Okay, so I’ve been trying to figure out what makes Mr. Darcy stand out in the crowd of romantic heroes. Among Austen’s leading men he’s definitely the biggest star. Other romantic heroes from Austen’s period and from ours just don’t have the same powerful grip on our imagination. So, what sets him apart from other romantic heroes? Here are some of thoughts:
1. He is steadfast – he doesn’t give up on her, even after she turns him down.
2. He is willing to overlook her family — yeah, it takes him a while to get there, but he must love her an awful lot to put up with Mrs. Bennet, Lydia and Wickham. Talk about difficult in-laws…
3. He likes her intelligence – This is a biggie. He does think she has fine eyes, but what he really likes is her wit, cleverness, lively conversation. Wouldn’t every woman like to be appreciated for her brain?
4. He values her backbone – One of the first things he notices about her is that she stands up to him. I always assume most women treat him like Miss Bingley, fawning over him and agreeing with everything he says. Darcy likes Elizabeth because she’s her own person.
5. He defends her to other people – Isn’t this a female fantasy? A guy who will tell other people (including catty women) you’re beautiful and smart when they’re criticizing you.
6. He fixes problems for her — Yeah she generally takes care of her own issues, but she can’t fix the Lydia/Wickham thing. He wades into the scandal for her sake without even asking for any credit.
7. He’s played by Colin Firth (and that other guy who’s kind of cute too).
But the biggest reason of all: He is willing to change his behavior for her. He admits he was wrong and tries to be a better person so he can deserve her.
I think this is the characteristic that sets Darcy apart from most other romantic heroes. Yes, many of them change and make sacrifices for their loved ones, but few make the kind of deep alterations to their character that Darcy does. Deciding you’ll give up your womanizing and gambling for her sake just doesn’t compare. He essentially starts as a selfish character and evolves into one whose primary consideration is the happiness of the woman he loves. Who wouldn’t love that guy?
Okay, so that’s my take. What does everyone else think?