What is it about the trouser interest in 'Pride and Prejudice' that so captivates women? Surely not just the literarily incorrect sight of our hero in a wet shirt (the small screen Colin Firth about to be outdripped by Matthew MacFadyen in the cinema).
If Pride And Prejudice has an extraordinary hold on the imagination of women - and every survey suggests it does - one reason for our obsession is the nature of its hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Darcy has endless vulnerability in the novel - and his coldness is merely the cover of a shy, proud man. It's precisely the apparent aloofness of Darcy - think smouldering volcanoes under icecaps - that is crucial to his appeal.
Bennet's treatment of Darcy thus bears out the contention of books like The Rules about the relations between the sexes - treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen - because we are quite conscious that had she pursued him rather than mocked him he would not have found himself attracted to her. For a man in his position it is very necessary that he should be chastened by encountering a woman who is indifferent to his looks and status. As Bennet finally declares, "The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of odious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you because I was so unlike them." Spot on, Miss Elizabeth.
The beauty of Darcy is that he reassures women of their transformative powers. He is a reminder that the right woman may bring out the emotional depths in a reserved man and can humble the pride of a rich one.
Truly spot on, Ms.Melanie.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Spot on, Melanie: