Posted on 2012-04-16
There has been a great deal of discussion abounding on the true nature of my character of late. People seem to want to know whether my reticence is a result of shyness or arrogance. Allow me to share with you a bit about my life, and then tell me what approach you would adopt in society.
My mother and father both died young, leaving me to manage a vast estate, and a young sister, at the tender age of two and twenty. There's no need to pity me, however. Though I miss them both dearly, I was well able to shift for myself - Pemberley has flourished under my diligent care; it is generally known that I am worth well over ten thousand a year, and my sister is as dear to me as any sister can be - truly, there is no need to pity me.
Yet, a little compassion wouldn't hurt. Everywhere I go, I am courted assiduously - not for my pleasing personality, mind you, but for my money and stature - and I'm not talking about my considerable height. My grandfather was an earl, and I still have connections amongst the peerage. It is generally thought that I will marry a wealthy heiress, a viscount's daughter, or the like.
But to return to the point - these women I am expected to marry, they are invariably...unappealing to me. The fair of face are generally vapid and shallow (consider Caroline Bingley, for example), while those with pleasing manners - more often than not - are as plain as can be. I realize how very awful that sounds, but I am a man, and while I am not determined to marry a beautiful woman, I have yet to make a connection with a homely one. There must be some attraction, after all. The women in society, they fairly swoon to see me, the eligible Mr. Darcy, about town. And if they don't, their mothers have their claws in me instead - and believe me, the matchmaking mamas are every bit as bad as their simpering daughters.
So I avoid them all. I really don't like talking to people I don't know. It makes me uncomfortable. Not in a sweaty palms manner, but in an 'I'd rather slam my head against the wall' way. It's not as though I am not capable of conversing with others, I just prefer not to. I have no talent for ballroom banalities, which generally consist of fashion and fortune - I am an intelligent man, and it takes more than that to hold my interest.
What I would give to have a rational discussion in a ballroom! But I suppose that might be rather less like a ball. Give me a woman who can discuss literature, arts, and politics - with a shred of sense, that is.
I digress. The truth is; I have no interest in polite discourse with those who care no more for me than the count of my income. I may be proud, but I am not so vain to think that the attention is all due to my good looks; I have heard myself called a handsome man, but I have seen many an attractive younger son passed over after one dance. Take my cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, for example. The women just don't hang on the younger sons as they do the heirs of the family fortune.
I am not interested in a marriage of convenience. Losing my parents at such a young age taught me an important lesson: life is precious, and I would prefer to spend it with people whom I truly love and esteem.
Enter Elizabeth Bennet.
I did not think much of her at first, and even refused to dance with her when my friend Bingley suggested it. Her manners were far from fashionable, but I soon was taken by their playfulness. Her figure lacked symmetry (whatever that means), but it was light and pleasing. As soon as I had convinced myself -and told others - she had hardly a good feature in her face, I was taken by the intelligent expression in her beautiful eyes.
She utterly fascinated me, and I yearned to learn more of her. I would watch her - even listen in on her conversations. In doing so, I found much to admire. She demonstrated a witty intelligence, good humor, and genuine kindness. She was an amalgamation of every trait a man hopes to discover in a wife. She truly had it all…
…except for a dowry and useful connections. I have more than enough money for two, but I also have an impeccable reputation to uphold - I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, you know. And her relations are, simply put, horrid - Save Elizabeth and her older sister, Jane, of course.
So I maintained my distance - or tried to. I left Hertfordshire as soon as I had a chance, and brought Bingley too, who had fallen hard for Elizabeth's sister. I went to that safe haven of Rosings where the only Mama I had to fend off was my own aunt. And there I was met, yet again, with Elizabeth Bennet - charming as ever, lovely as ever, and I was less in control of my emotions than ever before.
I suppose I can see how one might consider my manner around Elizabeth as that of a shy man; but shyness assumes a lack of confidence, or a fear of interacting with others. I can assure you, I am not afraid of Elizabeth, I just find her presence…unnerving, somehow. You must understand that in the past, my intelligence and manners had never before been a prerequisite for admiration. Usually, it was granted based on my position in society alone. But Elizabeth was different. I wish I had realized just how different before I completely lost myself and proposed to her - in the worst manner possible. Any other woman would have leapt at the chance; but Elizabeth refused me, and in no uncertain terms. Granted, I did cite all the reasons I had hesitated in asking for her hand: her uncouth family, low connections, lack of fortune, etc. I mean, any man in my position would have to consider these issues, and since I abhor disguise, well, I thought she should know just how much I had overcome.
She did not agree.
She told me my pride, conceit, and my selfish disdain for the feelings of others had led her to believe I was the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed upon to marry. I spent the next couple of months wondering where I had gone wrong, and attempting to better myself.
A fortuitous coincidence gave me the opportunity to show off my improved social skills. Elizabeth was touring Derbyshire with her unembarrassing aunt and uncle, and visited Pemberley at the exact same time I had returned. I endeavored to show her that I had taken her reproofs to heart, and I thought I was doing quite well, when that bane of my existence, George Wickham, halted any progress I had made, as he wrought havoc on her family. After doing what little I could to ensure her comfort, I immediately set out to make the wastrel marry her youngest - and silliest - sister, whom he had persuaded to elope.
After that was all settled as well as it could be, I set about correcting my error in separating my friend from Elizabeth's sister, and joined him at Netherfield. Perhaps if I had felt less, I could have spoken more to Elizabeth when we met, but it seemed the more I loved her, the less my mouth would cooperate.
Help came from the unlikeliest of sources when my Aunt Catherine tried to warn me off Elizabeth, and, in doing so, unwittingly revealed that Elizabeth unequivocally did NOT hate me. It was a start.
Obviously, I rushed back to Hertfordshire and won my lady's love and her hand.
So I give you leave to continue with your conjectures, and whatever you decide, be it shy, or arrogant, it does not signify to me, for I already know my story has a happy ending.The End