Not to belabor the point, but I must chime in on Heather’s excellent post on Mr. Darcy. I, too, am a lover of P & P (only the BBC version will do). It began when my college English professor played a portion of the film in our lit class. A friend and I watch it yearly, just after Thanksgiving.
The truth is, this story evokes something in a woman’s heart that is worth considering. One of my favorite passages from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller makes this point:
Here’s a tip I’ve never used: I understand you can learn a great deal about girldom by reading “Pride and Prejudice,” and I own a copy, but I have never read it. I tried. It was given to me by a girl with a little note inside that read: “What is in this book is the heart of a woman.” I am sure the heart of a woman is pure and lovely, but the first chapter of said heart is hopelessly boring. Nobody dies at all. I keep the book on my shelf because girls come into my room, sit on my couch, and eye the books on the adjacent shelf. “You have a copy of Pride and Prejudice,” they exclaim in a gentle sigh and smile. “Yes,” I say. “Yes, I do.”
While I don’t advocate men using Pride and Prejudice as a means to impress women (although I find this anecdote amusing), there is a nugget of truth in Miller’s observation. What is it about the story that “is the heart of a woman”? Heather gave two examples: a woman’s desire to bring out the best in a guy, and her attraction to a faithful, devoted, strong man.
I have another to add. Women swoon over Mr. Darcy because he is strongly and exclusively drawn to Elisabeth. He sees who she is — a reader, a walker, a devoted sister — and he cannot help but love her for the things that make her unique among women (despite the fact that she is not an ideal match for him socially). That is a woman’s dream. To be seen, accepted and desired for who she is.
Additionally, as some commentors noted, both characters change. They bring out the best in one another — and challenge each other on their shortcomings — which is one of the primary functions of marriage: “As iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17). Of course, this type of refinement can happen outside of a romantic context, but romance and marriage can be a special glue that allows such influence to “set.”
In this sense, the dream of changing someone is not an unbiblical fantasy (although it is God who does the changing). If you open your heart to someone, both of you will change. That’s not even a question. If the changes you desire to see are those that drive both of you closer to the Savior, then such a dream is not wrong.
My take on the whole P & P issue is to keep your dreams about love and marriage as long as they flow from the heart of God. Philippians 4:8 may be a good test: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Personally, I think Mr. Darcy’s character fits the bill.