I just finished re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the 3rd time. I love that book hard. But I have some beef with Ms. Jane Austen. Her book messed me up when I was young. And I would argue it has the potential to mess up thousands of young women. Have you noticed the Mr. Darcy character has pretty much become a stock character in popular books and movies? There are tall, dark handsome, snarky men-and they suddenly turn into lovely, adoring partners when they find the right woman (only after overcoming some great obstacle in their relationship, obviously) in all the books and movies.
My Teenage brain internalization of Pride and Prejudice:Ohhhh goody! I met a pale, tall, dark stranger. He has a lot of money and comes from a prestigious family. He is awfully sarcastic and looks down on people. Yes! He will fall in love with me and see how wonderfully smart and witty I am and I will make him a better person for it! He loves me so much that he won’t be snarky and disrespectful anymore. He is so very smart!
Reality realized (5 years later):This guy is basically an asshole. He will never think I’m good enough. He is so full of himself that he talks down to me and ignores me. He is snarky to everyone – including me. He is disrespectful to my family. He will never change and I am not capable of making him change. Apparently my wit and charm are not as powerful as I thought.
What can I say? Teenage brains are impressionable. You could reasonably surmise that Kourtney Kardashian fell for the ol’ Mr. Darcy theory too. I really fear that with the prevalence of Mr. Darcy characters in popular culture we are developing entire generations of women that long for handsome, cold, dismissive, snarky men in the hopes that their love will alter these men.
It was a painful lesson. One I’m glad I learned. I didn’t marry a Mr. Darcy. Collin is definitely more of a Mr. Bingley. He is joyful and happy and completely in love without having to agonize over it. Everything turned out ok for Elizabeth. But in my personal experience if a guy is a jerk-face to start with he isn’t going to be any better later. If someone treats other people badly it is a matter of time before he treats you badly too.
My beef is actually with copy-cats that have made the Mr. Darcy character so pervasive. Maybe I could have shrugged it off if I had only been exposed to this idea one. Can we get a new male character?
Did anyone else have Mr. Darcy attraction complex? Did you marry a Mr. Darcy? Have you ever successfully changed someone, the way Mr. Darcy changed for Elizabeth?