Monday, 11 April 2011

The Byronic Hero - Part 2 Darcy Fitzwilliam of Pride and Prejudice, Edward Cullen of Twilight, and their love objects...

The Byronic Hero
Thanks for your reactions to my last post. No one had any trouble accepting Darcy, Rochester or Heathcliff as Byronic heroes but some found Edward not in the same class. Well, like I said last post, there are some things we understand in our world and some things are from another world.

I'm going to let the novels do the talking.

Today Darcy takes centre stage, just where he likes to be. When we meet him in Pride and Prejudice (1815) he is an object of fascination for the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy is moody, cold, superior and judgmental, yet Elizabeth feels a strong attraction to him despite his aloofness.

In accordance with the reverence due a Byronic hero, when Mr Darcy arrives at the ball in Hertfordshire, he is immediately admired: "Mr Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year." This admiration turned to disgust during the evening as he was perceived as "proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased."

Like Darcy, Edward makes a strong first impression in the cafeteria. Bella is immediately astounded by him. Jessica Stanley tells Bella that "He's gorgeous...but don't waste your time. He doesn't date. Apparently none of the girls here are good looking enough for him." (Twilight, 22.)

For those ignorant of Twilight, that is the brooding Edward on the right.

Both Darcy and Edward are set apart by their emotional distance.

Darcy offends Elizabeth at the ball. He says: "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." His haughty rejection of Elizabeth is reminiscent of Edward's expression when Bella is seated next to him in class: "I peeked up at him...,and regretted it. He was glaring down at me..., his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away from him, shrinking against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenly ran through my mind." (Twilight, 24.) Edward is reacting to the overwhelming scent of Bella's blood, Darcy soon decides Elizabeth is "uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes." Like all good Byronic heroes, Edward and Darcy feel self-disgust, even if it is aimed at their love objects.

Neither Elizabeth nor Bella believe they are desired. Elizabeth is disquieted by "how frequently Mr Darcy's eyes were fixed on her...She could only imagine that she drew his notice because there was something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right..." In the meadow, Bella despairs: "He was too perfect...There was no way this godlike creature could be meant for me." (Twilight, 256.)

When Edward and Darcy declare themselves, it is phrased like surrender. Darcy says, "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." Edward tells Bella, "I'm tired of trying to stay away from you," and "You are the most important thing to me now..." (Twilight, 85,273.)

I hope you enjoyed this post on Mr Darcy, er, Colin Firth. Tell me what you think...


  1. Hi,

    Darcy, being a hotbed of male lust and honourably disgusted by his own imaginings and inner desires toward Elizabeth, he purposefully distances himself with cheap comment. Say it often enough, he may come to believe his own words. It's the classic romantic plot and author ploy of creating a thoroughly obnoxious hero, but nonetheless an utter desirable one! ;)

    Edward on the other hand, (not age-related perspective) kind of embodies similar qualities to that of Darcy yet never fully fleshed. Reason, where Darcy is a man of the world and mature enough to know his own failings in matters of the heart, Edward appears to have stumbled into them and doesn't understand what has happened, and stunned by it all he's in deep before he knows it. Hence naive and juvenile approach instigated by the author for the YA genre. :o


  2. Loved the post, Darcy is not a very appealing character, but given the century, and the time Austen lived, she gets away with it! :0)

  3. Although I prefer Darcy, Edward has a somewhat more valid reason for his initial disdain, I think!

    Very interesting parallels though, I hadn't spotted most of those before :)

  4. These are interesting parallels.

    Darcy fights against his attraction because of class.

    Edward because of his attraction to kill her.

  5. Great post!! I like how you draw the parallels between Darcy and Edward. Very, very well done!! And I hope Mr. Firth gets back to you soon with his thoughts. ;-)

  6. Great post. I tried to read, but was just drawn to Mr Darcy, sorry. ;0

  7. Great post Denise. I really enjoyed your comparisons.

  8. Interesting. I usually roll my eyes whenever anyone, male or female, gets everyone's attention, mostly if it's that everyone is attracted to them. But for me, the difference between the two is that I was able to force myself to read the first half of Pride & Prejudice but I didn't make it past page 4 in Twilight.

    While P&P was hard to read in the beginning, had to put it down every couple of chapters until the second half, which I actually liked. Twilight doesn't have the pressure of me reading it for school so once I put it down I didn't have enough reason to pick it up again. Never even made it to when she meets Edward.

  9. Francine: Always enjoy your dissertations. Thanks.

    Carole Anne: Yes, he wouldn't work this century but Colin Firth does!

    Ellen: Interesting isn't it?

    Michael: I agree.

    VR Leavitt: Hmm, I'd better check my inbox.

    Glynis: In a post like this pictures are very important.

    Ann: Thanks. So did I.

    Dawn: It does help to be forced to read some books as study and hopefully then you come to understand/enjoy them. I resisted reading Twilight until I was pressured into it but I'm glad I did.

  10. Huh. I never would have thought of the two as being similar in any way. No matter what I think of Twilight (and yes, I did begin the cult at work), Edward is a gentleman, a throw-back, though I do love Darcy from both movies.

    Very interesting post, thanks!

  11. ...interesting analogy, and one I would've never considered. Well done, L:)

    In answer to your question...considering how similar the title is to mine, I purchased Conroy's "South of Broad." Looking forward to its arrival.


  12. I love this. I love Darcy, I could read this book all the time. I also like Edward. There is something beautiful about him and being a vampire. I just need to read these books. =)

  13. I love D'Arcy, especially Colin Firth's version :D

    The best part of the miniseries was that smile at the end. OMG. ;)

  14. Interesting post. I never would have thought to compare those two books!

  15. Your post titles always bring a smile to my face, Denise.

    Great comparison!

    Ellie Garratt

  16. How good to make your acquaintance. Thank you for finding me, Denise.

    And how interesting - you're on my most favourite topic, the romantic hero. It has to be Mr Darcy. Sorry but Colin Firth wins, every time.

    Look forward to following you

    warm wishes

  17. To be honest, I scanned your post and went straight to the comments. Too girlie for me today LOL! Have a great week!

  18. Words Crafter: I'm glad you saw the parallels.

    Elliot: I hope you love it. Beach Music is my favourite, along with Prince of Tides of course.

    Tiger85: Thanks for coming by and enjoying the post.

    Trisha: Who could forget that smile.

    Vicki: Yeah, took me a while.

    Ellie: I find it so hard to be serious you've got no idea. My tongue is always firmly in my cheek, ha ha.

    Debbie: I'm so glad the first post you read is one you enjoy.

    Stephen: Well, ho hum, who reads all your science posts which are too blokey!


  19. Hey Denise! Your blog will be featured on Thursday for L!

  20. Girly? I love girly!! Because I use to like Darcy but now I love Edward and his, oh, so...romantic eyes...sigh!

  21. Alex: That's cool! Little me??/

    Nas: Yeah, I got him back don't you worry about that!

  22. This is a very interesting comparison. I can see where Meyer may have gotten her inspiration for the character. I haven't read P&P yet (I know!). I've got it on the Kindle, just haven't gotten around to it. I'm fascinated with this subject now though.

  23. Love your post!

    When I try to dissect why a character pulls me into their world, it leaves me more confused than ever.

    Mr. Darcy and Edward find love despite thinking they can never have it. That make them attractive to me. Like the song, Wicked Game, the lyrics: "I never dreamed I'd love somebody like you"
    Or something like that :)

  24. Kari Marie: Great. Go read it. It takes a bit to get into but well worth it.

    Huntress: That song is so relevant for my next post too.


  25. Great post. I am a Twilight fan and am on Team Edward, much as i like Jacob. The parallels with P&P are very interesting :O)

  26. Love Austin.

    Not exactly a fan of Twilight.

    Thanks for an interesting perspective anyway.

  27. Oh, Darcy... excuse me while I fan myself a little.

    I've really enjoyed this insight--it's led to think a lot about my WIP!

  28. Madeleine: Thanks for stopping by.

    Al: No I can't imagine.

    Amie: Came for your little Darcy fix eh?

  29. I love the comparison; it is the age old attraction that begins with thoughts of disdain. The allure and appeal of why. Great post; I loved it~

  30. Mr. Darcy was well played by Mr. Firth. Just saw him in The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I highly recommend.

  31. I cannot believe I have watched neither film, though I have read the book Pride and Prejudice a long time ago. Both are excellent at teaching you something about characters and I really must watch the Colin Firth version mmmm...

  32. I haven't seen or read twilight so I can't say I know those references however, I love the references from P&P. I like your line that says: "Like all good Byronic heroes, Edward and Darcy feel self-disgust, even if it is aimed at their love objects." I think that's so true.

  33. Ella: Yes, distain is it.

    Catherine: I hope you watch the films now.

    Clarissa: Oh those love objects!

  34. I liked it, thank you! Love the comparison. :)

  35. Since there are romantic elements in any genre, I found this helpful. It's the details that make it believable, eh? We've all experienced the attraction/revulsion flip at some point.

  36. Give me Mr Darcy any day, Edward is just too pretty. I don't like a man who's prettier than me!

    I have an award for you :)

    A x

  37. You've drawn an interesting comparison, and Colin Firth is always a good choice. :)

  38. I do not agree with you on Darcy being a Byronic hero. Firstly, the Byronic hero does not possess "heroic virtue". When Eizabeth's sister runs off with Wickham, Darcy helped track them both down and induced Wickham to marry Lidia...even when he prevented courtship between Bingley and Jane, it was with the false notion that Jane did not return Bingley's affections and he was trying to protect his friend.
    Secondly, the Byronic hero has many dark qualities. Darcy doesn't have any. He is not bent on revenge and destroying the happiness of the people around him. He is not dark at all. His only fault is his pride which he overcomes in the end.


I love hearing from you! Hit me with your wisdom!