Pride and Prejudice is a beloved comfort novel of mine.
The characters are lovable and well developed, its lessons are at least as powerful (if not more powerful) as when it was written. and the irony is pointed and rich. I love everything about it, but for years, I felt I was alone in my adoration, save for the occasional librarian and English Lit. professor.
Thus, when I first noticed "My Heart Belongs To Mr.Darcy" teacups, totebags and scarves appearing on Etsy, my heart lept and I clapped my little hands in glee! Surely I'd found a new sisterhood of geeky fandom. Classic novel nerds, willing to declare their undying love for the written word. To me, declaring oneself betrothed to Mr.Darcy seemed a delicious irony, a way of saying "Don't bother me, Dudebro... I'm busy reading a book!"
Enthused, I started exploring this new sisterhood, but what I found? It shocked me! The bulk of these fans, they view Pride & Prejudice as a. .. a... a... I can barely bring myself to type it.. they view it as a ... A ROMANCE NOVEL. Can you imagine?
Not a parody.
Not a morality tale or comedy.
Not a harsh and biting criticism of society.
Not a character study.
But a freaking romance novel, the sort of book that a young lady might need to fan herself while reading, lets she be overcome by her own longing and desire.
I lay the blame for this sad state of affairs soundly on the popularity of the BBC mini-series (damn you, Colin Firth!), for it downplayed the satire angle, and put Mr. Handsome in the spotlight. Then came the explosion of erotic fan fiction, and the Hollywood version of the film, equally romanticized (Damn you too, Kiera Knightly!) and we have a generation of young women who can hardly be blamed for thinking that it is a love story and nothing but a love story.
I've been so annoyed by this state of things, that even watching the most recent actual parody of the parody ( Pride & Prejudice & Zombies) couldn't console me.
Gone is Darcy-the-Pompous-ass; he has been reduced to a teen heartthrob.
I am in mourning. It is as if my favorite obnoxious, insufferable, classist, ableist, sexist, cluelless-yet-still-beloved uncle has been swept up by aliens and replaced at a family picnic by a cardboard cut out of Zak Efron, and everyone around me just keeps complimenting Aunt Betty on the potato salad like nothing happened..
It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I despise this state of things...
Fed up with my whining, the Qwirks hit on the idea of a series of illustrations to set things right again, in my own mind if nowhere else. Images that would somehow demonstrate Miss Jane Austen's delicious snark, awkward courtships, difficult but necessary partnerings, and the sexism we inherited from the Darcy & Elizabeth generation.
The images are designed to reflect the tumultuous nature of their courtship (and no doubt the marriage which followed, since Darcy would continue to be an entitled ass and Lizzy would continue her impudent ways). With this in mind, our young lovers can be hung to face one another, or to turn their backs.
The text overlaid on the image consists of quotations from the book, with the grey text behind them displaying their disdain for one another, and the white text on the outside revealing their admiration and even love for one another.
Darcy: ``You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.'' And with these words he hastily left the room, and Elizabeth heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house"
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Elizabeth: "Your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.''
She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgement, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.
With Love & Petty Snarks,Tori, Lizzy, Darcy & The Qwirks
P.S.. I owe a thank you to
for inspiring the idea of a "petty snark", a turn of phrase I believe Ms Austen would heartily approve of.
P.P.S. As always, bonus typos, creative spellings and repetitive word choices are provided as a free service, meant to delight your inner proof reader!
P.P.P.S. Petty snark is STILL not romance, not even when dressed up in a top hat and morning coat.