride & Prejudice have you gone through? Tell all.  

    

An Austen New Year awaits

Image of banner of The Complete Jane Austen PBS (2008)

PBS TO AIR ALL SIX JANE AUSTEN

 ADAPATIONS IN THE NEW YEAR

 

I am all anticipation of the new Masterpiece Theatre presentation, Sundays with Jane: The Complete Jane Austen, which airs on PBS starting January 13th at 9:00 pm. It will include four new adaptations of the Jane Austen novels Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, two previously aired productions of Emma (1997) and Pride & Prejudice (1995), and a new biography entitled Miss Austen Regrets based on the letters of Jane Austen. Better and better!

Image of the Masterpiece Theatre Jane Austen Promo

I dare say that such an inclusive Austen presentation has hitherto yet been televised. The closest event of such grandeur was from the now defunct Romance Channel’s 1999 airing penned Austen Power, which included four BBC Austen adaptations from the 1970’s & 1980’s; Mansfield Park (1983), Sense & Sensibility (1981), Emma (1972) and Pride & Prejudice(1980). This stroll through Austenland was only a teaser in comparison to what is in store for us from the good people at Masterpiece Theatre.

Image of Fanny Price and her court, Mansfield Park, PBS, (2008)          Image of the Dashwood family, Sense & Sensibility, PBS, (2008)  

In the PBS press announcement of The Complete Jane Austen this past summer, the Austen extravaganza was revealed in detail…

How many ways can a young woman find true love amid the dinner parties, balls, carriage rides, picnics and other picturesque opportunities to meet the opposite sex in turn-of-the-19th-century England? There are six transcendentally satisfying scenarios, as told in a half-dozen enchanting novels by Jane Austen – one of the most beloved writers in all of literature.

Well this is perky prologue! Read on…

Austen fans can now sit down to a weekly feast of all of her immortal plots, presented by MASTERPIECE ® THEATRE over the course of four months in beautifully acted, lavishly set and gorgeously costumed adaptations.

Four months IS an extravaganza. We shall have ample time to view, absorb and dissect every tidbit and nuance of the charms of her characters, plots and language; — swoon over the newest heartthrob and tear apart the ladies bonnets.

As a bonus, viewers will be treated to a new drama based on Austen’s own bittersweet love life, Miss Austen Regrets.

Image fo Becoming Jane poster (2007)Ok, that makes me nervous. After last summer’s fiasco Becoming Jane, I admit to being leery of liberal statements about Jane Austen’s love life. Let us hope that the writer and producer of Miss Austen Regrets did not opportune to be inspired by such openhanded tag lines from that movie such as “Jane Austen’s greatest love story was her own“, and “Her own life is her greatest inspiration“.  I shudder the thought.

The productions will be between 90 minutes to 5 hours in length, totaling 917 minutes of pure, or as may-hap be, almost Jane Austen for your viewing enjoyment!

  • Persuasion: 13 January 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Northanger Abbey: 20 January 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Mansfield Park: 27 January 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Miss Austen Regrets: 03 February 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Pride & Prejudice: 10, 17 & 24 February 2008, 9-11:00 pm
  • Emma: 23 March 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Sense & Sensibility: 30 March & 06 April 2008, 9-10:30 

Image of The Elliot family, Persuasion, PBS, (2008)The airings of the new productions have been a highly anticipated event in the Austen community since the advance publicity in Great Britian, where the new adaptations were produced and aired in 2007 and 2008. Not wanting to post any spoilers … we shall bite our tongue and withhold any opines until after viewing. If you can’t wait, you might be amused by some of the dish and banter about on the net-o-sphere which I have linked below. Be forewarned. Janeites are protective of their authoress, and vociferous on the topic of diversion from, and embellishment to the plots!

And … be sure to have your share of the conversation at the PBS on-line community blog, Remotely Connected, where during the week of each adaptation, a guest blogger will comment on each of the productions in the series starting with Persuasion, on the 13th. of January.