Darcy’s first proposal

Colin Firth has often said he is most proud of his performance as Lord Wessex in Shakespeare in Love. Recently, he said of this character: “I love the boredom of the vacant, mediocre man who has got everything, a huge amount of money, spoiled, and this kind of blithe, lazy cruelty that he has.” [The Australian, May 10, 2008]

Although the quote is about Lord Wessex, I think it resounds with Mr. Darcy as well. Before meeting Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy was a mediocre man. He executed his roles as a landowner and a brother well. But he didn’t really care about people, other than his sister, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Bingley. He didn’t seem to be fond of many other people (including Lady Catherine, his cousin Anne, or even Miss Bingley), and usually was outright disdainful. I think he was a bit bored, vacant, blithe and lazy, like Lord Wessex.

I often wonder what would have happened if Lizzy had accepted his first proposal at Rosings. If she had, I think he would have stayed on the same path of selfishness and pride. Their marriage probably wouldn’t have been very happy, because it wouldn’t have been based on mutual respect, esteem and honor. He would be the acknowledge superior in all things.

Only through her refusal, and his later attempts to win her regard, does he lose his selfishness and become a better man.



3 responses to “Darcy’s first proposal

  1. I do agree with you to some degree. I think that he was bored – but I think that it really camafloged the man that was underneath. I think that he was a better man but was hiding because of all that he was enduring with the “matchmaking mammas” of the ton. What I believe is that he did not realize how much he was hiding who he really was and how jaded and cynical he had become. I think that Lizzy opened his eyes to that. I think that happens to all of us to some degree. We know what we think and feel inside but we are not always aware of what we are showing on the outside. Lizzy bumped his vener and made him stand outside of himself and look again. That was not a pretty sight. I also think that it was to some degree his reaction to her rejection that also surprised him. When he realized how negative that was – it made him take a closer look at himself and ask why. When he did that, he was able to open himself up again and let more of his true inner self come out to the surface.

  2. thekoolaidmom

    I think some of what went on with Darcy is that he had been terribly hurt by the trust broken by Wickham. Wickham should have been reputable at least with the Darcy family, he’d grown up with them. I think the “matchmaking mammas” were probably irksome for him, especially those who disregarded the manners he was used to. I think he was also, in general, a bit shy and uncomfortable around new people. Nowadays, he might be diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder.

    It is an interesting thought: What if she had accepted the first proposal. Forgetting how Darcy would be, how could Elizabeth respect herself for accepting his statements of her being his inferior and from a family of ill-bred people.

  3. To me this whole scene is about the ability (or some might say the audacity) of a woman to exercise free will and show inner strength in a social situation where she has no power. Darcy is right to expect a positive response from Lizzie – he is as good as it gets, and she does not have many options. The fact that she has a strong enough self esteem to stand up to him makes him realize that maybe there are other factors he has not taken into account. This scene always moves me because Lizzie shows great defiance and independent thought, which are the keys to freedom.

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