Why Men Should Read Jane Austen #4

Although the dominant dynamic in the development of Darcy’s character is his coming to terms with his own vulnerability, one undeniable part of his charm – and part of the reason he wins Elizabeth – is his backbone. In one of the finest scenes never written (Austen did not write scenes where no women were present) Darcy confronts Wickham about his dalliance with Lydia and brings the whole messy situation to the most satisfactory close that could be imagined.

Of course, it is true that Darcy had the wherewithal (read: money and connections) do get this done, but it did not happen by itself.  Darcy had to do it. As with any great act of love, this business cost Darcy something, and not only money. To confront Wickham, Mr. Darcy had to get down in the weeds with him, at least for the moment.   Do you imagine that Wickham was immediately agreeable and compliant with everything Darcy proposed?  I don’t; not for a minute. I see Darcy with his knuckles on the table, channeling his inner Clint Eastwood, telling Wickham how it was going to be and warning him of the consequences otherwise.

In this act, we see magnified one of the aspects of Darcy’s character that Elizabeth finds irresistible. He acts. He plants his feet. He actually fulfills the role that fortune and destiny have given him the chance to play. He in fact is the noble man. He is the great caretaker and steward, not only of Pemberly, but of the lives of those he loves. What woman in her right mind wouldn’t melt at this?

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