We think we know what he looks like, visions of Colin Firth – poor man; forever embodying this fictional character – immediately leaping into our mind’s eye as soon as Mr Darcy is mentioned. We know he is tall, handsome and rich and aloof.
We know this, absolutely we do, because Austen tells us so. She tells us that Darcy ‘drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report … of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr Bingley.’
Austen gives the barest pencil sketch, blurred around the edges and certainly with no defining features, just so her readers could imagine whomever they wanted in that role.
And so we did.
Darcy could be fair-haired: he could be dark. He could be as tall as we wanted to make him; he could be whatever we thought ‘handsome’ was. In actual fact, Darcy was a concoction of our fantasy and imagination. Of course, since Mr Firth, that blurred outline written 200 hundred years ago has been filled in rather well, but, still, her lack of detail has meant that different Darcys have existed in millions of imaginations for the past 200 years.
Not any more.
According to Professor John Sutherland, the Mr Darcy Jane Austen imagined while writing her barest outline was more likely to have had a long nose, pointed chin, powdered white hair, a pale complexion, slender, sloping shoulders and a modestly-sized chest. Defined legs were also considered very attractive.
Photo / UKTV
Kind of ruins the fantasy, doesn’t it?
Read the full report that sparked this post by Hannah Furness The Telegraph Feb 13, 2017http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11799399