In the spirit of Jane Austen Day… although let’s be real, I think every day is Jane Austen day.
The thing I liked best about today’s episode of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (which I really do love, though my love is complicated by stuff like the fact it’s much beloved and helmed by two dudes, and I have feelings of uncertainty about dudes getting huge acclaim working from the work of Jane ‘The Pen Has Been In Their Hands’ Austen, see: Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)… was not Darcy and Lizzie laughing and flirting. Though I enjoyed that very much!
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has been really good about acknowledging how, in this day and age, single adult women tend to have jobs. Not just acknowledging it but incorporating it as a vital part of the plot: Mr Collins now offers Charlotte a job instead of proposing to her, and Charlotte is portrayed as right to accept it—jobs mean more choices and more chance of happiness for women.
Darcy is still in a position of power compared to Lizzie: he’s a rich CEO and she’s a student whose family has money troubles. She’s not being paid for her work, i.e. the videos she’s making to tell this updated version of Pride and Prejudice. But in this episode Darcy recognises her videos as valid creative work—when she puts them down a bit (because unpaid work isn’t meant to be valuable, ladies are meant to be modest about what they do), he’s like: no, they are amazing, let me discuss why, let’s discuss how valuable it is to have work you both love and are good at, giving the world something useful and enjoyable and gaining personal satisfaction from that. He admires and does not dismiss her passion: he loves her more for it.
Part of the enduring appeal of Pride and Prejudice is that Darcy loves Elizabeth, not just because she’s pretty (he’s initially not that impressed) but because she’s smart and funny and who she is ends up making her infinitely appealing to him.
Pride and Prejudice quote from Darcy, when reminded he once thought Elizabeth wasn’t all that: ‘That was when I first knew her; for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.’
A modern Darcy gets to say ‘What you do is great’ as well as ‘who you are is great.’
… I think that’s great. ;)