A Note from the Pride and Prejudice Dramaturg

Dante Flores
BA Theatre Studies: Acting ’19

A Google search for the phrase “Who is the better Darcy” yields 26,000,000 results. Within those are a wealth of pages, from blogger and publication alike, that attempt either to rank each Mr. Darcy in order of worst to best, or provide a list of reasons why one of them (usually Colin Firth in Simon Langton’s 1995 miniseries) is the best. Searching the phrase “Pride and Prejudice AND accurate costumes” yields 413,000 results. The bulk of them come down to defenses and denouncements of the costumes in Joe Wright’s 2005 film. To be sure, these debates are fun, but are we perhaps missing something here? Are we glorifying the very system that Jane Austen was herself criticizing?

Pride and Prejudice, adapted from Austen’s novel by Jon Jory and soon to be produced in Emerson’s Semel Theatre, seeks to answer these two questions. It also poses a third: despite our best intentions, how much have we really progressed? Consider the notion of the “marriage market,” a system in which women were treated as little more than the signifiers of men’s property, and which imposed on them the stiff, reserved manner so commonly associated with the time. Because we wear jeans and have cell phones, it’s easy to believe that we are distanced from it; and the better for our sensibilities that we are!

But consider this: do we not exhibit our own imposed behaviors? Do we not follow a certain set of “rules,” when we present ourselves on, say, Facebook? Do we not curate our pages so as not to seem too desperate, too friendly, too anything? How much are we willing to put on display? And are these behaviors not prescribed by a similar end: seeming to be the most impressive, accomplished person that we can? Pride and Prejudice asks these questions, and presents the consequences of such a system while telling a rich story with humor, empathy, and biting wit.  

And perhaps it’s better that we not Google “What would Darcy look like?” We may not be happy with the results.

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