Mr. Darcy: A Man with a Plan

There are two scenes in the 1995 BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice” that have always captured my imagination. Neither scene appears in Jane Austen’s original novel, or in any other movie or TV adaptation. They’re very short transition scenes that occur back-to-back late in the film.

Both scenes take place at Pemberley. Elizabeth Bennet and the Gardiners have spent the evening with the Darcys and the Bingleys, during which Darcy and Elizabeth share That Look.

After Elizabeth and the Gardiners return to their lodgings at the inn at Lambton and everyone at Pemberley has gone to bed, Darcy cannot sleep. Restless, he walks the halls of Pemberley with a candlestick in his hand.

In the drawing-room he pauses to think back to the moment he and Elizabeth shared That Look. You can click the play button to view the scene:

In the last seconds of the scene you can see Darcy’s expression subtly change from one of pleasure at the memory . . .

. . . to determination.

It’s a small change, but I have a romantic streak in in me that makes me read a lot into those few seconds of film. In his expression I see reesolution; he’s a man with a plan to woo and win the woman he loves.

The next scene is also brief. It’s the following morning, and Darcy is getting ready to call on Elizabeth at the inn. Darcy selects the clothes he’ll wear, determined to look his best when he sees Elizabeth again. His valet tries to straighten his cravat, but Darcy stops him, impatient to be on his way.

Of course, when he arrives at the inn and sees Elizabeth, nothing goes right. Elizabeth is in no mood to be courted because she just received news about Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. Instead, Darcy departs without having a chance to put into action whatever plan he came up with the night before.

Even though I know those two short scenes were not in Jane Austen’s original novel, I think they add depth to the character of Mr. Darcy in the film. And I sometimes wonder as I watch this version of P&P what would have happened if Darcy’s plan had not been thwarted by the arrival of Lydia’s letter? Did he intend to invite Elizabeth and the Gardiners to dine again at Pemberley? Did he hope to contrive some way of spending time alone with Elizabeth? What would he have done next in his plan to woo Elizabeth Bennet?

Films adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels all take some license by adding small scenes that never appeared in Jane Austen’s books. Those scenes help tell the story and give small insights into the characters. Think of Edward Ferrars chopping wood in “Sense and Sensibility” (2008), or Mr. Knightley imploring “Try not to kill my dogs” in the archery scene in “Emma” (1996). And then there’s that gorgeous scene with Elizabeth Bennet standing alone atop a rocky peak in the 2005 version of “Pride and Prejudice.”

Do you have a favorite scene in a Jane Austen movie adaptation that wasn’t in the original novel? Please share it with us!

15 Responses to Mr. Darcy: A Man with a Plan

  1. Two not-in-the-original scenes I enjoyed (apart from the above) both include Charlotte: 1. 2005 Elizabeth on the swing when Charlotte tells her she will marry Mr Collins and, after Elizabeth’s incredulous reaction, Charlotte tells her “Don’t judge me.” 2. 2005 at the assembly when Elizabeth and Charlotte talk about “Poor miserable Mr Darcy” not being poor because he owns half of Derbyshire and Elizabeth comments “The miserable half?” Actually there are three: 1980 the very funny (I thought) scene with Mr Collins in the stream with his flotation-device hat. But no, I don’t suppose anything beats the sword fight or the jump in the pond — the scene that YouTube has titled “Colin Firth strips off.” Many thanks for a delightful posting, Nancy.

    • Glad you liked the post, Janis! Thanks for reminding us all about these scenes, as well. I forgot about Mr. Collins in the water with that ridiculous flotation hat (a gift from Lady C, naturally). It wasn’t in the original novel, but it works because it reinforces his personality and slavish devotion to Lady Catherine (and it’s pretty funny). 😀

  2. I’ve watched the 1995 & 2005 versions so so many times that I can’t remember if scenes were in the book or not (apart from the jumping in the pond scene ?)
    If I ever catch up with reading all the JAFF on my kindle (plus the new releases that I just have to buy and the favourites that I HAVE to re read? Well who knows I may actually re read the original ?!
    Thank you for this post, I loved all these scenes.

  3. I love that scene with Edward Ferrars chopping wood in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility–so much said and unsaid!

    And the scene between Elinor and Edward in the 1995 S&S when she chokes and breaks down crying at the end, both touching and a little humorous–but Elinor’s resolve of steel finally breaks…and at the perfect time! 🙂

    Plus there is the wonderful scene in the library at Norland Park when Margaret is hiding with the huge atlas and Edward and Elinor make up all sorts of outrageous geographical references to draw her out of her hiding place. Such a feeling of camaraderie and connection between Edward and Elinor!

    Thanks for these thoughts!

    Warmly,
    Susanne 😀

  4. Edward Ferrars sword fighting in the 1995 “Sense and Sensibility” and the little wave and smile to Emma Thompson’s character.
    Matthew Macfadyen’s smile when Elizabeth and the Gardiners arrive at Pemberley in the 1995, along with Georgiana’s look of knowing at her brother’s reaction.
    Likewise, Keira Knightley’s look of longing when Darcy brings Bingley to call again on Jane, and the resulting rehearsal of what Bingley will say when he marches back into the house is delightful.

  5. Enjoyed your post, Nancy. And I was glad to know that the 1995 version is not quite so perfect in sticking to Austen’s book. I do believe that all versions do take a few liberties whether to condense info or to have a scene become more effective. Although I haven’t watched the 1995 all the way through, I’ve viewed the 2005 a number of times. The dawn scene is my favorite. In fact, I probably would have enjoyed all versions of P&P if all were available. Unfortunately, the 1952, 1958, and the 1967 versions were basically destroyed by the tapes being reused. So sad. Pieces of movie history gone. At any rate, my favorite scene in the 1940 film is the archery scene where Elizabeth shows Mr. Darcy a thing or two. Thanks again. 🙂

    • You made me smile, Gianna, remembering the archery scene in the 1940 version of P&P. It had absolutely nothing to do with the novel, but it did capture Lizzy’s personality. I’ve also watched a couple of snippets from those early versions of P&P on YouTube, and I dearly wish there were more! Thanks for commenting!

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