My mother encouraged me not to post this. She said I sound mean and bratty (what’s new, right?). I kept going back and forth about whether or not to do so, but have obviously decided to post. Let me start off by saying, I have superb friends. Especially guy friends. I am by no means trying to poke or pick at any of you. You guys are great and I love you. Seriously. That being said, take what will follow (if you even decide to read this…I know it is long) with a grain of salt. It started with a small discussion I had a few months ago with Vickie and then somehow turned into essentially a discourse on men in 19th century literature and their lasting impression on women today. A little writing bug bit me and I simply had to get my ideas out. That being said…(remember I truly do love you guys):
Many have named Disney and chick flicks as the driving force behind the wheels that have spun the great delusions some women have when it comes to the ideas of love and romance. This is a very small and minute part of the problem. The real problem lies with the relationships in such literary works as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I understand these books could in a way be considered precursors to chick flicks (as many have been made into movies anyway), but what I want to discuss here has less to do with the concept of “happily ever after,” and more to do with the specifics of the men in these two novels. Mr. Rochester and Mr. Darcy. They gladly tell you yes I am a jerk, grumpy, sarcastic, rude, and brooding, but throw in a little “but you can find the good in me!” just to confuse things. This is how the delusions all got started.
Exhibit A: Mr. RochesterMr. Rochester is the love interest in Jane Eyre. Just to give a little background, Jane (plain just as one might imagine) comes to work at his manor, Thornfield, as a governess to what is assumed to be his illegitimate French daughter, Adele. From the beginning, he treats Jane terribly, embarrasses her, lies to her and even stoops so low as to ask her to be his mistress. In the end of course love conquers all (Really. It is a gothic novel. Ghosts, fortunetellers, creepy candle-lit nights with sounds of a monster coming from the attic. There is much to be conquered.) and all is forgiven.
Exhibit B: Mr. DarcyThis case is not quite as strong as it is more two sided. I guess one could say Elizabeth is somewhat equally to blame. Regardless, it can easily be noted that Mr. Darcy is a pretty big jerk, especially initially. He is quick to show his true colors and boorish attitude. After seeing Elizabeth for the first time he says “she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.” Of course being the gentleman he is he makes sure she is just within earshot. After later he confesses his love to Lizzy, which he makes clear that it was “in vain [he has] struggled” as he has tried to repress these feelings in the first place because we all just know he’s so much better than her and from a higher class in society and all; he is bewildered by her disdain for him. Being shocked by her long list of things that lead to this disdain he tactfully asks “could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?” Bravo Darcy. Bravo.
Yes, maybe Elizabeth’s pride was indeed injured by his words leading her to be more spiteful than usual, but all of the things she said were true (at least to her knowledge at the time). No need for Darcy to degrade her even more in the manner he does.
Well, thus is love, right? It all works out in the end. Luckily they realize what caused them so much trouble in the first place is how alike they are after all. I must note that Darcy does take extreme measures to redeem himself. Measures that are completely swoon worthy and would make any girl weak in the knees. So props to Darcy for this.
I guess the point I am trying to make here is why all the jerk attitude in the first place? I will easily admit to being in love with Misters Rochester and Darcy (Um hello talk about fantastic last names. I think Leah Rochester has a certain ring to it.) in a strictly “novel” sort of way.
This has led me to be concerned. Do I honestly believe that even if a guy were to be a total jerk to me he might change and learn to love me the way he should? As much as my brain wants to say “no” sadly, I’m pretty sure I subconsciously do think this. Fortunately, I haven’t been met with this problem just yet in my life. Here’s crossing my fingers that I never do. Stay away from me jerk guys, okay? I’m not sure I will be able to restrain myself.
One more thing. Why, even though characters and real life guys like Bingley (don’t you just adore him and his red hair in the new version?) are so much more winning and lovable is it Darcy that I am in love with in the first place? Curse you 19th century novels and your confusing but oh so attractive, dark and brooding Misters.
P.S. Just in case anyone is still scared remember, I am not anti-men by any means. I really do consider all my guy friends to be of the utmost quality. This is just something I have been contemplating ever since Vickie and I were half asleep and chatting about it at 3am on the way back from Bon Iver. I believe our conversation then was more along the lines of being in love with the characters rather than why we were. This was me trying to figure out why.