The Darcy Monologues
This short story will consist of six "extemporaneous rants" expressed by Fitzwilliam Darcy, beginning when he leaves Hunsford Cottage and ending with his wedding to Elizabeth Bennet.
Who does she think she is?
Elizabeth Bennet! She of the fine eyes and the pert opinions, she of that mocking smile and the unrivaled audacity to boldly challenge my every word and subject my judgment to ridicule for her own amusement: who does she think she is? Who is she, the daughter of a country gentleman without wealth or connections, to refuse me? Who would have thought an Elizabeth Bennet would reject a Fitzwilliam Darcy? Who knew that behind those fine eyes lurked such a temper? Who could have imagined the incivility with which she discarded my offer for her hand? Who in her right mind would refute my declaration of love with such argument and obstinacy? Who would have guessed that Elizabeth Bennet would call me 'the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry'?
That such a person, scarcely more than a child out of her nurse's lap (for what woman who has lived long in the world would persist in such behavior and hope to secure a husband) should lecture me on how to comport myself in society is insupportable! That she should distort the circumstance that brought me to her side to vent her anger over her sister's disappointment is ill-timed at best and ill-mannered, certainly! And she called me 'un-gentleman-like'!
'You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.' May I be the last man in the world who would ever be fool enough to make her an offer! May her fine eyes and mocking smile stand her in good stead as she patrols the perimeter of the dance floor as fawning chaperone to her sisters' daughters. Let her live out her life as a spinster and plague her acquaintance with her biting wit and malicious tongue. Let her always regret this day--yes, let it be a lesson unforgotten, Elizabeth Bennet, for as long as you live.
To imagine that I could not discern the artifice behind a Jane Bennet smile! She would have ensnared poor Bingley in a hopeless trap as assuredly as I have been spared this day. I give her credit, at least, for having a modest ambition. Or perhaps she merely thought Bingley the easier target? Perhaps she did. Jane Bennet is not clever enough for me by half, although the prettier of the two. No, better to let Elizabeth Bennet attempt me; I am by far the greater challenge and she far better suited to the challenge. And by God, she very nearly succeeded!
How dare she accuse me--Fitzwilliam Darcy--of un-gentleman-like behavior? The son and heir of one of the finest families in all of England: un-gentleman-like? Proper gratitude for a man who would have elevated you, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the daughter of a country gentleman nobody to the first circles of society, a status you had neither the wealth, nor the connections, nor indeed, sufficient ambition to aspire to! Un-gentleman-like? Was it ungentlemanly, perhaps, that I should come to enquire after your health? Perhaps it was un-gentleman-like for me to withhold my sentiments for so long as I struggled to know my own heart. Perhaps she would have been happier had I fawned over her and flattered her and filled her ears with precious nonsense like that hovering swarm of clerks and butcher's sons that followed her about that assembly.
I am undeceived. I had imagined myself in love. I have never been so mistaken in all my life! Me, in love with a woman of such low birth and connections? With no fortune to her name nor one whit of personality to recommend her, with a pair of immature and forward sisters who traipse about Meryton after the officers like common camp followers, encouraged by a mother who is nothing short of a constant embarrassment. I would rather believe the two eldest Miss Bennets, in spite of themselves, adopted than that they were nurtured in the same womb from which sprang that pair. And I very nearly plight my troth with her, of my own volition. Dear mother, dear father, if I can take any comfort in your deaths let it be that I spared you the humiliation I was about to visit upon myself.
And as to her warm defense of George Wickham: 'Who that knows what his misfortunes have been can help feeling an interest in him?' Misfortunes? His only misfortune is to have failed miserably in his effort to blackmail me. Elizabeth Bennet, a gentleman's daughter defends a penniless libertine, a man who would have ruined my innocent sister and undoubtedly many another's sibling in order to bankroll his life of debauchery and gambling! No, Wickham! You will not win this time! For all that I am disposed to think ill of Miss Bennet I will not leave her to think well of you. She shall be disabused of her wrongful impression. Despise me if she will, I will not allow her to suffer the same fate as my dearest Georgiana, for her family has not the good sense to protect her from the likes of George Wickham. I can do that much for her. Propriety and my broken heart owe her that much.
This being the second:
What was I thinking, giving her that letter?
What ever lead me to believe that I could simply dispatch in a mere few sheets of paper both my moral obligation and the totality of my lingering sentiment for that woman, as if she could be purged like so much sick from my stomach? I had meant to do right by you, Miss Eliza Bennet, in spite of your vindictive rejection of my suit. I wanted only to warn you about Wickham. I feared that he had managed to gain your trust; I wanted to spare you the heartache and self-recrimination, the guilt... I know all too well what Wickham is capable of and what he leaves in his wake. I would see you spared that infamy. But my words took on a life of their own that sleepless night as I put pen to paper. My temper got the best of me, and my missive--intended to exonerate and inform, became spiteful. I never intended that. I had imagined myself to be calm and rational. I thought my emotions were under control. I was wrong, in more ways than I could imagine.
She had to know the truth. She would hear and believe, in spite of the hostility she held for me. She looked at me that morning with--it would be inaccurate to call it contempt. It was less than contempt. It was less than anger. Elizabeth Bennet, whom I would have given everything--my home, my heart, my life; I was nothing to her. Elizabeth Bennet looked upon me and saw nothing. No anger, no passion, just discomfort. The sight of me aroused nothing in her so much as awkwardness. How wrong was I to think that I could ever have captured her affections! She is completely bereft of feeling. Heartless woman!
But it was imperative that I overlook that and give her that letter. I was convinced that I had done the right thing in writing to her, and in giving it into her care I thought I had done with her. I was greatly mistaken.
What made me think that I could so easily be rid of her, that giving full vent to the thoughts that tormented me that night would forevermore free me of her? What will it take to be rid of you, Elizabeth Bennet? Am I doomed to be bewitched by your elusive smile and dancing eyes till the end of my days? What I would give to have never set foot in Hertfordshire, a tedious place with not a thing to recommend it but your beguiling wit and your unsuspected cruelty! What I would pay to be able to say that I had never laid eyes upon you!
I am a fool for succumbing to a love that was never meant to be. I had rather kept my council and preserved my heart and my dignity. She made me weak--yes! She weakened my resolve and made me lower my guard. She lured me with her teasing manner and feminine wiles. She toyed with me, lead me on; I could not have been persuaded to seek her hand else. And then, having cornered her prey, like the fat cat in a barn, she discarded me for another day's sport. But I shall not weaken again, Miss Bennet. I will not be cuckolded twice.
And yet, she won't let me rest. She continues to tempt me. She continues to torment me. She won't let me breathe...she mocks, me, reproaches me, suffocates me. Could I have been so wrong about her? I had not thought her capable of this. Was I wrong to love her? Was I wrong to hope? Am I to be thus tortured forever?
What will it take, Miss Bennet, for me to be myself again? Free my heart, Miss Bennet! Free me from my imprisonment in your cold and sterile heart and let me be a man again and no longer your pitiable slave!
This being the third:
When did this change take place?
When did her look of disgust and repulsion--which had become a permanent feature in my mind's eye--turn into something less evil and more benign; a look of patience, perhaps? Do I deceive myself in presuming it to be a look of understanding? Or is it arrogance on my part to think so? When did this arrogance replace the lessons taught by my parents and their good example become so distorted? When did I become the man she so despised? And given every incentive for you to do so, my dear Miss Bennet, by what act of divine providence were you rendered capable of reaching past your anger to appoint yourself my savior?
Unbeknownst to my conscious mind, a part of me has allowed myself to learn lessons from you I had never thought myself in need of. I have embraced these lessons and have learned genuine humility. I have acknowledged glaring deficiencies in my character and have sought to amend them. I have learned that your respect is as precious to me as your love could ever be, and by neglecting one, I...to my everlasting regret, I have forfeited any claim to the other. You were right, Elizabeth; you were right. And yet, I am not the villain you made me out to be. I was a better man once, and with your counsel, I will be a better man again. I will learn from this if you will teach me.
When did you--Elizabeth Bennet--cease to be my tormentor and become my guide? When did I become your most eager pupil? You would be astonished, I am certain, if you were to know of this conquest. You have won, Elizabeth! I surrender to your better judgment, to your superiority of mind, and your generosity of spirit. I surrender to your argument, that I am a man unworthy of your love, unworthy of your respect. Is it too late for me, Elizabeth? Can I never hope to become worthy of you?
I can think of nothing in defense of myself. Lord knows I have tried to fix the blame elsewhere, but I am invariably encumbered by the reality of those very actions I revealed to you in that accursed letter. Why did I ever commit those words to paper? They have been etched upon my brain ever since, condemning me to live every day since with the harsh and unvarnished truth of my actions. "Arrogance...selfish disdain for the feelings of others." You have no idea how much those have words haunted me even more than my own. They angered me, then haunted, me, then taught me. You were right, Elizabeth, and for my actions I must suffer.
I have lost you forever.
You would laugh at that declaration! You would blithely deflect that avowal and call it for what it is: an arrogant presumption on my part. You would say that you were never mine to lose, and you would be correct. Oh, but Elizabeth! In my heart you always have been and always will be mine. You have found a permanent place there against your own will and mine. I will no longer endeavor to purge you. No, I have made my peace with fate and will nurture you there in my breast, a memory--regrettable and bittersweet.
It is all a moot point, this--I will probably never see you again. But I will take some comfort from knowing that the world will see a better Fitzwilliam Darcy because Elizabeth Bennet touched his miserable life, however briefly. But our too brief acquaintance will not fade like some ephemeral thing: you shall be with me always. You have saved me, Elizabeth, and I shall ever more be a man changed. I will endeavor always in future to be a man worthy of your friendship, if not your love. But I am also destined to be a man alone, for if I must live without your love, I am doomed to a life of solitude and remorse.
This being the fourth rant
Where did she come from?
From whence came Elizabeth Bennet, a glorious apparition, to stand in my garden amidst my roses and put them all to shame? Have you lost your senses, Darcy or is she really and truly there? Should I approach will she disappear into the vapor with the morning dew? She speaks to my roses and I am giddy with delight, a man emerging from a dream; she is real! She turns and sees me. Her blush frames her face in an awkward caress and I envy it. Elizabeth Bennet stands not ten feet away. Her presence intoxicates me and I am drawn to her like a man to drink.
Where is my tongue? I cannot utter a coherent sentence and I flee in terror of my own discomposure. But I cannot stay away. I must return to her, and like a man emerging from a long slumber I am reborn in the glow of her presence. Elizabeth! Sweet, lovely Elizabeth! You are every inch what you were last spring, and all the more beautiful for the deprivation. I could not look upon anything else on this earth and find it as dear as the sight of your face.
Where have I been? I stand in something of a stupor upon my steps craning my neck to see her. She is nearly half a mile away now, the carriage a dark speck amid the green. And yet I cannot take my eyes off of her. She was here! She is here! Elizabeth Bennet is in Derbyshire! She has trod upon the grounds of Pemberley, she walked its paths--she graced my roses and statuary with her smile. And she spared a smile for me, a treasure worth all the gold in Europe. My heart pulsates with joy!
I wanted to giggle like a schoolboy as I walked by your side, Elizabeth. I wanted to take your hand and run through the woods and play hide and seek until we were completely and utterly lost. And I never wanted to be found, so long as you were beside me. But I had to school my inclinations to admit nothing of these carefree thoughts as we strolled the grounds. But it was not your chaperones I feared, Elizabeth: it is your heart. Have you forgiven me, Elizabeth? Can you ever forgive me for being such a disappointment?
I must bring her back to Pemberley.
You must come back. Yes, Elizabeth, I must have you back. I must see you here within these walls so desperately in need of the sound of your laughter, the feminine touch of your hand to make it a home again. I long to see you on that settee, that arch smile about your lips as we debate the relative merits of Donne and Milton. I long to have your opinions on my choice of silk for the drapes in the dining room or the number of candles that illuminate our supper. Other women would rule here, but you, Elizabeth, are Pemberley's proper queen. I need you here to fill these halls with the warmth and love that last resided here when my parents were master and mistress of this estate. I need you here, Elizabeth, to fill my heart and make my life complete.
I love you, Elizabeth, as I have never known man to love woman before. I was a fool to think that I loved you in Kent. I had not yet learned what love is. I was merely enchanted, a man obsessed. I am now a man in love. Your wise counsel taught me what it was to love. You, Elizabeth taught me what it was to feel! I have learned the pain of loss and the pain of longing. I have learned and welcomed the pain of loving someone who could not love me in return. And yet, my heart remains yours, constant and bleeding.
That smile today, as we innocently discussed the beauties of Blenheim Palace, and the sights to be seen about Derbyshire and the Lakes, told me that you no longer despised me. It spoke of such amiability as I was used to seeing in you in Hertfordshire, although such a smile was never bestowed upon me. Was I wrong, therefore, to take encouragement from it? Dare I believe that we might become friends at last? Dare I hope for something more?
You are home, Elizabeth. You are here in Derbyshire where you are meant to be. I must not lose you again. My prayers have been answered and I have learned to hope. I must succeed. I must risk all and win you now or lose you forever. No--I must and will win! This is no arrogant presumption, my beloved. I have no illusion that you will return my love. But I will--I must--endeavor to win you. I will return your favor, Elizabeth, and teach you to love me as you taught me to love myself. You will see the man I have become, the man I was once. You will see a man reborn and renewed by his love for you. A man transformed by his desire to make himself worthy to be loved by you in return.
This being the fifth rant
Why did I ever leave Hertfordshire?
Why did I drag Bingley to Longbourn and his fate only to flee again in terror of my own? Why did I leave my beloved Elizabeth in any doubt of my continued regard; why did I not ascertain whether that spark of hope that had surely been ignited at Pemberley had been nurtured into a steady flame in Elizabeth's breast, as it had done in my own heart. Do you yet carry it in your heart, my love? Say it smolders still and I will be the happiest man alive.
I was a coward, one brave enough to face Bingley's wrath yet too afraid of your scorn to look you fully in the eye and read my fate. But now I must rally myself and return to Hertfordshire, for the courage I lacked did not fail my relation! No! Aunt Catherine dared tread where I would not go and unwittingly took your measure. I have my answer; I must come to you promptly, before my heart fails me again. As soon as the carriage is brought around I will quit this place and not see London again until I have claimed your hand or failed in the attempt.
Lady Catherine knows not what service she has done me. Even now she suffers under a misconception I am loath to disabuse her of. Let her think she has won. Yes, let her wallow in that deception for a while. For if she realized what she unwittingly revealed to me today, she would not have spared an hour to lecture me on the impertinence and unsuitability of Elizabeth Bennet. Indeed, she might not have approached me at all, if she knew what secret she unintentionally revealed. Lady Catherine...my dear aunt, how ironic it is that she should be the one to provide all the assurances I needed! That she should be the one to tell me what burdened Elizabeth's heart that painful day when she left Derbyshire was scarcely to be expected! And yet, dear Lady, it is to you I owe all hope of future happiness!
There are others to whom I may also give credit. Why should my aunt have all the glory? Your own relations have proven themselves worthy advocates on my behalf, Elizabeth, and in the process have endeared themselves to me as good people whose friendship I will always value highly. Through your aunt and uncle I have learned something of your personality. You are your aunt's niece, Elizabeth, a compliment to that gracious lady who has undoubtedly been a considerable influence. An hour in her company last week taught me more about you than I thought possible. And your uncle, a shameless promoter of your happiness, gave me confidence where I thought none existed. Had my aunt not materialized on my doorstep this morning, I would probably have been at Longbourn at week's end by grace of Mr. Gardiner's will, if nothing else! Never have I met two more generous hearted people. They treasure you, and their honest concern for your happiness (and my own!) endears them all the more.
I am on my way to you, my Elizabeth, a humble supplicant. My pride has been mastered, my manner altered. I will be worthy of you, my dearest heart. I will bide my time and earn your love if you are as yet unwilling to give it. I will do as you have taught me: behave in a gentlemanlike manner. I will endure your mother's...whims in good humor, for who can despise the woman who has made your existence a reality? I will charm the denizens of Meryton and bear the inquisition of your Aunt Philips with quiet dignity. I will succeed at any task you lay me to, Elizabeth. You are worth any price, any sacrifice. And I hope to be rewarded with your hand. I dare to hope for your love, your heart...your future entwined irrevocably with my own. I will offer all that I have. And I have Lady Catherine to thank for the joy I hope your answer will bring, for she has won the heart I dared not claim as my due.
This being the sixth and final Rant
How can one man bear so much joy?
How could I ever have aspired to such happiness? Today, in mere hours, Elizabeth will be mine, no longer a Bennet. Pemberley will have a new mistress and I will be a man complete. We will leave Hertfordshire today, man and wife. I am a knot of anticipation, and prowl the halls of Netherfield like a man unhinged by inner torment. But on this day I am tormented only by the prospect of happiness. How will I survive these last three hours of my bachelorhood? I look forward to resigning that status in favor of a new one: husband. I wonder how Elizabeth feels about becoming a wife?
In one hour I will stand before the Reverend Peters and plight my troth with Elizabeth, but I will not enter into the state of matrimony alone. Bingley there, giddy as a schoolboy, will stand beside me as best man and fellow bridegroom. I owe that man much. Were it not for his impetuous decision to lease a property in this far-flung hamlet I would never have met Elizabeth Bennet. (What a thought to have on this most important day of my life!) I look at Bingley, who wears his joy on his face--beaming idiotically--while I prefer to carry mine in my heart to be shared with only one other. I imagine, though, that when Elizabeth's hand is placed in mine and I slip this valued heirloom upon her finger, my joy will burst forth for all the world to see.
Charles Bingley: he suffered much, and much of his suffering was of my making. I shall never be able to make proper recompense for my transgression. He has forgiven me, however, I cannot look into his eyes without being cognizant of the wrong I did him. He says that his marriage to Jane today will even the score in his books. But my conscience plagues me still and I will see him married today with one regret: that his joy at making Jane Bennet his wife has been far too long in coming.
I stand here in this house of the Lord grateful beyond measure for the gift that I am to be given. Surprisingly, I find myself impatient, rather than nervous. I suppose that is because my very survival depends upon the events of the next...she is here. I can sense her nearness before I even see her; I am instantly intoxicated by the delicious scent of lavender.
I see her! My Elizabeth is a vision. She smiles at me and my heart--which has beat only for her since that day I first learned to love her--has stopped. No...I breathe, I think--but it matters not. Nothing matters until she is mine. Good Lord, Darcy, control yourself! My knees quake and my mouth is dry. I am undone, a man bewitched. The orange blossoms in her hand twitch and my heart stops again. Is she having doubts? Her smile says no, but she looks upon her father with a glint of sadness in her eyes.
I shall deprive you of your most prized possession, Mr. Bennet. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to you for bringing Elizabeth into this world and your willingness to sacrifice her to my custody. I could not imagine making such a sacrifice...but I will treasure her always, you need not fear for her comfort or security. Know that your Elizabeth will be loved, and cared for. She will want for nothing but your company, and that she shall have whenever she wishes it. Your Elizabeth will be happy as my Elizabeth. I promise you that, sir.
Her blush distracts me as I struggle to hear the words of the good Reverend. He smiles at me as though he understands my confusion. I do not falter when the time comes. I take Elizabeth to be my wife with a clear and steady voice. She, in turn, accepts me as her husband with words that shall forever be etched in my memory. And then it's over and I turn to face the congregation...my bride's former congregation. I escort my bride up the aisle looking for all the world like Bingley's long lost twin. As I feared, I cannot stop smiling; I cannot and will not suppress my joy!
Fitzwilliam winks at me. He, no doubt, finds amusement in this turn of my countenance. Get used to it, dear cousin. I shall be smiling thus for all the remaining days of my life. You will come to recognize this happy man as your relation, and I hope that someday you, too, will undergo such a transformation at the hands of a good woman whose heart will capture your own.
We brave the crowds of well wishers as we make a mad dash for the carriage that is to transport us to Longbourn. A few hours from now we leave for London and a new life, a life together as one. How could I have known on that morning last September that my future, my life, would begin here? How could I have known that the woman whom I once thought "not handsome enough to tempt me" would be the woman who made my life complete? Where I was once unwilling to spare her the length of time it would take to dance a set, I now find myself jealous of anyone and anything that takes her attention away from me.
She sleeps. My wife, Elizabeth lies in my bed--our bed-our marriage is complete. But our lives as husband and wife are just begun. Oh Elizabeth, I love you! All that you are and all that I am, we are nothing apart from each other. I was less than a man when I did not know you, and should God deign to take you away from me I shall be a man no longer, just a hollow shell--a facade. For such I was when I first met you, my beloved, and such I would yet be if I had to face the world without you by my side. You have completed me, Elizabeth; do I complete you?
It would pain me to think that I could not make you as happy as you have made me. I am not sure how I could live with such a disappointment, nor could I imagine myself to be so generous of spirit or courage as to release you to find your own happiness. If I have any remaining flaw, it is that I am far too selfish to ever let you go. No, Elizabeth, you must henceforth find your happiness here with me. I promise to do all in my power to see that you are happy.
I promise, Elizabeth, that you will never regret joining your future with mine. I swear to always love you as much as I do at this moment, and that you shall never have reason to question the commitment that we made to each hour less than twenty-four hours ago. My Elizabeth...my sweet, beloved, beautiful angel before me...I look upon you lying there serene and weep with joy in the knowledge that you are finally mine.
© 2001 Copyright held by author