August 9, 2011

two women for two single men of good fortune

PBMG No. 2: Elizabeth Bennett/ Bridget Jones and Mr. Darcy/ Mark Darcy

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Author: Jane Austen and Helen Fielding

Darcy, Darcy, Darcy. When my friends and I talk about Pride and Prejudice or I (both in literature and film) that's pretty much what it comes down to: Darcy, Darcy, Darcy. Helen Fielding used the characters in the P&P as the model for her own book. That's why I combined these two couples together — they're the same. So, for No. 2, I'm giving a two-for-one deal.

Disclaimer: I have not read the Bridget Jones column as it appeared in British newspapers. As far as I'm concerned, her story ends with the books.

The scoop on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and Bridget and Mark Darcy

Elizabeth Bennett: The second of five daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. Her father is a gentleman, but due to irresponsible spending and lack of planning, their family estate will go to a cousin, leaving the daughters virtually penniless unless they marry well. She's considered pretty and witty by her friends and family.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The finest catch a single gal could hope to find in a husband. He's rich, he's handsome and he's a gentleman. At the beginning, he's a bit of a proud jerk. (What can I say? Flaws are hot.)

Bridget Jones: A thirty-something single woman, Bridget has a lackluster career and an even more pitiful love life. Her parents are separated, and she's having a tough time at life. Though she worries incessantly about her weight — and the number of cigarettes she's smoked and units of booze she's drank — she's considered pretty and witty by her friends.

Mark Darcy: The finest catch a single gal could hope to find in a husband. He's rich, he's handsome and he's a lawyer. At the beginning, he's a bit of a proud jerk.

Wow. Look at the similarities.

The meet cute

In P&P, Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy meet at a country dance where Darcy's pride prevents him from acquainting himself with those below his station. When Lizzy overhears him hating on her — ("She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men" (page 7) — her prejudice to dislike him is created.

Likewise, in BJD Bridget is reintroduced Mark Darcy at her mother's New Year's Day turkey curry buffet. Unfortunately, I lent my copy of the book to a friend back in college and she never returned it (which is why, dear reader, I am now stand-offish when asked to lend a book), so I can't give you the juicy quote, except to paraphrase: Mark doesn't think too highly of Bridget based on her first impression.

So all hope of a relationship seems doomed, before it can begin.

Scene stealer

P&P: Elizabeth stands up to Darcy's aunt Lady Catherine and refuses to never develop a relationship with him. This sets off the chain of events, which brings Darcy back to Elizabeth's neighborhood for a visit. There, Elizabeth thanks for saving her family from a recent scandal, and the guy ultimately gets the girl.

BJD: This Darcy also saves Bridget's family from a potential scandal, and whisks her away from an awkward Christmas Day with her family for a little romance.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason: Though not dating at the moment, Bridget stays with Darcy (for reasons you'll have to read) and after running into each other in the hall and startling the other, the two collapse on the stairs to catch their breath. In that moment, they confess that they miss and love each other and decide to give their relationship another go.

(Though BJ:EOR was actually based on Persuasion, I'm counting it in this section, because it's the same characters — and because I still have this copy in my possession.)

Why I love them

While first impressions are important, and many people use them to define their whole opinion of a person, they don't always give us a full picture of what we're working with.

How often does a person fall madly in love with a person upon first meeting them? I've heard of people feeling instant chemistry, or maybe interest, but in my experience, romance usually develops over time. So why not have a couple (or rather couples) who learn to change and open their minds to the possibility of love with a person who they thought they new but never did.

Aside from that, Darcy and Elizabeth are arguably one of the most famous couples in all of literature and Austen's work had a profound impact on English literature. BJD is considered to be the novel that defined Chick-Lit.

Both books are pioneers in their respective fields. Who am I to argue with that logic?

Best lines

"If you will thank me... let it bet for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you, might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. But your family owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe, I thought only of you... You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever."
(P&P page 266)

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."
 (P&P: Darcy accounts for when he fell in love with Elizabeth, page 276)

Then he said the house was big, cold and lonely without me. And he really liked it best in my flat where it was cozy. And he said that he loved me, he wasn't exactly sure why, but nothing was any fun without me.
(BJ:EOR, page 304)

"It's been such a great week. This must be what people do all the time! They go to work, and then they come home and the other person's there, and then they just chat and watch the television and the cook food. It's amazing."
(BJ:EOR, page 306)

"Rebecca," said Mark quietly, "I need Bridget."
(BJ:EOR, page 323 - Mark's response to another woman's attempt to come on to him)

Read the original post to learn more about this series.

Check back Thursday for the final couple — No. 1. Tomorrow, I'll do a quick recap of the others — in case you missed them. Then on Friday, I'll give my final impressions on this whole project.

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