I first read Pride and Prejudice in my English Literature class in high school. I remember that it was a bit hard to read as it was the first Regency fiction I had read. After several chapters the odd language and style of writing became normal and I fell in love with Mr. Darcy. I had already decided in the first chapter that Elizabeth Bennet was me, partially because my mother had told me that they had almost named me Elizabeth, partially because I was one of four sisters, and partially because my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Bennet completely with one ignoring us and one prone to histrionics and controlling situations.
When Mr. Darcy insulted Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, he insulted me. When Elizabeth ran into Mr. Darcy at Hunsford, I felt surprised and confused when he kept running into her. And after reading the letter Mr. Darcy handed to Elizabeth after that horrible proposal, I cried. Literally, I cried. My heart was broken. Mr. Darcy was not a horrible man completely and Elizabeth had forever lost him! And I cried again.
I gasped and held my breath when Elizabeth and the Gardiners encountered Mr. Darcy at Pemberley. I stayed up reading the next chapter under the covers with a flashlight. I had to know if they finally got together. But then Lydia, that horrible self-centered Lydia ruined it all. I cried. I shut off the flashlight and refused to read any further that night.
Finally, after a day, because the deadline to have read the book was coming up rapidly, I picked up the book that I now hated and continued to read. I did not want to read that Elizabeth had turned into a spinster while still pining for Mr. Darcy. I was stunned when Mr. Darcy set off for London thinking he had to make things right. I have engrossed in the story again. I had to know what happened next. Oh please, let Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth end up together!
My heart was full, I could not stop reading. But when Mr. Darcy visited Longbourn with Mr. Bingley and ignored Elizabeth, I cried. How could he do this? Did he not move mountains for that worthless Lydia and yet he ignores Elizabeth? What was going on?
Thankfully, Elizabeth had moxy and broached the subject to the quiet, proud man next to her. She thanked him for his service to Lydia and therefore her family. Then, Mr. Darcy stated he did it only thinking of her. I had tears running down my face as I smiled so big that my cheeks hurt while I read those amazing lines.
“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.”
He still loved her! After all this time, being apart, the scandal of Lydia, her parents and Lydia still behaving the same, he still wanted her! I cried while beaming. That was love, the kind of love I wanted for myself. And that was when I fell completely in love with Mr. Darcy.
And it is probably also the reason I am still unmarried. Mr. Darcy, setting unrealistic expectations for men since 1813.
After reading the ending, I wanted more. But Jane Austen had not written another book with these beautiful characters. I wanted more, but it was not until 2018 that I found out there were Pride and Prejudice variations. Some were sequels, some were brand new ideas with the same characters, some were in modern times and some had fantasy elements thrown in. I had found my more and furthermore, I had found my people.
I will never tire of reading and writing about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. He was and still is, my first love.