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Two Darcys, Two Proposals

By on Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011 in All Things Jane | 0 comments

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I have a line in my short story for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest that harkens back to Darcy’s second proposal in Pride and Prejudice.  My line, spoken by a very contemporary British man, the hero (so to speak) of my story, is:  “I can’t stop thinking about you.  But one word from you and I’ll be silent–forever.”

I thought it would be fun to compare the original text of Pride and Prejudice to what is spoken in the 2005 movie version, when Matthew MacFayden as Darcy proposes to Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth.

(People tend to be very passionate about what movie version of Pride and Prejudice they like best.  So if you are not a fan of this version, please bear with me.)

Here are Darcy’s words, spoken by Matthew MacFayden, as he proposes the first time, in the temple of Apollo at Stourhead estate in Wiltshire (it’s gorgeous–see pic at right):

“Miss Elizabeth, I have struggled in vain and I can bear it no longer.  These last months have been a torment.  I came to Rosings for the single object of seeing you.  I had to see you.  I fought against my better judgment, my family’s expectation, the inferiority of your birth, my rank and circumstance, all these things, and I am willing to put them all aside and ask you to end my agony.
I love you–most ardently.  Please do me the honor of accepting my hand.”

And here are Darcy’s words, from the book:

“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.”

The other sentiments expressed, about the inferiority of her birth, etc., as well as the actual proposal, are not given in dialogue.

Now, let’s look at the second proposal.  Here are Matthew MacFayden’s words from the movie:

“My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever.
If, however, your feelings have changed, I would have to tell you, you have bewitched me body and soul and I love–I love–I love you, and never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

And Darcy’s actual words from the book:

“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 forever.”

These comparisons bring up all kinds of thoughts–from how novels were written 200 years ago to dramatic license of screenwriters to the immediacy of dialogue, to showing vs. telling. 

Which version gives you chills?