Happy Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

Mr. Darcy

While leading man Mr. Darcy certainly is “the thinking woman’s heart-throb,” he’s more than a romance icon.

As dedicated fans will know, Pride and Prejudice turned 200 years old on Monday, January 28.

ABC’s Diane Sawyer’s opened her anniversary segment noting that Pride and Prejudice is “book that cracked a vital code—the eternal secret of how a man can be irresistible to a woman.” ABC gives us a brief history of the book and montage of its popular iterations over the past 200 years. But while leading man, Mr. Darcy certainly is “the thinking woman’s heart-throb,” he’s more than a romance icon.

A few years ago, my friend Brian Brown noted some the reasons in a post titled, “Why Men Like Jane Austen.”

This is the Austen hero. Chesterton observed, “When Darcy, in finally confessing his faults, says ‘I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice though not in theory,’ he gets nearer to a complete confession of the intelligent male than ever was even hinted by the Byronic lapses of the Brontes’ heroes or the elaborate exculpations of George Eliot’s.” This kind of self-aware yet self-confident manhood does not impress in the way that a quick wit or a quick sword does. Rather, it inspires respect—something we too often do not know how to gain, because for the Austen hero, “manly” is not something he does, like rescuing a damsel in distress; it is something he is. There is an integrity to him that transcends situation.

Today, such integrity and selflessness still merit respect and admiration. That’s what most (if not all) single ladies hope for in a spouse.

But for anyone who’s not convinced that such Austenesque virtues are timeless, I offer you a brassy and boisterous reminder that marriage “still works.” The recently married young commentator Steven Crowder opined on the topic, over the weekend. His post, “A man’s top 5 reasons to grow up and get married” is worth the read. It’s not aimed towards the marriage-minded single, and could be frustrating for anyone fruitlessly pursuing marriage. But it’s a bold wake-up call aimed at the loafing bachelor who thinks marriage is out-dated.

So, gentlemen, skim Crowder’s “Top 5 Reasons” and then grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice. The cultural milieu has altered. But there are still Mr. Darcy’s and Elizabeth Bennett’s to be matched.

This post was originally published on the FRC blog.

Jessica Prol
Jessica Prol is a communications professional working and living in Washington, D.C.

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