Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennet

I watched through The Lizzie Bennet Diaries this week. I blew through them videos for the main story in two days, and today (day 3) I watched all of the supporting videos. If you haven't seen them and liked Pride and Prejudice, I suggest you go watch them on YouTube. There are 100 episodes of the Diaries, with 10 Q&A videos, 2 epilogue videos, and 33 videos from Lydia Bennet's point of view. They change a few things from the books (Mr. Collins proposes a business partnership instead of marriage, Mary is the Bennet sister's cousin and Kitty is Lydia's cat, Mr. Bingley becomes Bing Lee and loses a sister), but the changes don't detract from the story. (The biggest change is what happens between Lydia and Wickham. Well, that and Caroline Lee being the one to give Darcy hope instead of his Aunt Catherine.)

And it got me thinking about Mr. Darcy (both the one in the book and the one in the show). He comes across, to Elizabeth, as very proud and stuck-up. Lizzie calls him a robot at one point. And he does have a very old fashioned way of speaking (in the videos, period appropriate for the book). But, as he eventually shows in the videos (once he starts actually being in them), he's more shy and awkward and not quite comfortable with being in the public eye (which is weird, because he's a CEO of a company, someone who would be in the public eye). He does seem to relax around Lizzie and start showing his softer side, even before he thinks he might have a shot with Lizzie after all.

And I realized that most introverts and shy people seem to wear suits of armor to people. Mostly because they don't know what is going on in our heads. We seem distant and unapproving and judgemental, when we are really just listening and thinking and caring. Because talking can often be hard, words can be hard sometimes. And people seem to think quiet people are judging, even when we are mentally checked out.

The problem with trying to pin much of any characteristics to Mr. Darcy, I will admit, comes from the fact that we learn things mostly from Elizabeth Bennet's point of view. And her view is limited, partly by her own pride and partly from her not being present for so much of the backstory of the Darcy family and their dealings with George Wickham. Which is not to say that the book Elizabeth is an unreliable narrator (nor the video Lizzie), but that we only learn things as she learns them. We don't know what Bingley (or Bing Lee, in general) thinks of Darcy. We don't know how much of his initial insults of Miss Bennet stem from being shy or introverted and being forced into conversations and dealings with all manner of people when he's not ready for it. He does seem, in the books, more comfortable in Bingley's house (even with Jane and Elizabeth there). Anyone who might have slowly warmed up to him the first time they read the book might warm up to him faster the second time around when seeing his attempts at showing Elizabeth his warming interest.

I will admit that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries does end without anyone married or engaged, but Bing Lee and Jane are dating and seem to be moving towards that and Darcy and Lizzie are dating with potential for future marriage. Lydia is single and trying to figure out what to do with herself, after her disastrous relationship with George Wickham (and her videos show, even before the relationship, how much the Lydia in the videos is trying to hide her loneliness and fear of losing her sisters behind a party girl attitude, which was her armor).

I don't know what Jane Austen would think of her characters being portrayed like they are in the videos. I would hope that she would enjoy it, even with some interesting changes. I know that I did.
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