Many of you know that Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books. I was impressed with the Keira Knightly version of the movie but I much preferred the A&E miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I confess that as a young romantic I daydreamed myself Elizabeth Bennet (really, what girl reads the story and doesn't??). She's an ideal heroine: headstrong, determined, witty, and beautiful and she unknowingly wins the heart of Darcy who is eventually revealed as an ideal man.
The more I've read the story (and various versions of it), I find that there's another character that I resonate more with. As much as I want to be the Lizzie Bennet, I think I may have much more in common with Fitzwilliam Darcy. (Yes, his first name is Fitzwilliam. Not Mister as many seem to believe.) This is where the tie-in to my previous post arises. Darcy is unfairly labeled as proud and arrogant early on in Austen's story because he's not entirely comfortable in social settings. Bottom line: he's shy!
One of my favorite scenes in the novel, is a turning point in Lizzie and Darcy's relationship. She calls him out on his aloofness (which she has assumed is really pride) and he explains that he doesn't always feel comfortable making small talk with strangers. In response, Elizabeth confronts him with an interesting piano-playing analogy:
"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
"My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault- because I would not take the trouble of practising..." (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)
Later in the story, Darcy takes Lizzie's advice to heart and his efforts at "practising" lead her to fall further in love with him. I guess it's partly why I love the story so much because their relationship is not a schmaltzy love-at-first-sight but one of deepening regard over time and the betterment of two people because of their relationship with each other.
But back to my own comparison, I've seen real truth in the lesson Darcy learns. Whether my weakness is piano, social graces, or blog-writing, improvement comes only through practice.