Guest Post: Mr. Darcy in the Modern World (#AustenInAugustRBR)

Today’s guest post comes from Samantha at As Read By An Aspiring Receptionist. Please give her a warm welcome!


Mr Darcy in the Modern World
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every woman in the world is in love with Mr Darcy.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. Greatly exaggerating, I know. But what is true is that Mr Darcy is, arguably, Jane Austen’s most recognisable character. And I’ve noticed lately that Darcy’s name, his instantly recognisable name, seems to be tied up intrinsically with his character. You can see it in every modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. No matter how many other character’s names change to fit the new era or setting, Mr Darcy always remains Mr Darcy. But I hear you all shouting, “But Samantha! Where’s your proof?” (Or maybe that’s just the uni lecturers that reside in the back of my head continually telling me to support my claims.) So, some examples? Let’s have a look:

William Darcy and Lalita Bakshi

Bride and Prejudice
Bride and Prejudice moves the story of Pride and Prejudice to modern-day India (with a pit-stop in London and LA). And as such the characters’ names need to reflect this change. The Bennet family become the Bakshis, Charles and Caroline Bingley are now Balraj and Kiran, and Mr Collins turns into the amusing Mr Kholi. However, for our favourite Fitzwilliam Darcy the only change is that the Fitz is dropped from the beginning of his name. Of course, this could easily be simply because in this adaptation Darcy is American, and William Darcy sounds like a nice, normal name.

Elizabeth Bennet and Will Darcy

Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy
So this time we’re in present day Utah, and most of the characters get to keep their names with only minimal alterations. With the exception of Elizabeth, the Bennet sisters have new surnames as the five of them are now housemates rather than family. The only other notable change is that Georgiana Darcy becomes Anna Darcy (technically Euphemiana Darcy). And lucky Darcy gets to keep his full name, although no one calls him Fitzwilliam, and Elizabeth only finds out about it when Anna starts teasing him.

Lydia Bennet as Bing Lee and Lizzie Bennet as William Darcy

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
And now we come to the most recent modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is told through video blogs and across social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.). In this version we see a lot of changes to names and characters. Instead of five Bennet sisters we have three – Jane, Lizzie and Lydia. Kitty Bennet is now literallya cat, and Mary has become the quiet cousin that most people forget. Bingley and his sister are now Bing Lee (which, in my opinion, is the most clever naming ever, as it still sounds very similar to the Bingley name but is so modern) and Caroline Lee. Charlotte Lucas, being of Asian descent, is Charlotte Lu and Mr William Collins is now Ricky Collins, though he tries to get people to refer to him as Mr Collins. But Mr Darcy? He’s still William Darcy, known and referred to by all and sundry as simply Darcy. (Lizzie: “Darcy. It’s like he’s a dub-step DJ.”)

Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver

And if you wanted to you could even draw this as far as the character of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary. I once read an interview with Helen Fielding where she said that she had based the character of Mark Darcy on Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr Darcy in the 1995 BBC mini-series. (Though don’t quote me on that – it was a long time ago and I honestly can’t remember where I read it…) Although Bridget Jones’s Diary is only loosely based on Pride and Prejudice I still find it interesting that the Mr Darcy-like character still retains the name of Darcy, while every other character has their own original name. You can make of that what you will.  (And yes, I picked this particular image rather than the movie poster because hey, who doesn’t love this scene?)

So what was the point I was trying to make? Shakespeare wrote that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and for the majority of characters this seems to be the case. Elizabeth Bennet still has the characteristics of Lizzy Bennet and acts like Lizzy Bennet, even when she’s being called Lalita. But we can’t seem to separate Darcy as a name from his character. Just a little something to ponder as you start watching or reading some modern adaptations…

*Related side note: It wasn’t until I was going back through these movies that I noticed that Mr Wickham always retains the same name as well (with the exception of Bridget Jones’s Diary obviously). Just an interesting point to think about, considering the relationship between Darcy and Wickham, that only just occurred to me.

Thanks, Samantha, for taking time to stop by and share an interesting perspective on Austen in the Modern World!  Be sure to keep-up with Samantha at her blog and on Twitter.

Samantha is also hosting a Giveaway at her blog, to coincide with this guest post.  Head on over (Here) to check it out!

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16 thoughts on “Guest Post: Mr. Darcy in the Modern World (#AustenInAugustRBR)

  1. You’re right, Helen Fielding DID base Mark Darcy on Colin Firth’s MR Darcy. Bridget also has a total crush on him and his wet shirt, and gets to interview him in the second book. It never made it into the movie… because how could she interview Colin Firth when he’s already playing another character?! Totally confusing and yet strangely perfect, isn’t it… I might have to track some of these down, actually. And watch Bride and Prejudice again. And re-read Bridget Jones. That’s the rest of my summer sorted! 😉

    • This is the kind of behind-the-scenes stuff that makes movies so interesting. Especially book-to-film adaptations.

      I actually watched Bridget Jones’s Diary two weekends ago, and Bridget Jones’s The Edge of Reason last weekend. lol

    • I love that interview in the second book! If you look through the special features in Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, they actually did film the scene with Colin Firth playing himself, because it’s just such a brilliant moment (even though they couldn’t actually use it in the movie). It’s hilarious! 😀

  2. I think the best modern day rendition is Shannon Hale’s “Austenland”. I listened to it on audio and the reader’s various inflections and accents made it hysterically funny (and dare I say hot?). Also, until the end, you aren’t quite sure who is Darcy and who is Wickham, or if they are even going to show up.

  3. Pingback: Pride and Prejudice ~ I’ve Finally Read It « The Tiger's Eye

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