It is a fairly common agreement that throughout a great length of the beginning of Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen presents Mr. Darcy as proud, shrewd, mean, and in many senses a jerk. It is this character that convinces Elizabeth Bennett that he is a vile man, one of the worst. This is fine. The problem begins when we are led to believe that Mr. Darcy is actually a good person deep down, and that he has changed. This is a very real flaw of the book that has caused an unrealistic fantasy of women that they will not let go. The end result has been countless devastations, broken hearts, and failed relationships that were doomed from the start.
So, why is Mr. Darcy not all that great in the end? Some reasons are personal opinion, while others are analytical holes in the plot.
1. Mr. Darcy is not loyal in the end. He was friends with Wickham when he chooses to be. He disregarded Wickham as a child, and only when he saw what he could obtain by helping Wickham, did he return to talking to Wickham. He pretended to be Wickham’s friend so he could obtain the hand Elizabeth. His payment for the Wickham wedding is wildly regarded as generous. I contend that it is deceitful and manipulative. He spent money he already had to convince Elizabeth of his love. Not only this, but he did so by sneaking his way into approval of Lizzy’s syster Lydia. This is an age old trick of men–to convince the family of your interest that they are good by giving them what they want. Again, this is manipulation.
2. Women contend that the reason Mr. Darcy is so wildly admired is because he listens and changes. This is a very big misconception. Mr. Darcy listens when he discovers a way in which to impress Elizabeth. He realizes he can win Elizabeth’s affection by being something he is not. This is not a character change of heart, it a man pretending or acting. Again, this is manipulation, not love.
3. He never changed his condescending speech or tone really. By the first proposal it is apparent, but in the second, he says he loves Lizzy, but if she does not take him, this would be the last time he would speak to her. The problem with this is that HE ALREADY SAID THAT BEFORE!! He does not take no for an answer.
4. He is a stalker. How convenient he just always happens to show up where Lizzy is. The first time is fine–random acquaintances happen often. But what about the Collins house? Ok, yes, he had family ties to Lady Catherine, so yes, he had reason to be at the house–but he intentionally went to Lizzie’s bedroom. How do you not know that is a private room in which a lady does not want to be bothered? He even says, “I did not wish to disturb your privacy.” Then what was he doing in her bedroom?
5. He viciously punishes those who do not agree with him, and lets his emotion control his action. This is evident in his breaking up of Jane & Bingley.
6. If pride is the flaw of Darcy that needed to be changed, then women can date any man they choose; every man has pride. Pride is not exclusive to Mr. Darcy. Besides this, pride can be both a flaw and a virtue.
7. Darcy’s character (supposedly) changed in only a year’s time. Character improvements takes far more time than one year, At the Collins house, he shows his effort to change. Yes, many men have tried to change themselves–but that is not a character improvement. His attempts were very forced, and quite obvious that while he was trying, he was likely to return to his former self.
8. Mr. Darcy never really changed that much. Lizzie Bennett says “he is not proud, he is as stubborn as I am!” These are the same thing with different words–it is not a character improvement, it only shows Darcy does not give up. Like how he does not take no for an answer. Stubborn just means he won’t stop until he has what he wants–basically a selfish man–not selfless. Even so, selfishness is again a trait exhibited by every human being on earth; if selfishness is the jerk factor, then women can date any man.
9. Any man who is as persistent as Mr. Darcy in modern society are met with legal threats of restraining orders, not admiration.
10. The book’s view is that money is a key factor to love and happiness. I would strongly contest this. I would imagine that Lydia & Wickham would have been quite the happier couple, so long as they worked together and worked hard to overcome their obstacles. Lizzie’s goals would always have to be to convince people of how misunderstood Darcy is, tolerate the insults thrown at her by those who despise Darcy, spend her time in constant agony over when Darcy tells her off instead of praise her. That sounds like a miserable life, not a loving one.