Mr Darcy

Outer characterisation

In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, Derbyshire is a wealthy man whose fortune is estimated at £10,000 a year (p. 6). He is 28 years old (p. 259), has a sister, Georgiana, and his parents have died (p. 141).

He is also the nephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and is intended to marry her daughter. However, by the end of the novel, he marries the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. He is also a close friend of another key character, Charles Bingley, and the cousin of Colonel Fitzwilliam.

A few details are offered about his physical traits, suggesting he is a good-looking man:

Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien [...] The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley. (p. 6)

In another excerpt, we see Darcy from Mrs. Gardiner’s point of view: “He has not an ill-natured look. On the contrary, there is something pleasing about his mouth when he speaks. And there is something of dignity in his countenance that would not give one an unfavourable idea of his heart.” (p. 178).

Inner characterisation

Darcy’s inner characterisation is constructed both directly by the narrator and other characters and indirectly through his speech, actions, thoughts, and attitudes.

In the beginning of the novel, Darcy comes across as being disagreeable, because he is very aware of class differences and his superior social status. This makes him seem vain and proud. As a wealthy aristocrat with a cold attitude, Darcy makes everyone in Meryton dislike him: “Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well-bred, were not inviting.” (p. 10). For example, during the first ball, Darcy argues that “Every savage can dance” (p. 17), showing his snobbish contempt for the happy village people dancing.

He is uncomfortable in social situations except amongst his close friends. He later tells Elizabeth that he is “ill-qualified to recommend myself to strangers” (p. 123). He goes on to say: “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess [...] of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done” (p. 123). This also shows that Darcy is aware of at least some of his failings.

At first, he is not attracted to Elizabeth, refusing to invite her to dance: “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” (p. 7). However, as the story progresses, he becomes attracted to her despite his reason...

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