Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mr. Darcy Proposes Again

My husband and I went to see Woody Allen's new movie, Magic in the Moonlight with Colin Firth as a melancholy magician who sets out to prove that Emma Stone, the supposed psychic medium is a fraud. Of course, he ends up falling in love with her--it's a rather lightweight Woody Allen movie and its supposed discussion of whether there is anything beyond this life on earth is really beside the point of the movie. It's set in 1928 in the south of France (Coe d'Azur and Provence), the costumes are excellent and the music is fun.

Colin Firth, however, must have experienced a moment of deja vu as he played his character, Stanley, because as he proposed to Sophie he seems to be channeling (just to use one of Sophie's terms) another character. Stanley's proposal of marriage is diffident and proud, just as Mr. Darcy's was to Elizabeth in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:

"In vain I have 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."
Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement; and the avowal of all that he felt, and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority-- of its being a degradation-- of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man's affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and, when he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said:

"In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot-- I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation."
You can watch Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy both insult Elizabeth's family and social connections while expressing his love even though it's unreasonable and irresponsible of him in this clip from 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice:
 It's a long way from Jane Austen to Woody Allen!

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