How I wish I could say that I was Elizabeth Bennet; Witty, Pretty, and Headstrong. Don't we all want to be Lizzie? She's got such a head for the right thing to say at that exact moment, while being able to learn from her mistakes.
Typically, I get Fanny Price, the quiet observer in Mansfield Park who has been in love with her best friend for most of her life.
As I get older I sometimes think that I'm Anne Elliot, the responsible middle daughter of a vain, pompous spendthrift in Persuasion, who spends most of the book regretting a lost love.
If I were going to be truly honest with myself, though, I'd be none of these characters.
My book club read Pride & Prejudice awhile back, and in rereading it, I really started to watch a certain character. He was shy, intelligent, honorable, and almost too willing to give in to first impressions.
It's Mr. Darcy. I'm totally Mr. Darcy. I really understand him on a personal level.
Let's look at the facts. Mr. Darcy is:
- Shy. Upon his first visit to Meryton, he only speaks to his own friends, Mr. and Miss Bingley. He doesn't break away from them or even step out to talk to the woman he finds prettiest in the entire room (Lizzie).
- Stubborn. He stubbornly clings to his initial opinions of people, and even tells Lizzie that once his good opinion is lost on someone, it is lost forever. It's one of the most important quotes on his character.
- More extroverted around close family and friends. He dotes on his younger sister, Georgiana. Lizzie's entire opinion of him changes after speaking to her as well as his housekeeper, who have nothing but the best things to say about him. He's seen (in the 2005 film version) laughing when Georgiana is around, and Lizzie can see what a friendship they have.
- Shy. Okay. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. My dad's favorite story to tell about me was the first time I went roller skating, I went around twice, watched everyone else skate for the next two hours, but the next time I went out, I was skating quickly around the rink. I'm very heavily guarded in my outward opinions until I get to know someone and gauge how they'll react. Not to say I care about other's opinions of me, but I do care about looking like an idiot if I don't think things through. Also, I check out EVERYTHING before I go through with something. I visited Stephens three times before I applied. I texted my friend, who is a groomer at a Petsmart in Texas (she used to work at one here), about policies from her experience before I scheduled an appointment for Chuck to get his nails clipped.
- Stubborn. It's almost a family trait to hold grudges. And my grudges can be legendary (There's a short list of people who are actually dead to me. They come up to me on the street and start talking, I will look right through them and not speak. Immature? Maybe, but I've been burned horribly and refuse to go through that again).
- More extroverted around close family and friends. In true introvert fashion, I'm very outgoing around people I'm comfortable with. I can be the biggest goofball with my beloved friends and family. They know how to bring me out of me shell, and dropping me in the middle of an unfamiliar situation is not the way to do it.
I've always liked Darcy, and I think that's what people love about characters, especially when they're so complex: They see bits of themselves there. It's important in writing stories that really speak to the audience to make them well-rounded and somewhat mysterious.
Peeling back the layers of a character is like meeting them in real life. You don't know everything about them until you get to know them. And the prejudice surrounding Mr. Darcy is exactly why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
- Which famous literary character are you? (I'm always Jo March. WIN!)
- Who do you love best in Jane Austen?