You know, I actually feel a bit badly for Colin Firth.
Why this sympathy, when he is a man who seems to have it all? I’m sure he is a nice chap–witty, intelligent, compassionate. He has a beautiful and talented wife whom he seems to adore, and a very nice family. He is a fine actor with a long list of varied roles and accomplishments. He is a global citizen who takes social causes to heart. Oh yeah, and he is not bad on the eyes. I’m sure if ever I met him (yeah, right), I’d think he is a great guy.
But I feel badly for him because he really isn’t Mr. Darcy. He never was, he never will be, and, truthfully, he probably never wanted to be. He tapped into the psyche and motivations a character named Mr. Darcy almost fifteen years ago for a role, and did it remarkably well. But he is not Mr. Darcy.
And yet, he has become the visual image — the embodiment — of this dream man that has enthralled women for two centuries. Mr. Darcy is a transcendent man who defies space and time, as heart stopping in 2008 as in 1811. But he doesn’t really exist. He. Doesn’t. Really. Exist.
No man is Mr. Darcy. Perhaps that’s why we love him so much — he is a mysterious, unattainable, almost ethereal man. Mr. Darcy is a product of our imagination; the culmination of what we think a man is and what we want a man to be. No man can live up to that, not even the esteemable Colin Firth.
I think there are two aspects of Mr. Darcy that we love most. (OK, maybe three, but handsomeness is a given.) First — he is a man who can change. We hold on to the dream that we can make a person — namely, our significant other — change. That our love will instigate the change we hope to see. A proud, disagreeable, and emotionless jerk of a man can be changed into a passionate love-sick fool willing to throw caution to the wind in order to love us.
We also love Mr. Darcy becuase he tells us what our soul wants to hear. It was epitomized by another Mr. Darcy — Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary — that we are loved just the way we are. Our souls yearn for acceptance, and mostly what we hear (or probably what we tell ourselves) is that we aren’t smart enough, aren’t pretty enough, aren’t talented enough, aren’t worthy enough, aren’t fill-in-the-blank enough to be loved passionately as we are.
Mr. Darcy is most vivid in our imagination because he allows us the hear that we are ardently admired and loved. Just the way we are.