There are so many layers to Darcy’s personality: arrogance, vulnerability, determination, loyalty, honesty to a fault, love of family, pride (sometimes to a fault also), shy, lack of comfort with those he is not acquainted with, a sense of justice, sensitivity, and a lack of tact (i.e. his first proposal to Elizabeth). Like many of us, he has a number of different traits as well as several that could be conflicting as well.
I found Matthew Macfadyen’s comments concerning Darcy very insightful.
“I love you. Most ardently” (Mr. Darcy) “Reading the script it’s clear the moments when he’s vulnerable. The scene in the rain, until then he’s just unlikable. He doesn’t say anything nice about anybody, he doesn’t look at anybody. He makes a little bit of an effort in the scene at the piano when he explains why he can’t talk to people. But it’s the scene in the rain, that car crash scene where everything goes so badly when he tells her he loves her, that’s when you like him.”
That’s also the time we can commiserate with him as Elizabeth shreds him for his arrogance and total lack of awareness of how he’s hurt her feelings with the comments about her station and, especially, her family. He’s totally clueless, at times, when he opens his mouth without thinking first of how his words will be received. Quite a few of us can recognize that trait. 🙂
I love the Pride and Prejudice 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. There are so many layers to Darcy, and I think Macfadyen captures all of them. For me, it would be hard not to love someone like that. And I agree with the following quote.
“Matthew Macfadyen finds a human dimension in the taciturn landowner Fitzwilliam Darcy that was missing in earlier, more conventionally heroic portrayals. Mr. Firth might have been far more dashing, but Mr. Macfadyen’s portrayal of the character as a shy, awkward suitor whose seeming arrogance camouflages insecurity and deep sensitivity is more realistic.” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times)
Now, personally, I think Firth and MacFadyen both concentrated on what they felt was the main characteristic of Darcy: Firth depicted more arrogance and MacFadyen more vulnerability. I think both did good in how they handled those traits. I also think that whether an individual likes Firth or Macfadyen better as Darcy is according to which depiction they prefer. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other.
As to the different versions of Pride and Prejudice, I have seen all of the 1940 and love it in spite of its inaccuracies and quirkiness. Laurence Olivier was definitely arrogant. Loved Edna Mae Oliver as Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She was wonderful at looking down her nose at others. I’ve also seen clips of the 1967 and 1980 versions and can enjoy them as well. At least the 1980. Unfortunately, the BBC destroyed most of the 1967 which I would have loved to have seen in its entirety as it looks more like what I would expect to see in the early 1800s even though it was in black and white.
The 1995 version appeared in all its opulence and wealth as well as a very arrogant Fitzwilliam Darcy. And that was appropriate as Darcy used that arrogance as a shield to protect his vulnerable and sensitive side which seems to have been hidden pretty well in most versions except the 2005 movie. I love that version because Darcy’s arrogant shield failed to protect him against Elizabeth’s wrath, and I felt his hurt at her words. Instead of being above everybody else around him, Darcy was shown to be a good man but with imperfections just like every other human on earth. Thus, he could be loved in spite of his flaws since none of us are perfect.
Fitzwilliam Darcy just needed a little bit more balance in his life: a little more emphasis on his good qualities and a little less on those that didn’t serve him as well. I’m sure Elizabeth helped in that regard. 🙂
But, then again, does it really matter. We love Fitzwilliam Darcy no matter what, flaws and all. We need to look at him just as Elizabeth finally did in recognizing that his excellent traits outweighed his not so good traits and love him anyway. <3
Below are links to YouTube.com that give us a fair amount of the 1967 adaptation. ENJOY!
1967 Proposal Scene (1967) 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4liPlcAVoIY
Pride and Prejudice (1967) 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtQZMHUINGI&t=796s
Comparison of 1940, 1967, 1980, 1995 and 2005 versions of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EYDH9eR4iA