i just read a washington post article on romcoms aging poorly due to the pushiness (and oft-stalkery conduct) of the male characters therein, and it got me thinking about pride and prejudice, and specifically darcy saying, “one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”
because, like, that’s the seldom-portrayed romantic dream in the patriarchal hellscape that is our world, isn’t it?
a dude being willing to say, “i understand if you don’t feel the same way about me, and i’ll leave you alone forever about this if my attention is unwanted.”
so simple, yet so wonderful in its basic human decency
and dudes to this day wonder why women still swoon over darcy
Note also: Elizabeth turns down Darcy’s first proposal, and in the process, accuses him of doing some stuff he did not do (and also some stuff he totally did).
The next day, he surprises her on her walk. He hands her a letter, asks that she read it, and then takes off.
When this happened to me after I had turned someone down IN REAL LIFE, the letter contained a passionate argument to the tune of “actually you’re wrong and you do like me and you should go out with me” and it was creepy af.
Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth starts with: “Be not alarmed, Madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments, or renewal of those offers, which were last night so disgusting to you”. He goes on to set the record straight about the stuff he didn’t do (as well as the stuff he did) which is *actually relevant* to Elizabeth. And he, as promised, doesn’t romance her further.
It’s totally bizarre that even now, this can be considered unusually great dude behaviour.
Darcy’s first proposal: “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Darcy’s second proposal: “One word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”
His whole arc in the book is about learning to consider other people’s feelings and not just his own, but the fact that it’s expressed via who gets to talk and who is told to shut up is so, so telling. The first time around, he imposes his voice on her whether she wants it or not. The second time, he asks how she feels, and in exchange, offers her the gift of his silence.
And yeah, the fact that dudes still! have! not! learned! this! lesson! is exhausting.
How surprising is it that Pride and Prejudice was written by a woman, when many romantic comedies are produced and directed by men?