Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy? by Gianna Thomas

Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy? by Gianna Thomas

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


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17 Responses to Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy? by Gianna Thomas

  1. I love all the actors I’ve seen in the role. I wish there were more adaptations though as there are a few actors I would have loved to see tackle the role.

    • With as many adaptations as there are, I imagine more will be added in the future. You may get your wish as to seeing some of those actors play Mr. Darcy. I wonder who will be determined to be the best. 🙂

  2. I love the P+P with Keira Knightley and Matthew! It was what made me read P+P to begin with!I could watch it over and over and never get tired! I like Colin Firth too.

    • How neat, Cindie, that the 2005 encouraged you to read ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Jane Austen’s characters are unforgettable. That’s why it’s so lovely to have hundreds of variations to enjoy as well. Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  3. I thought you hit the nail on the head when you wrote the article. I read “Pride and Prejudice” when I was in grade school and just becoming a teenager and fell in love with Darcy. I have seen other versions of the movie but still 2005 is my favorite one of Elizabeth and Darcy. Perhaps it was that they were near the age of the characters when the movie was made however, I thought Matthew MacFadyen was the way I visualized him when I first read the novel.
    However, when we see whoever played them and what year it was made in, Jane Austen’s novel lives on in our hearts and we continue reading novels about the lovely couple!

    • Thank you, MaryAnn. The 2005 may remain my favorite, but it doesn’t dim enjoyment of the other adaptations. Age might have made some difference at that. And, yes, we do continue to enjoy not only the original P&P but all the variations as well. We just love Darcy and Elizabeth. <3

  4. I have copies of all the movie versions of P&P. My favorite is 1995 and, No, it is not because of the pond scene. The earliest version is somewhat laughable as they cast older people in young roles and changed the script at times. Thanks for sharing here.

    • NO, sorry, I am wrong. I have the 1985, 1995, 2005 and the modern makeover. I thought I had a copy of the 1940 version but can’t seem to locate it so I can’t say I have it.

    • You’re welcome, Sheila. My objection to the pond and bath scenes I’ll keep to myself. As to the older version, Hollywood was playing fast and loose with the script…as usual. They did that to Random Harvest, my fav movie, and I wish they had just left it alone. I will say this that Greer Garson has always appeared young to me, so her playing Elizabeth was okay. And Laurence Olivier was sexy enough that most of the audiences probably fell in love with Darcy anyway. 🙂

  5. I have all the movie versions in my collection. I think I’ve seen clips of the 1969 version. It is too bad it was destroyed. 1940: Lady Catherine was a giggle. Lydia was certainly over the top and didn’t even realize what she had done to her family. Among the bloopers was their introductions and the procession into dinner… oldest to the youngest was certainly ignored. I can’t help it, I loved the inaccurate costumes. How many ways can you decorate a hat, or, redesign a dress. Fabulous. I would love to have seen it in color. 1980: Mr. Collins actually looked like he was described. This Darcy was truly arrogant and showed his disdain. He didn’t crack a smile until near the end. 1995 will always be my favorite. Team Firth. I think I have about 3 copies of this one [collectors’ edition, extended version, anniversary edition, etc.] 2005 has the best look for the Bennet house [Longbourn] and everyday clothing. And let’s not forget that amazing dance scene, our hero walking through the morning mist [help me], and last but not least… the last scene of the movie. Whew. Now, what was it you were talking about? My mind wandered with thoughts of Darcy. LOL! Thanks for the post. Blessings, stay safe, and healthy.

    • As always, I love your comments (tongue in cheek), Jeanne. There is a color version of the 1940 out there. Amazon has one, I believe. In the different versions, several of the actors fit the bill and some did not. I do think that there are certain scenes, certain people, and the way it was filmed that either really ring true or flop considerably. All can be enjoyable if we let them be. I just think that some are not to my taste, and I think that all the fans of Pride and Prejudice have their own pride and prejudice when it boils down to it. Everybody’s taste is a little different. And I will add that I think we can find something positive about ALL the adaptations, and I appreciate that we have more than one Darcy to enjoy as well. 🙂

  6. I loved both Firth and Macfadyen as Darcy. I think that the portrayals in part reflect the reality of the versions. Firth had 5 hours for the viewer to fall in love with him, while Macfadyen had only 2. After all, if we can’t fall in love with Darcy, then the version is a failure! Lol. Firth could be really stiff and arrogant with his Darcy, and had time to gradually show more emotion. MacFadyen had a few small moments hinting of Darcy’s shyness leading up to the proposal scene, and then his vulnerability showed and continued to the end.

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Robin, that if we can’t fall in love with Darcy, that version didn’t work. I suspect that all the versions work to a degree if we take a close look at them. That’s why I’ll take time to watch all that I have before saying which one is the best. And I may never say that. I may like them all. 🙂

  7. I find the 1940 version to be slightly entertaining although it actually bears little resemblance to the original book. I don’t remember ever seeing the 1969 version, I watched the 1980 version once and found that once too many, I couldn’t stand this portrayal of Darcy and felt a cardboard cutout would have done just as well!
    Then we come to 1995! Fabulous, absolutely fabulous! Followed by 2005! Also fabulous! I absolutely love both these portrayals of Darcy and my favourite is whichever I’m watching! I watch both constantly and totally agree with your reasoning on both.??????

    • Yes, the 1940 version was totally Hollywood. But I still love the archery scene. It’s something I can picture Elizabeth doing. There are some clips of the 1967 version (sorry, I always remember the wrong date) on YouTube.com that make me want the full version just to see how it compares to the others. Haven’t seen the 1980 though I did get a copy. I have heard that the director had wanted that depiction of Darcy, but I might find it a bit much when I view it. The 1995 is probably the most accurate as far as sticking with the book, but then again they had six plus hours to accomplish that. However, even Andrew Davies, I think, spoiled a little of that with Darcy bathing, Darcy swimming in the pond, and the sexy overtone that Jane Austen did not have in her version. I love the romantic 2005 and will even forgive Hollywood for the kiss scene at the end of the American version. Bottom line, I think that there are reasons to like all the versions to an extent, and I can thoroughly understand having a favorite. After all, our taste in men varies from person to person. 🙂

  8. Loved the article. I read Pride and Prejudice when I was in high school for my first time. The, I just saw him as arrogant and snobbish. But he was changed by Elizabeth’s reprimanded. Every movie that I had seen, portrayed him in the same manner, until 2005’s version. I loved that one, and completely see him now as a shy, awkward man who Sid hide behind his aristocracy and wealth. I have reread the book several times through the years, but since 2005’s movie, I can never see this character in any other way but as he was portrayed by Matthew McFadyen.

    • I agree, Jean. Matthew gave us the entire picture of who Darcy really is, not just a piece of his personality. Joe Wright did so much in such a short space of time (only about a third of the time for the 1995 version) and gave us the entire picture of the real Mr. Darcy. I think the casting of Matthew Macfadyen was perfect for this version of Pride and Prejudice. Also the subtle handling of locations, reactions, and even dress gave the audience information about the people and the times quickly instead of slowly as the longer 1995 version was able to do. Several scenes compressed into one allowed Wright to bring out more of the book than he could have if he had handled things differently. Wright also emphasized the romance of Pride and Prejudice more so than any of the other versions and that’s why it will probably continue to be my favorite. 🙂

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