“My bride is here,” he said, again drawing me to him, “because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?”
“…Am I a liar in your eyes?” he asked, passionately. “Little sceptic, you shall be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? None: and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I have taken pains to prove…. I would not—I could not—marry Miss Ingram. You—you strange, you almost unearthly thing!—I love you as my own flesh. You—poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are—I entreat to accept me as a husband.”
From Jane Eyre, Chapter 23
Literature blew open my world last year. Ever since I stepped into it, it has been such an adventure full of incredible stories, daring pursuits, dastardly villains, and magnificent heroes. Within all of that, however, there is the inexplicably strange, tempestuous, gentle, and peaceful promise of romance.
I mean the kind of romance in which a young man graciously pursues the young woman he loves with the sole intention of winning her heart and marrying her. The kind of stories like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, A Girl of the Limberlost, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women.
So, when I first poured over those books at around the age of fifteen, I was completely bedazzled by the kind, gentle, and chivalrous hearts of the men in those stories. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Edward Rochester, Gilbert Blythe, Henry Tilney, George Knightley, and even Captain Wentworth.
The men of these stories are heroic, gentle, brave, and above all, each highly values the woman he pursues. So many times since reading those books have I thought many thoughts about my ever-approaching romance. It will be a few years, I am reckoning, but still, it comes. Ever closer every day, it comes.
And then, I take a step into the world to do this thing called “life.”
The world in which the gentlemanly manners of Mr. Darcy have long been banished from young men’s hearts. Where romance is but a fleeting moment of passion between two people and chivalry is far removed.
Where have all the good men gone?
Since I began reading my beautiful Victorian/Georgian romances, I have become increasingly aware of the absence of chivalry and gentleness in the character of that other species more commonly known as “the male.” In my everyday interaction with this species of human being, with the exception of my father and brothers of course, I am heartily disappointed and disheartened as I wander.
Where have all the chivalrous men gone?
When the young man opening the door at the restaurant for his friends leaves it to slam in my face, I sincerely and honestly wonder: where have all the Mr. Darcy’s gone?
A lot of people immersed in the so-called “real life romance” scenario create memes and obnoxious jokes about how Jane Austen has given women unrealistic expectations that can never be fulfilled since she first got started in 1811.
Fun fact I learned in my psychology class: millennials are bringing the divorce rate way down. Why? Because no one is getting married.
For this Austenian, waiting here at Longbourne to be romantically pursued by my Mr. Darcy, the odds are looking grim. In a world that is far removed from the Georgian day of Jane Austen, where romance is portrayed so vilely in film, music, and books, and where commitment is scarce, I suppose that it is all but natural to feel as though the chances of romantic love have vaporized and chivalrous gentlemen are absent.
Do I put high expectations upon men? Yes, and I blame Mr. Darcy and the UK for that. My expectations are improbable, perhaps, but never impossible.
In my own life, though never romantically, I have been in the presence of that rare, chivalrous gentleman. He comes every so often, and whenever I am in the presence of such a one, it is humbling and provides me with a sap of hope to hang on to.
For example, my awesome father is such a one…naturally. Duh. And then there’s my emerging kid brothers…. They are already little gentlemen. And, just so you don’t accuse me of using my family as examples, I’ll list a few more: a young man I used to know in Colorado named London (ironically enough), a friend I had named Isaac in my home school graduating class, and another friend I used to have in Colorado named…oh…I forget, I think it was Richard? All of these young men were such wonderful gentlemen, and I never felt “compromised” in any way whenever I spent time in their company.
Anyways, what I mean to say is that the spirit of Mr. Darcy and his fellows is alive today. Albeit rare, it still exists. One of my friends, for instance, just found herself a Mr. Darcy, and I’m so happy for her.
I still wait. I look out at the world from the tower in which I wait for that one. And don’t laugh, but when he comes, and he will, I’ll know it. I’ll know him by his manner, his respect for me, his valuation of me, and his honor. His love of God will be what defines him, and I am getting so excited talking about this 😛 !
And then there’s always that “profession” moment in each novel, where the young man has to tell the young woman of his feelings for her. That will probably be the moment that “seals the deal,” so to speak, for me.
So, am I nervous? Absolutely. But, do I believe in the possibility of a Mr. Darcy? Oh yes, yes I do.
And let me just say that I didn’t even like the Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fassbender Jane Eyre movie, I just loved this picture. The movie, though…ugh. It was so bad. READ THE BOOK! Just don’t watch the movie.
Anyways, back to the point.
I believe in the possibility of a Mr. Darcy because I believe in a God who has raised up myriads upon myriads of men throughout history who respect, pursue, and fall in love with gracious young ladies. I believe in a God who has given me examples of young, rare, chivalrous, and godly men in today’s society. I believe in a God who is chivalrous and gentle.
Until then, I wait. I pray. I read.
Read what? More Victorian/Georgian books, of course! *giggles hysterically*
And before I close, I quote:
“This generation has lost the true meaning of romance. There are so many songs that disrespect women. You can’t treat the woman you love as a piece of meat. You should treat your love like a princess. Give her love songs, something with real meaning. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to respect the woman you love should be a priority.”
And that’s yet another reason I blame the UK for my high expectations on men. I thank thee plenteously, Tom.
My message, lovelies, is this: keep waiting, keep praying, and keep believing in the possibility of a Mr. Darcy. Set a high value upon yourselves, realize how much you are worth, and let Christ bring to you that kind, chivalrous, and warm-hearted gentleman to sweep you off your feet.
It still happens!
Oh, and I have finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!!!! I told you I would finish it fairly quickly, didn’t I? Well, I was right.
Please be on the lookout for that upcoming spotlight post! I am so excited about this one! I am currently reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s funny because I don’t even like the character Hamlet. My favorite character is probably Horatio, because he always brings Hamlet back down to reality. I have already identified Hamlet’s Aristotelian “tragic hero flaw,” which we will discuss in detail for that spotlight post.
And, lastly, this is my favorite moment in the Pride and Prejudice 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. All good things during this moment! All good things! Mr. Darcy still lives, my friends!
Now THAT movie was definitely worth a watch. I still have to watch Miss Austen Regrets, BBC’s Emma TV series, and the old Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. I’ve read a lot of the books, but still need to explore the film adaptations. Just don’t watch the 2011 Jane Eyre.
Fare thee well, friends,
P.S. Happy St. Crispin’s Day!!!