For years, friends have been telling me I would love North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I finally read it last month, and ohhh were they ever right! John Thornton is the perfect romantic hero—so devoted to the woman he loves. Like others, I couldn’t help comparing him to Mr. Darcy. Today, I thought it would be fun to have our swoon-worthy heroes, Darcy and Thornton, answer readers’ questions about love.
Dear Swoon-worthy Heroes, I never thought I’d fall for a geek, but I’m completely in love with the guy that repairs my laptop. How can I get him to love me back? Please Help!—Bugged
Thornton: I always recommend a dangerous experience to bring love to the surface. When I first met Margaret, she looked at me with such cold indifference, as if I were a rough, uncultured man of the lower classes. Nevertheless, I found myself wanting more and more to please her, to make her understand me.
The realization of my love for her came suddenly when she placed herself in foremost danger to save me from an angry mob. I would suggest that you take your geek sky-diving or stroll with him through inner city gang territory at night. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Darcy: Unlike Mr. Thornton, I needed no act of violence to realize my love for Elizabeth. Shortly after our acquaintance, her playful spirit won me over. I noticed the beautiful expression of her dark eyes, the lightness of her figure. When we spoke, she captured me further with her witty tongue. I had grown tired of women fawning over me and trying in every way to attract my attention. Elizabeth provided a different challenge for me, the thrill of the chase. If one were to employ Elizabeth’s technique, one would act in every way as if one despised this geek. Few men can resist such a challenge.
Dear Swoon-worthy Heroes, My girlfriend broke up with me last night. Should I give up, or should I keep trying to win her approval?—Hopelessly Devoted
Darcy: Unaccustomed as I was to anyone pointing out the flaws in my character, Elizabeth’s rejection struck me to the core. I felt obliged to make the necessary improvements. I also wrote a long letter, explaining myself. (A man should never underestimate the power of the written word.) Later, when circumstances favored me, I attempted to renew her acquaintance. So, in a word, yes, persist in the attempt. By no means, though, should you stalk her like a lost puppy, whining and simpering. Prove that you can better yourself, and she will come to you.
Thornton: Looking back on my own situation, I believe it was the fruit that did it. I brought fruit to her mother when she was ill. I also saved Margaret’s reputation, became a more compassionate employer, and made friends with an enemy because of her influence. But I believe it was the fruit. Bring her mother a few nice fruit baskets—the most beautiful fresh fruit you can find—and your lost love will eventually return.
Dear Swoon-worthy Heroes, I wanted to marry my girlfriend—until we met each other’s families. Now I’m not so sure. What do you do about difficult family members?—Home Boy
Darcy: It pains me to speak of the Bennet family’s lack of propriety, and it pains me all the more that I let them stand in the way of our happiness. What I would suggest is that you find a nice, cozy home in the Lake District, located far from the abode of your future wife’s family.
Thornton: Love is by nature selfish, forcing us to choose our own happiness over that of our family members. Marry her at once. Then, if you have need of more advice, you can ask my mother.