Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mr. Darcy is a Very Important Character

I had the most wonderful experience last night: I read the first couple chapters of Pride and Prejudice with a first-timer.

Lee has a 12-year-old sister, Danielle, who loves to read. I often tell her that someday she will have to read Pride and Prejudice, as all young girls should, so I was delighted when she announced that P&P was next on her list. A few days later I ran to Barnes and Noble to pick out a copy for her. There was no way I would let her borrow mine because she needed one of her very own. You know, so she can draw hearts on the page(s) where Mr. Darcy proposes or dog-ear her favorite pages for easy reference.

So I'm over visiting a couple weeks ago and we get out her P&P and started reading together. Who wouldn't love to read P&P without a veritable NUT looking over her shoulder, clarifying conversations, explaining old spellings, properly pronouncing locations (Darby-sure), giving appropriate tone, and assuring her which characters are actually important (Mr. Bingley) and which aren't so much (Mrs. Long)?!

Then last week Danielle gives me a call. P&P is hard. (That's true. I started with Sense and Sensbility at her age and after a chapter decided I should wait another year.) Could we have some regular phone dates to read it together? HELL YES!

She might come to regret this soon since I like to pause and discuss the social structures of the time, what "Austen is really doing," and make sure she gets all the jokes, but she's going to be so ready when they actually get to this in school. Or maybe I'm just molding another English major. Both excellent possible results.

But the best part is that Danielle has no idea what happens. None. None at all. It has been about a decade since I first fell for Darcy's subtle charms but I think even then I had some idea that Darcy and Elizabeth were THE couple. Like when you read Wuthering Heights or watch Gone with the Wind (or read it), you've heard of Catherine and Heathcliff, Scarlett and Rhett. I think I had some ideas about this Elizabeth and Darcy, but Danielle has none and I love it!

Last night Danielle asked, "Why is Mr. Darcy an important character? He's mean."

Just trust me Danielle, Mr. Darcy is a very important character. We'll find out why in another 100 pages or so.

Is it sad that I know which moment in the five-hour film this is from? He's watching Elizabeth play the piano at Rosings. It's one of my favorite scenes.


Jill said...

mr. darcy, swooooooooooooooooooooon! he is my literary lover. people can have edward cullen, i want mr. darcy.

i'm a huge fan of the kiera knightley pride and prejudice, but i must say i'm stoked to see a pic of the bbc version here! i own both because i love p&p in all forms and fashion.

le sigh. now i have to switch back to real life, where i love my husband who is great but not nearly as rich, thoughtful, slightly arrogant, and incredible as mr. darcy.

WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

I feel that Lee is more of my metaphorical Mr. Darcy. To do characteristic comparisons, I think Lee and I have more of an Emma/Mr. Knightly dynamic. I'm a little crazy and Lee's very well-grounded.

Also, I saw Matthew MacFadyen at a play in London and I might have spent the whole time poking my friend and giddily whispering "It's Mr. Darcy." My professor (I was studying abroad.) got me his autograph. It's pretty sweet.

Amy Jackson said...

Katie, I need you to read P&P with me too.

WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

Amy -- If you're free on Tuesday nights we might be able to conference call. We're only a few chapters in. ;)

Tatyana said...

I'll never stop wondering why Pride and Prejudice is THE book and Mr. Darcy is THE man. But i love it with all my heart.