A Letter to Jane Austen
You don’t mind if I call you Jane, do you? Good. Feel free to call me Elizabeth. Or Liz if you prefer. Now, we need to talk.
Are you aware of the craze you incited when you wrote a certain character by the name of Mr. Darcy? Do you know how many women spend their free time dreaming of him, imagining meeting him, and reading about him? No? Well, I should tell you that it’s gotten a little out of hand.
Mr. Darcy has become the one romantic hero almost all women can agree on. He is the ideal other men are compared to and the fantasy no one can live up to. What were you thinking?
Okay, he’s smart and cultured. We can appreciate a smart guy. But then you had to go and make him loyal and strong and steadfast. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also incredibly handsome and tall. Did you know I’ve always had a thing for tall guys?
Add to all of that his fancy house in town and a gorgeous, magical, un-mortgaged estate in the country. Were you trying to drive everyone crazy? To taunt us with the perfect man that will never really exist?
Just to show he’s not too perfect, you make him rude and insulting when we first meet him, but still loyal and intelligent. While this may seem like a flaw, it is actually an ingenious plot designed to show us just how great he truly is.
Because as soon as the woman he loves points out his faults, he gets mad (proving he’s hot blooded – which just makes him more attractive) and then he gets reasonable (see aforementioned intelligence and steadfastness). He learns from the past and from her and becomes worthy of her.
Did you hear that, Jane? A man, who has everything going for him and women falling all over him, changes his behavior to make himself worthy of a woman. A woman who, by the way, is considered undeserving of him by society at large and who has rejected him vehemently. He has no guarantee he’ll ever even see her again!
Really, Jane? Really?
Then, this great catch turned all-around great guy, delivers the grandest of grand gestures and we go from serious like to all out love. What were you trying to accomplish here? Was there a ‘create the perfect man’ contest? (You win, by the way.) Were you playing out your own fantasy? Or was it all just a big cosmic accident and you had no idea how he’d catch on – and still be going strong 200 years later?
Listen, Jane, I don’t want to be rude, I’d like to think we’re friends of a sort, but you really ought to lighten up a bit on the ‘perfect man’ thing. “There’s something pleasant about his mouth when he speaks.” Seriously? We all know what that’s code for.
You couldn’t make him shorter, or a little chubby, maybe with a bald spot and a missing tooth? Or maybe he could be terrified of spiders and snore like Daffy Duck.
Something! Give me something to make him just a little less perfect and a little more resistible. I’m begging you!
I hope you’ll take this under advisement.