Whenever I engage in a discussion of the relative merits of Jane Austen as a writer, the conversation inevitably returns to the subject of Mr. Darcy. Even if I’m trying to talk about Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion – you know, one of Austen’s other novels – Mr. Darcy is always mentioned. Usually, the person who brings up Mr. Darcy is the one who doesn’t like Austen, and his argument boils down to the same thing: “Austen is only popular because women think Mr. Darcy is hot.”
OF COURSE! It all makes sense now! Our admiration of Austen’s writing has nothing, nothing to do with the way she portrays a close, sisterly relationship in Sense and Sensibility, or the homage/satire on the Gothic novel in Northanger Abbey, or the mature story about love and forgiveness in Persuasion, or the hilarious original Mommie Dearest story in Lady Susan, or the pointed commentary on hypochondria and gossip in her unfinished Sanditon. It’s ALL ABOUT MR. DARCY. “I watched Colin Firth crawl out of the lake and I jizzed! in! my pants!”
Right, okay. I could – and possibly will – write an entire thesis praising the merits of Jane Austen, but that post is for another time. For now, I’m going to entertain the idea that Mr. Darcy is the source of Austen’s popularity.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Darcy is the main reason women love Pride and Prejudice. I counter with, “If that is the case, what’s wrong with that?” Continue reading