It’s been two centuries since Jane Austen first published “Pride and Prejudice,” and we still can’t get enough of the classic love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Our culture still loves reading Jane Austen’s novels because parts of dating culture haven't changed over the past couple of centuries and because, duh, we love Austen’s heroes, especially Mr. Darcy.
By the end of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is the perfect gentleman, the Prince Charming type that we all hope to marry someday. He’s witty and caring and a man of action (and rich) – and we can’t help but wonder what he’d be like if he lived today. Here are some qualities to look for when looking for your modern Mr. Darcy.
Darcy lived in an era where chivalry was expected of men, something that our culture is lacking nowadays. The feminist movement has convinced women that chivalry is sexist, but we’d argue that chivalry helps women by helping them identify a gentleman from some jerk who isn’t worth her time.
Darcy was a chivalrous gentleman in Pride and Prejudice. When he saves Elizabeth’s sister Lydia’s reputation by persuading Mr. Wickham to marry her after they run away, Darcy doesn't want anyone to know what he's done. Darcy not only pays for their wedding, but settles Wickham’s debts and secures him a job. The fact that he didn’t tell Elizabeth about it shows that he’s a good man and wasn’t doing it just to impress her, but out of principle.
The truth is, chivalry is sexy. While the modern Mr. Darcy might not save your family from social ruin, he wouldn’t hesitate to open the door for you, pull out your chair on the first date, offer you his jacket if you get cold, and make sure you get home safely without expecting anything in return. The modern Mr. Darcy would treat a woman like a lady, and you shouldn’t settle for a guy who does anything less.
He’s a Man of Action
Mr. Darcy is a man of action, someone who knows his own mind and what he wants and is willing to make it happen. He is quick to act in the defense of his friends, like trying to protect Bingley from marrying Jane, and doesn't hesitate when he knows someone needs his help.
Although Darcy struggles with his attraction to Elizabeth, he still pursues her for nearly a year, even after she rejects his proposal. We then see him work to improve himself and overcome his arrogance and the prejudice he holds for Elizabeth’s family.
Elizabeth forces Darcy to realize his own arrogance and he actively works to become a better person and be less judgmental. We see the proof of his growth in how he welcomes Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle to his estate with friendly hospitality when they unexpectedly visit Pemberley.
Traditional masculinity encourages men to be virtuous leaders. The modern Mr. Darcy embodies traditional masculinity by taking the lead in every aspect of his life. He works hard at his job, is capable of planning a romantic date, and provides for his family (more on that later).
He Respects Women
When Elizabeth first meets Darcy, he seems cocky and aloof (because he is). But through his conversations with Elizabeth, he comes to realize his arrogance and leaves it behind.
Even though Darcy views Elizabeth as financially and socially inferior to him, he still respects her as a woman. He goes out of his way to have conversations with Elizabeth and learn about her interests. Darcy doesn’t just see Elizabeth as a pretty little thing he can turn into his wife, but a woman he wants to get to know. He values her opinion (even when he disagrees.)
Though the modern Mr. Darcy recognizes the fundamental differences between men and women, he respects women and views them as equal. This is fundamentally different from a male feminist, who's most likely using his "women's empowerment" spiel to get laid.
He sees women as more than sex objects and doesn’t expect sex as a reward for being "nice." From her likes, dislikes, hobbies, and dreams, he wants to know every aspect of the woman he’s pursuing. He values her opinion on everything from which type of milk is superior to what she thinks of political and social issues. He goes out of his way to get to know a woman, showing that he’s interested in a relationship instead of a fleeting hookup.
He’s Loyal and Devoted to His Family
Darcy takes care of his own. It’s not something he talks about, but we see it in his actions and hear it from those close to him. Darcy’s only living family is his younger sister, Georgiana, who he saves from Wickham’s attempt to marry her and scam her out of her inheritance. (Wickham has serious Tinder Swindler energy.) Besides protection, Darcy also gives his sister thoughtful gifts: Georgiana loves to play piano and sing, and Darcy gives her a new piano. This isn’t a one-off gift, as Darcy’s housekeeper tells Elizabeth that “Whatever can give his sister any pleasure, is sure to be done in a moment. There is nothing he would not do for her.”
We hear more of Darcy’s goodness from Darcy’s housekeeper while Elizabeth is touring Pemberley. The housekeeper asserts that Darcy is “the best landlord and the best master that ever lived” and that he is “affable to the poor.” She claims all of his tenants and servants like him, and that he’s always been kind. She says, “I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him since he was four years old.”
The modern Mr. Darcy is no different – he’s loyal to his family and abides by a strong moral code. As Mr. Darcy’s housekeeper spoke fondly of him, you will likely hear good things about him from his close friends and family. Nobody knows a man as well as his close friends and family, something to remember while looking for your modern Mr. Darcy.
Though he shows his loyalty through his words, he also shows it through his actions. Whether he takes time off work to care for a sick relative, takes time out of his busy schedule to have dinner with his parents once a week, talks to his younger sister about school, or makes sure his friends don’t get into trouble when they go out, the modern Mr. Darcy will never give you a reason to doubt his loyalty.
The main reason why we love Mr. Darcy centuries after the initial publication of Pride and Prejudice is that he’s romantic, but that doesn’t take away from the relatability of his and Elizabeth’s relationship.
Darcy is willing to put in the work and to persevere and continue to hope and pursue Elizabeth. His willingness to grow for her sake and to humbly ask her to marry him a second time makes us swoon every time.
The modern Mr. Darcy is a romantic and ignores the men who say being romantic and treating women with respect is simp behavior. He’s man enough to recognize the value in romance. He goes beyond giving you flowers and candy (though we still love that, and bonus points when he gives you your favorites) and recognizes that the little things add up to something more. He’s sentimental and remembers days that are important to you, like birthdays of friends and family members. He supports you in your job and encourages you to pursue hobbies that make you happy, like writing poetry or baking. Though big romantic gestures are nice, it’s also the sweet everyday things that mean the most and show how romantic he is.
Two centuries have passed since the initial publication of Pride and Prejudice, but the love for the story and the characters in it are very much alive. If you want to find your modern Mr. Darcy, be sure to look for a man of action who’s chivalrous, values you as his equal, and is loyal, family-oriented, and romantic.
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