It’s not exactly the book I wrote at seventeen. It’s not exactly the book I’d have written at forty-three. It’s a joint effort but, heh-heh, I don’t have to give him half the royalties. He’d only waste them.
-Terry Pratchett, on editing the new edition of The Carpet People
No, not referring to any actual guys in my life or anyone I know. I am referring to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, of Pride and Prejudice fame.
Fair warning, I’m about to get up onto my soapbox and there are going to be an awful lot of SPOILERS.
Most people, women especially, take this stance on Darcy:
And they just swoon over this part:
As well as at a lot of other parts, because he’s a GENTLEMAN, and he’s just shy and AWKWARD, and he CHANGES, and he loves Elizabeth so MUCH, and he helps with Lydia and Wickham’s wedding, and you just HAVE to love the end, when he calls her “Mrs. Darcy”…… et cetera, et cetera.
But what Darcy Fans never tell people when trying to convert them to the state of Austenite, is that shortly after he says he can “bear it no longer” and proposes to Elizabeth. She refuses.
Mr. Darcy: Are you rejecting me?
Elizabeth Bennet: I’m sure that the feelings which, as you’ve told me have hindered your regard, will help you in overcoming it.
Mr. Darcy: Might I ask why, with so little endeavor at civility, I am thus repulsed?
Elizabeth Bennet: And I might as well inquire why, with so evident a design of insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your better judgment. If I was uncivil, then that is some excuse. But I have other reasons, you know I have.
To clarify for those who don’t know, Darcy is very well-off, while the Bennetts are more in the middle-class area, and so it would not have been considered proper for Darcy to marry someone below his station. That explains part of why it goes against his ‘better judgement.’ The rest comes later.
Mr. Darcy: What reasons?
Elizabeth Bennet: Do you think anything might tempt me to accept the hand of the man who has ruined, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister? Do you deny that you separated a young couple who loved each other, exposing your friend to censure of the world for caprice and my sister to derision for disappointed hopes, involving them both in misery of the acutest kind?
Earlier on, Darcy persuaded Bingley to quit Netherfield Park, go to London for a while, and to not propose to Elizabeth’s sister Jane.
Mr. Darcy: I do not deny it.
Elizabeth Bennet: How could you do it?
Mr. Darcy: Because I believed your sister indifferent to him.
Elizabeth Bennet: Indifferent?
Mr. Darcy: I observed them most carefully and realized his attachment was far deeper than hers.
Elizabeth Bennet: That’s because she’s shy!
Mr. Darcy: Bingley was persuaded she didn’t feel strongly.
Elizabeth Bennet: You suggested it.
Mr. Darcy: I did it for his own good!
Elizabeth Bennet: My sister hardly shows her true feelings to me. [silence] I suppose his… fortune had some bearing?
Mr. Darcy: No, believe me I wouldn’t do your sister the dishonor it was just merely suggested…
Elizabeth Bennet: What was?
Mr. Darcy: [pause] It was clear that an advantageous marriage would be the worst option possible…
Elizabeth Bennet: Did my sister give that impression?
Mr. Darcy: No! No, there was, however, the matter of your family…
Elizabeth Bennet: Our want of connection? Mr. Bingley did not seem to object…
To once again clarify: Connections, knowing the right people and so on was very important in the Regency Era. Being a middle-class family in a small town, the Bennetts would not have had very good connections, making them less important to the posh people in society.
Mr. Darcy: No, it was more than that.
Elizabeth Bennet: How, sir?
Mr. Darcy: It was the lack of propriety shown by your mother, your three younger sisters, and even, on the occasion, your father. [thunder clash, Elizabeth is hurt]
You propose to her, she tells you no and gives her reasons, and then you start bashing her family? Yes, staying within the bounds of propriety was extremely important back then. It was as important as wearing a hat whenever you went out was in 1919 and the nineteen-twenties. And Elizabeth’s mother was to fault in having her youngest daughter Lydia ‘out’ before she was sixteen. That’s like letting a thirteen-year-old dress like she’s twenty-five, and her father was to fault in not being a bit more aware in how much his wife and daughters ran amok. But that’s all I’ll say in Darcy’s favor, because it was also very bad form for a gentleman in the Regency Era (Or really a gentleman in ANY era) to point out the bad manners and flaws of a person or her family members.
And why, may I ask you, did he help with Lydia and Wickham’s wedding, despite his extreme disapproval of the fact that Wickham gambled and drank away all his money, as well as his disapproval of Lydia and most of her family? (Jane and Elizabeth are somehow miraculously excluded) He helps because he wants to get in good with Elizabeth. He does it because he hopes to save her family from scandal (Which would make her even more unreachable) and ultimately win her over.
As for shy and awkward, no he wasn’t. He felt the Meryton assemblies beneath him, and he resented the fact that Bingley danced with Jane so much, because station.
And he never apologizes for any of it. All of the other Austen Men apologize for their mistakes, and their foolishness, and their harshness. Observe, if you will, the following:
Mr. Bingley, talking to Jane for the first time after not proposing to her and leaving for several months, breaking her heart entirely: (Pride and Prejudice) First, I must tell you I’ve been the most unmitigated and in-comprehensive ass.
Mr. Nobley, apologizing to Jane about being so horrible during a large part of the movie: (Austenland) You thought me horrible. I was horrible.
Mr. Knightley, referring to their earlier disagreement about who Harriet should marry: (Emma) I will do you the justice of saying that you would have chosen better for him than he did for himself. Miss Smith has some first-rate qualities, infinitely preferable to a sensible man than Mrs. Elton. I was surprised by our conversation.
Mr. Knightley, after scolding Emma for embarrassing Miss Bates: (Emma) It gives me no pleasure to say these things.
Captain Wentworth, trying to apologize to Anne for allowing her sister’s sister-in-law to attempt a jump off a rather high flight of steps while in Lyme Regis, but unable to find the right words. He still manages to get his meaning across, and his regret for all that had happened: (Persuasion) I wish… I wish…
And that’s only three movie adaptations of three out of six novels. I’m not as familiar as I should be with a couple of the other novels and their movie adaptations.
Oh! And kindly, as a last favor to me, read this exchange between Catherine Morland and Mr. Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbey, when Tilney is explaining why Catherine was turned out of Northanger Abbey, the Tilney’s residence in the middle of the night and was forced to make the journey unaccompanied on the stagecoach and apologizing for it, and assuring her that he is no longer angry with her for her thoughts that Captain Tilney, his father, might have murdered his mother:
Catherine Morland: He thought I was rich?
Henry Tilney: It was Thorpe who misled him at first. Thorpe, who hoped to marry you himself. He thought you were Mr. Allen’s heiress and he exaggerated Mr. Allen’s birth to my father. You were only guilty of not being as rich as you were supposed to be. For that he turned you out of the house.
Catherine Morland: I thought you were so angry with me, you told him what you knew. Which would have justified any discourtesy.
Henry Tilney: No! The discourtesy was all his. I-I have broken with my father, Catherine, I may never speak to him again.
Catherine Morland: What did he say to you?
Henry Tilney: Let me instead tell you what I said to him. I told him that I felt myself bound to you, by honor, by affection, and by a love so strong that nothing he could do could deter me from…
Catherine Morland: From what?
Henry Tilney: Before I go on, I should tell you there’s a pretty good chance he’ll disinherit me. I fear I may never be a rich man, Catherine.
Catherine Morland: Please, go on with what you were going to say!
Henry Tilney: Will you marry me, Catherine?
Catherine Morland: Yes! Yes I will! Yes!
Oh, Mr. Tilney. He’s kind of my favorite of the Austen Men. He’s capable of being just as sincere as Mr. Knightley, and he cares for Catherine just as much as any of the others, but he also has a brilliant sense of humor.
So, yeah. I’m basically the Tilney equivalent of the Darcy fans, because, as we all know, he understands muslins very well, and says beautifully intelligent things like this:
Anyway, enough Tilney fangirling. Back to the original subject of the post
In short the general unpleasantness of Darcy’s character can be attributed to this very simple fact:
HE IS A FOPPISH, UNGENTLEMANLY SNOB
And there you go, folks. That’s my opinion on the Austen Men, Mr. Tilney and Mr. Darcy in particular. 😀 I sincerely hope I haven’t bored you all to tears. Off my soapbox now. 🙂
Oh, by the way, just have to say, I went off on a Yarn And Book Hunting Expedition with some lovely friends of mine on Saturday, and found a 1970-1972 (Can’t tell which, it’s rather unclear) copy of The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian, by Lloyd Alexander, which was generally cool, but it’s a really good book. Go find a copy and read it, pronto. Thank you for being so obliging, and have a nice day! 🙂
My Dad emailed me a link to Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog this morning, saying that I’d probably like it. Oh good heavens, yes, I like it. I think I’m dying, over here.
“NOTES OF CHARACTER SKECCHES FROM THE GENERALE PROLOGE OF
THE PILGRIMES IN THE STERRES
Ther was a SMUGGELERE, and he the beste,
Wyth gowne of whit and snazzye litel veste.
He hadde a shippe that was a noble vessel
For in twelf parsekkes it had yronne the Qessel;
At customes houses nevir did he pause –
For resoned he ther was but litel cause:
To paye a tax or impost made hym wood,
And I seyde his opinioun was good:
Why sholde hys labour fatten up the paunches
Of bureaucrates that sitte upon their haunches
And tak their paye from honest merchauntes werke?
This good man kepte the officiales in the derke
And oft he wolde in his shippes floore hyde.
From oon ende of the sterres to the other syde,
He hadde yflowne, and seene many a wondere,
And yet he hadde no feare of Goddes thondere.
He seyde hys destinee was hys to make
Wyth blastere or wyth sleight or wyth wisecrake.
Of goold and eek of love he had a thirste,
In altercaciouns he ay shot firste.
Just when I thought Han Solo couldn’t seem any more ruggedly dashing…
“A WODWOS hadde he, and servantz namo,
A goodly furrye man, from hedde to sho.
Hys lokkes were longe and brown as aren a bearys,
Wher he hath sat, a man may knowe – there hair ys!
A bandolier he wore about hys sholdere
And of bowcastre boltes yt was the holdere.
He was a worthy frende yn tymes of stresse,
Thogh yif a man sholde beate him atte chesse
This gentil beest wolde th’arme rippe from the winner;
Therefor he wonne as oft as Bobbye Fischer.
IT MAKES CHEWIE SOUND LIKE BIGFOOT. OH, HELP, I’M LAUGHING SO HARD.
“And ther were wyth thes two good men, on shippe,
By plotte-twist yfalle yn felawshippe,
Fower otheres, of which I shalle anon yow telle,
(And all but oon shal lyve until the sequelle).
Bet we can guess who these are…
“A TRANSLATEUR was with hem, maad of goold,
He knewe ech langage newe and ech tonge oold.
A conversacioun right wel this man koud carrye
Wyth vaporators d’eaux in tonge binarye.
And yet he timorous was, and oft wolde hyde
If daunger or if batel did betyde.
Whan men did fighte, for feere he almost breste.
An oyle bath he loved al the beste.
Oh, my gosh.
“And wyth hym cam a smal ARTIFICER
Whos armour was as azure bright and cler
And eek as whit as ys the whales boon.
Althogh men have two eyen, he had but oon,
In maner of the creatur hight cyclopes.
He was so gret a clerk that ther no pope ys
That koude so muchel of calculaciouns
And ars-metrik, and werkes of alchemie,
And al the divers calculaciouns
By which to maken navigaciouns.
He was a verray parfit killer app,
And ofte in joye he cryed out “bweep, er-dap!”
“Bweep, er-dap!”? OH MY GOSH I REALLY AM GOING TO DIE OF LAUGHTER LIKE VIZZINI OR SOMETHING.
“A WHINY YOUTHE cam nexte, barleye a man,
With yelwe haire, tunique, and farmeres tan.
But aquaculture litel did he love,
He wolde been a pilot al above
And bullseye oump-rattes yn a nimble craft.
Saye, have ye evir been upon a rafte
And herde the wynde blowe fast over the wave
So that the winde did seme to sighe and rave?
Wyth just swich fierceness sigheth thys yonge man,
And whineth eek, and whingeth whan he kan,
For he ne lovede nat his occupacioun
And he wolde rathir go to Tashi stacioun.
“And wyth hym rood an oolde EREMITE,
Who knew the crafte of armes more than a lite;
He loved the forse syn he a youngling was,
And eek trouthe and honour, and kickinge arse.
Ful worthy was he in the auncient werres,
For in thos tymes he foughte on manye sterres:
At Theed citee he was, whanne it was won,
And many a metal foe he had outdon;
And eek he made the stande at Jeonosis
(the which, I trowe, was nat a bunch of roses!);
At Rhin-Vare had he foughte, and Terre Sool.
From Corpusant and Utapaux al hool
He cam aweye, unnethe wyth a scracche
Thogh on Mustphar he nerely met his macche.
A saber loved he beste, and thoghte it faster
And moore gentil than eny randome blaster.
Ful wys he was, no action-hero merely,
Thogh of paternitee he spak unclearlye.
I CAN’T EVEN ENGLISH, THIS IS SO FUNNY.
Ich shall sikerly han to followeth thys blog.
We had some interesting adventures today. I give you, the Charge of the Pain’d Brigade, with apologies to Lord Tennyson Alfred or whoever it was, who must surely be rolling in his grave:
Half an hour, half an hour,
Half an hour more,
All in the valley of Fried Chicken
Rode the first one.
“Forward the roasting pan!
Start on the chicken!” Mom said.
Into the valley of Pain
Rode the first one.
“Forward the ice water!”
There was a man dismay’d.
Not tho’ the siblings knew
Their sister had blunder’d.
Theirs not to question how,
Theirs not to question why
Theirs but to take heed and caution.
Into the valley of Pain
Rode the burnt one.
Clothesline to right of Maisy,
Clothesline to left of Maisy,
Wasp in front of her.
Volley’d and thunder’d,
Storm’d with stinger and venom,
Boldly she ran and well.
Away from the jaws of Death,
Away from the stingers from Hell,
Ran the next one.
Flash’d all the yard implements bare,
The mower growled as it turn’d in grass,
Sabring the clovers there
Charging an army while
All the wasps wondered.
Plunged in the cut-grass haze
Right thro’ the line they broke.
Human and wasp
Reel’d from the stinger stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d
Then Mom came inside:
Another one stung.
Wasp to right of Maisy,
Wasp to left of Mom,
Oven behind me.
Volley’d and thunder’d’
Storm’d at with sting and burn
While mother and sisters fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death
Into the mouth of Pain.
All that was left of us,
Left of out nerves.
When can this misery fade?
O the wild cries we made!
All the spared ones wondered.
Learn from the injuries we gain’d,
Learn from the melted ice,
Noble Uninjured four.
Or, in short, I burned a tail-less whale onto my hand while making fried chicken, Maisy got stung by a wasp on her shoulder, and Mom’s eye is swollen shut, also due to a wasp sting. How brilliantly fun.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go add more ice to my bread pan of water. Sigh.
Joshua, Benjamin and Elizabeth’s conversation over pumpkin bread:
Joshua: “D’you think people in Heaven eat manna?”
Elizabeth: “I don’t know. Maybe. Why?”
Joshua: “No reason. I was just wondering.”
Benjamin, vaguely: “What’s manna?”
Joshua: The… stuff. That rained down in the bible. It was edible.
Benjamin: “Oh, okay.”
Elizabeth: “What do you mean, ‘was edible’?”
Joshua: “It stopped raining manna.”
Joshua: “What if it rained gold?”
Elizabeth, in a matter-of-fact way: “Then people would be rich.”
Joshua: “What if it rained arkenstones?”
Benjamin, also in a matter-of-fact way: “Then people would be rich.”
Elizabeth: “What’s an arkenstone?”
Joshua: “The stone jewel thing from The Hobbit that’s worth a river of gold.”
Elizabeth: “Oh, yeah, that.”
Elizabeth: “How long of a river?”
Elizabeth: “How long of a river of gold is the arkenstone worth?”
Joshua: “I don’t know. A reasonably sized river, I guess. Longish.”
Elizabeth: “What if the river connected to the ocean?”
Joshua: “Then the arkenstone would be worth an ocean of gold.”
Elizabeth: “What if the river split up?”
Joshua, flabbergasted: “I don’t know. Maybe there would be two rivers of gold.”
Elizabeth: “How deep is the river?”
Then the conversation veered off to what horrible consequences would follow Benjamin tipping his chair off the ground.
I think we can safely say that Elizabeth has inherited Mom’s detail-orientated personality.
Another book hangover.
Lloyd Alexander’s last book. It was published posthumously in August 2007, three months after he died in May.
Lloyd Alexander had a talent for choosing the right words, and making the story go the right way that very few people in this world have. Hugh Howey has a bit of that talent, the capability to spin a story out of well-placed words and ideas (i.e., killing as many characters as he can get away with, with a sense of reckless abandon) that will keep people happy, and maybe bring a few tears. Cool, right? Killing dozens, hundreds of characters over the course of nine books with thoughts only of ‘How can I use this to make the book even more awesome’ is cool, right?
Yes, the Silo Saga is awesome. It’s one of my favorite sci-fi series. But I bawled my eyes out and bombarded a friend of mine with emotional emails every time something bad happened in Dust. And a lot of bad things happen in Dust. The kind of things that make you want to throttle a pillow, or maybe a loaf of bread or something like that.
Donald dies, Darcy dies, Lukas, Sims, Nelson, Peter Billings, Marsha, Shirly, Marcus and Anna die. All those characters are killed apparently with aforementioned reckless abandon in one book.
Lloyd Alexander never did that, in all the books of his I’ve read. He knew how to keep people happy.
© the Unshelved people
Not a lot of authors can keep everybody happy, but Lloyd Alexander could. Everything that happened was taken seriously. When Rhun and Coll die in The High King, they die honorably, and give Taran a reason to succeed in his mission, so that he can finish Rhun’s wall, tend to Coll’s garden, and restore life to the Red Fallows. When Carlo’s map from Cheshim is stolen, it is for a reason. The stories Shira tells Carlo are important.
Lloyd Alexander was one of the best writers the twentieth and twenty-first centuries ever saw. The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio is the pinnacle of his work, the arkenstone.
And it has kind of broken me. Sobbing, face-in-pillow, death-grip broken me. It is a beautiful book. In Evelyn and her friends’ terms, it has a shiny/beautiful soul.
I think I’ll finish Snuff and place holds on the Vesper Holly series today. After all, there’s nothing more amusing than Sam Vimes being bossed around by his wife.