Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Cliche'd "Perfect Man"

I was flipping through channels while curled up on the couch with my Prince Charming when the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice came on.

And I started thinking...

What was the cliche'd Perfect Man before Mr. Darcy? It certainly wasn't always so cliche. And this cliche was even around in the 1890's with the birth of Anne Shirley - her prince was tall, dark, and handsome... All of Montgomery's princes were so. And the 5 Little Peppers? Mary's prince (Jasper) grew up to be tall, dark, and handsome... And how about Joe's Boys (Louisa May Alcott - continuation of Little Women), when Nat sweeps Daisy off her feet?

There was a time that blonde was in (especially in Rome), but not so much anymore.

You think its possible that Mr. Darcy has subliminally altered young women's minds over the course of 200 years?

10 comments:

single/certain said...

ohh... that movie. that movie is soooo good. you know, while i prefer tall, dark and handsome, i'd go for tall, blonde and handsome, too. the key words for me are 'tall' and 'handsome.' but tall is such a big one for me, since i'm really tall myself.

Lost in Academia said...

Okay Christine, because we're friends, I will confess to you...I hate Mr. Darcy. Hate him. A lot.

I see him, not so much as an original character, but a slight variation on the most destructive female fantasy, still nutured today: The "Bad Boy" that just needs to be loved.

*hurl*

When you look at his behavior, he is a total jerk. Then he gets to know Miss Elizabeth and suddenly he is totally different...

*Stifling gag reflex*

As to the physical side of things, Men are generally taller then women, so it is natural for women to be attracted to tall men, as what is different always is attractive. Handsome is ambiguous, (Handsome = attractive to the opposite sex), and Dark can be traced back at least to the Egyptian Pharaohs (When Masculine Beauty required ebony skin, and feminine beauty Ivory. Whether the current meme goes back that far is another matter...).

Now, let's see the rows and rows, of rows and rows of Women who turn up to burn me in effigy...Or possibly in personum...

Until next time.

single/certain said...

but, academia, darcy's not a jerk. he was doing good things, just not coming off very well in the process. and he didn't just need to be loved, he needed to be stood up to. then loved. :)

Christina said...

Lol Chris...

Not fair.

First of all, Darcy makes it quite clear to Miss Bennett that the reason for his aloofness was because he finds it difficult to socialize with strangers.

The "Bad Boy" is all in Elizabeth's head (hence the title Pride & Prejudice which was originally First Impressions).

Based on her initial interaction with Mr. Darcy, she built up a persona of him that was completely and utterly false. All of her interactions with people who knew him and had reason to think ill of him continued to affect her opinion of him.

After his first proposal when he finds out JUST what exactly Miss Elizabeth thought of him, he responds to all of her accusations in a cool and resonable way.

Of course, we can't be left to his word alone, so off we travel to his home, where Elizabeth runs into his servants and witnesses how he treats his sister - that is not a "Bad Boy".

As an intravert, I can understand the amount of struggle it takes to interact with people while maintaining some poise and self-confidence - its HARD. And I'm sure I come off as haughty and rude myself.

But anyway, you can hardly claim that Gilbert is the "Bad Boy" =p

Lost in Academia said...

Single Certain Said:
"he didn't just need to be loved, he needed to be stood up to. then loved."
Christina Said:
"The "Bad Boy" is all in Elizabeth's head...I can understand the amount of struggle it takes to interact with people while maintaining some poise and self-confidence - its HARD."

First off, it's awesome I got both the blog mistress, and an eloquent defender of the character, in less then 24 hours, I am quite the surgeon of the uncomfortable. ;)

Now to your objections. But when we see Mr. Darcy's actions, they speak to an almost unbridled egotist. Take his most reprehensible set of acts, 1) Stopping the Bingley/Bennett match (Which is bad) 2) Going for his own Darcy/Bennett match. (Which is a thousand times worse). The first can be forgiven, if he truly was judging the family based on social graces of all the daughters. But what of the second? It is an act of unspeakable ego to tell a friend, "You can not match with this family...I on the other hand may breathe the rarified air, I can choose whom I please, social grace be darned." Jerk.

2) he is not without virtues. He loves his sister (So did Hitler [Hitler's sister that is, I have no personal knowledge as to how Hitler felt about Darcy's sister]), and is beloved of his servants (Which could point more to a belief in Noblesse oblige, then true humanity. But that's just speculation on my part). But does this excuse all of his actions?

3) So what's the big what with Darcy? As Single/Certain pointed out he needed to be stood up to before he was loved. This means that the man doesn't even deserve the title of "Best man in *Pride & Prejudice*" (Bingley deserves this title as his only vice, If one takes your positions, is listening to the advice of secretly good guys), so why is Darcy so praised? I'm not death on liking Austen characters, but there are so very many better characters, like Captain Wentworth (*Persuasion*) who forgives the woman who jilts him because he is poor and returns to her despite the fact he's rich, and she's poor. Or Colonel Brandon (*Sense and Sensibility*) for those who need a flawed man, makes a mistake and spends the rest of his life caring for his beloved's child with another man. Yet, I never hear women pining for men like this...Just saying you don’t have to retcon these guys into being “actual nice guys”, no their good guys from the beginning. And you ladies seem to find that boring. But if one’s idea of finding Prince Charming, is to kiss every frog in the land, one should develop a fondness for the taste of flies.

I'll leave you with this bit of Dialogue from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog that captures my feelings as to Mr. Darcy:
(Dr. Horrible discussing the new relationship of the girl of his dreams, Penny, with his arch nemesis)
Penny: He's a good looking guy and at first I thought he was a little cheesy...
Dr. Horrible(Quickly):Trust your instincts.
Penny:...But then he turned out to be totally sweet. Sometimes people are layered like that, there's something totally different underneath, then what's on the surface.
Dr. Horrible: Yes, but sometimes there's a third even deeper layer that's exactly like the layer on top.
Penny(Confused): Huh?
Dr. Horrible(Quickly): Like Pie.

Until Next time.

single/certain said...

wow, lost.... you lost me. :) i'm no austen scholar. i read P&P, and then saw the latest movie version, which i adored, for multiple reasons; the amazing shots; scenery, costumes, etc; the gorgeous music, and what's-his-name who played darcy. he was ridiculously good-looking in my opinion.
i will say that i admit to being foolish sometimes. most women are this way, some more than others. so there may be some level of foolishness as to my thinking darcy is amazing. however, i will also say the following:
-i don't think him stopping the match was terrible. he made a mistake, yes... he was being kind of arrogant. but, he was also protecting his friend. he was worried about the moral character of the bennett family after observing, as you noted, the 'social graces of all the daughters, and he thought that the eldest bennett daughter didn't love bingley the way bingley loved her. he was wrong, yes, but, well, that happens. his motives were decent enough.

another thing that does it for me is that darcy pursued elizabeth. he came after her! and he told her his interest. more than once! he was persistent. and intense. and that always gets me. i'm not saying that's exactly what i'm lookign for, but it's awesome to see, adn speaks to my heart in amazing ways. to be pursued.... to be chosen... i think that speaks to the hearts of so many women.
ha. ok. enough. i'm going to bed!

Christina said...

Ok, Chris :)

My turn (do realize I'm enjoying the exchange and this is all in fun):

1) Stopping the Bingley/Bennett match (Which is bad)

Did you read the book? There's some stuff that's in the book that isn't in the movie - I don't remember if this was in the movie, but in case it wasn't, here it is:
Jane was warned by both Charlotte and Elizabeth that keeping her feelings for Mr. Bingly so close to her heart that she might actually, in fact, lose him. And she did. In the letter that Darcy leaves for Elizabeth, he says that for his friend, his happiness was the most important to him - even if it meant letting him marry into such a horrendous family (no points for Darcy here). However, Jane's perceived lack of interest led him to believe that his friend's heart was in danger of being broken and whisked him away for fear that he'd make a fool of himself with a woman who cared nothing for him (point for Darcy).

2) Going for his own Darcy/Bennett match. (Which is a thousand times worse).
Darcy was abundantly more careful about his OWN reputation than that of his friend Bingley. This is probably because his family was more prominently visible (his aunt is a countess, after all). He tells Elizabeth that he was hesitant to go after her because of her familial connections (no points for Darcy here), but when he realized how intrigued he was by her and that he couldn't imagine life without her, he was willing to put aside his reputation and his family's opinions for her (.5 point to Darcy for giving up his reptuation).

2) he is not without virtues. He loves his sister (So did Hitler [Hitler's sister that is, I have no personal knowledge as to how Hitler felt about Darcy's sister]), and is beloved of his servants (Which could point more to a belief in Noblesse oblige, then true humanity. But that's just speculation on my part). But does this excuse all of his actions?

Your right, simply loving his sister is not such an indicator of character. But how about how he treated Mr. Wickham -
The man was given a generous amount of money by Darcy's father on the stipulation that he follow the life of a minister. Wickham decides to go into law and asks for his money under those conditions - and Darcy obliged.

Wickham proceeded to gamble it away. In spite of every ounce of irresponsibility exhibited by Wickham, Darcy still provided the means for him to marry Lydia - without thinking that Elizabeth would change her mind about him and swearing Wickham and Lydia to secrecy.

No, Darcy ain't perfect...but no man is. As Single/Certain said, he pursued and persevered. The book IS called Pride & Prejudice, but I think its wonderful that two people worked through initial impressions to make a relationship work :)

He's not a "bad boy" by the definition of Bad boy. But he does hold the standard for sophisticated, tall, dark, and handsome (and rich) prince charmings that have come down to us through the ages of literature =p

Lost in Academia said...

Single/certain said:
"...there may be some level of foolishness as to my thinking Darcy is amazing."

While my ill opinion of Mr. Darcy is more fun than actual vitriol, I must admit there is a certain amount of kidding on the square behind it. Often I've watched my sisteren paired with men I wouldn't trust to hold a snow cone, who then end up in tears. So feel free to admire Darcy (Though there are much better characters, see *Sense & Sensibility*[either the Ang Lee, or last year versions are excellent] or *Persuasion* [I endorse only the new version] or *The Scarlett Pimpernel* [everyone except the 40's version {which was still good but was mostly an anti-Nazi propaganda film}]etc.), but just say you'll remember there is more than a little fantasy involved (Like us [guys] and James Bond. We can think it's kind of cool how he can get any woman...But putting the admiration in to practice, not so much.) and I'll be happy. I am positive you deserve more than a fantasy, little sister.

Christina Said:
"Darcy ain't perfect...but no man is."

Well, on the plus side I've moved you away from the "It was all in Elizabeth's head" school. I guess now it's all about how much arrogance and cheek one can with stand before the sparkle comes off the star. Maybe you just have a way higher threshold then I.

I will say that Darcy's interaction with Wickham is largely irrelevant, one way or the other. Admittedly, he could have withheld the money. But that would have been petty and small. Darcy's sins are closer to Arrogance, which would never have allowed him to keep so small an amount of money from Wickham. What he does afterwards, is either irrelevant, or actually goes in my favor. After all, he has already let his huggy-bear's magic feminine powers work to change hi...

*Urge to vomit, rising*

*Rising*

Control yourself...

*Falling*

So it act...

*Rising*

*Falling*

Christina also said:
"He's not a "bad boy" by the definition of Bad boy. But he does hold the standard for sophisticated, tall, dark, and handsome (and rich) prince charmings that have come down to us through the ages of literature"

Madam, if you were trying to get me to fly into a huge expletive filled rage you need only repeat that.+ Mr. Darcy is not the superlative in any standard. Nor is he even the baseline for comparison. I can think of Thousands of characters from Arthur to Zorro, and back who would be better. As I said in my previous post, one need not look outside of the Austen Cannon to find better. Yet now I think I'm being baited. For shame Madam, you do ill to treat a poor gent so. :)

+Just kidding. You probably figured that out, but when using the ol' intertubes one has to telegraph his jokes.

Until next time.

P.S. Loved your comment about the Dark Knight on Boundless. So true.

Christina said...

/giggle

I haven't read the other ones - though I've REALLY wanted to. Sense & Sensibility has been a bit of a trial though...and I don't know why.

I think my verbal skills were higher prior to college. Oh well...time to pick up a book when I'm done with this horrendous project for work.

SavvyD said...

I've dated all different looking men. They are all attractive in their own way. But going from blond/blue to black/brown is something of a shock.

A when you are 5'2" everyone is taller but I prefer guys who are at least 5'8"