I’m sure my husband is not the only man who’s watched all the movie versions of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility—some of them multiple times. He was a good sport to wear a cravat at the Jane Austen Society Ball. (In case you’re wondering, he has informed me that cravats are even less comfortable than ties.) And he only rolled his eyes a little bit when I bought my “I Love Darcy” shopping bag.
Last month, on Valentine’s Day, he penned a love letter worthy of a Janeite. In one paragraph he wrote, “I know I don’t have a huge estate and servants and no one wants to see me in a wet pirate shirt after I have a little swim in my concrete pond. (Of course, it’s easier to have those things when you’re a fictional character and someone can write 200,000 pounds a year as easily as writing 5,000 pounds a year. It didn’t come out of Jane’s pocket. And you never see Darcy in the weightroom.)” As I read his words, I laughed until I cried. He had a clear case of Darcy envy, and he was justified!
When you consider Darcy’s limitless supply of cash and his vast estate, it’s hard for any modern man to compete. What we need to remember, though, is that Elizabeth didn’t love him because of his wealth. At first, his high class status was a turn-off for her. His personality was what finally captured her heart. She came to admire his devotion to his family and friends. She loved that he could keep Mr. Wickham’s story a secret when doing so damaged his own reputation. And, she loved that he could overlook her embarrassing family because of his love for her. For Elizabeth, Darcy’s wealth was simply a bonus.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the lives of the rich and famous. Occasionally, though, when I forget to bring a book to a doctor appointment, I end up paging through a People magazine–Gah. So far, I have not found anyone like Mr. Darcy in that magazine. It’s not like we need rich men anyway. We women can make our own money now. (Don’t tell him I told you, but when I married my husband, I had more money in the bank than he did. And I was okay with that.)
When we take Pemberley out of the picture, it’s easier to find a modern-day Darcy. Right now, mine is running a load of laundry. He also puts up with my crazy family and does dishes. Occasionally, he writes me love letters or naps beside me while I watch another version of Mansfield Park. Like Darcy,my husband can come across as a little gruff sometimes, but he’s really a gentle giant.
I like to think that men like Darcy are hiding all over the place. Take the policeman who gave you a ticket. Some day, he may help you change a tire. Then there’s the guy down the street who performs audits for the IRS. Maybe he’s really a hero in disguise. Granted, some guys who come across as shy and aloof really turn out to be jerks. I suppose it’s the same way with women. Not everyone can be as clever as Elizabeth Bennet, but then again, she’s a fictional character.
What do you think? Have you met a modern-day Darcy?