Jane Austen made it clear that Elizabeth’s parents were not well matched, and Mr. Bennet confirms this when he seeks to dissuade her from marrying Darcy if she cannot respect her “partner in life.”

Darcy was a very different character from Elizabeth, more sombre and reserved, perhaps because he had become used to keeping his own counsel, and not sharing his emotions. It therefore seemed wrong to use the much lighter style writing employed to such brilliant effect in Pride and Prejudice.

I am sure that everyone who has read and enjoyed Jane Austen’s novel has their own particular favourite passages in the book, and I used many of mine in Darcy’s Story. As her novel was first published in several “parts,” I also used quotations from Pride and Prejudice to introduce each of the seven parts in my book.

Having Darcy recall past conversations was one way to show the more serious and reflective aspects of his character, and emphasise passages from Jane Austen’s novel which are especially relevant to Darcy’s Story.

Jane Austen described her hero at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice as being a wealthy but proud young man who moved only in the most elevated circles. Wealth and an emphasis on social class had been paramount in his upbringing.

As he said in Pride and Prejudice, “As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit....I was spoilt by my parents, who . . . allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing, to care for none beyond my own family circle, to think meanly of all the rest of the world, to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.”

Although Darcy came from a grander and wealthier background than Elizabeth Bennet, she was more able to cope with, and was more confident in, new social situations than he was. I saw Darcy as someone who could only enjoy life with someone very different from the superior and overconfident females, such as Caroline Bingley, whom he finds intimidating and superficial.

The Bingley sisters were fixed in their views, with a critical and derogatory approach to anyone who did not move in their own “circle.” Only Darcy’s friend, their brother Charles, took people as he found them, perhaps remembering how his family’s fortune had been made in trade.

I felt that Darcy seemed to be one person at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, and quite another at the end. People do not really change that much, so it was more likely that he had been acting a part to some extent, concealing some inhibition or aspect of his real character.

Jane Austen had Darcy say in her novel that “. ...I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself...My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.” His wariness of Mr. Wickham, son of his late father’s steward, was confirmed by Wickham’s attempts to get more than he was due from Darcy’s father’s estate. That wariness had developed into dislike and distrust before Wickham tried to elope with Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, to get control of her fortune.

Darcy’s disdain for the Court at St. James and his dislike of mixing with people strange to him seemed to be due to the fact that he was not at ease in unfamiliar company, and envied other young men’s ability to converse with and charm the opposite sex, rather than that he was naturally unpleasant to other people.

I took this as my cue, that he was envious of the easy manners of many of the people he knew, especially the men of about his own age such as Wickham, his cousin Fitzwilliam, and his friend Bingley.

Darcy seemed to me to be a strong person. He could take swift action when he chose, as when he resolved the elopement of Elizabeth’s sister Lydia with Wickham.

Jane Austen herself describes Darcy as being a good brother to Georgiana, as being at ease with people he knows well, and as being generous to the poor in Derbyshire. If you like, his unattractive manners in the earlier part of the story concealed a very pleasant character waiting to emerge, if the right person came along to help him escape his haughty relations and gain confidence that he could find the happiness he sought in marriage.

I decided that Darcy was unlikely to have reacted favourably to the news that Elizabeth might have married Mr. Collins, since Jane Austen made it clear that they had very little in common except for Darcy’s formidable aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh.

But he was likely to learn about that proposal, sooner or later, from someone in the Bennet family who was aware of it. But Mr. Collins did do Darcy an unintentional favour, by telling his aunt about the impending marriage between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. His concern that a union between her nephew and Elizabeth might follow led her to her famous interview with Elizabeth at Longbourn, and her subsequent visit to London to try and dissuade Darcy from the idea.

Every novel has a turning point, and Darcy’s Story is no exception. Darcy’s sister Georgiana seemed to me to have reached marriageable age in a story set in the 19th century, as had Elizabeth’s youngest sister Lydia. Georgiana was therefore at the point when she was changing from being Darcy’s responsibility to becoming more his contemporary. So talking to Georgiana about his troubled frame of mind, after his first unsuccessful proposal to Elizabeth, fitted the story, and I made that the turning point in Darcy’s “journey” to win the hand of the woman he loves.

About the Author

Janet Aylmer is the pen name of an English Jane Austen enthusiast who lives in Bath.

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