Sunday, November 15, 2015

What to call Mr. Darcy

So once again I am not blogging about what I had intended to blog about, but this is one that I've been struggling with pretty much ever since I started writing in this genre. And that is what Elizabeth should call Mr. Darcy once they are married.

In the Constant Love series, I established that Elizabeth was having none of this Fitzwilliam nonsense early on:

“Darcy – ”

“Are you to call me Darcy, too?” he cried. “Can no one use my Christian name, not even my own wife?”

Elizabeth had spent much time meditating on what she would call him, when they were finally married, and “Fitzwilliam” had seemed too much, but she was surprised by the vehemence of his reaction.

“Darcy, you must own that Fitzwilliam has far too many syllables for everyday use. What did your parents call you?”

“Son,” he admitted, which filled her with mirth.
(Interestingly, only one reader has ever pointed out that Fitzwilliam is the same number of syllables as Elizabeth!)

I had multiple reasons for deciding to have her call him Darcy. The first and foremost is that to me, Mr. Darcy is Mr. Darcy. It's the identity he has developed throughout the entire novel in Pride and Prejudice. We've had this character for 200+ years, and none of us are on a Christian name basis with him! So to depart significantly from Mr. Darcy just seemed weird to me, and as Austen does refer to him as Darcy outside of dialogue, it seemed the least departure without Elizabeth calling him Mr. Darcy both in mixed company (when she would always call him Mr. Darcy) and among family or when they are alone.

The second is that there are already Fitzwilliams in the story. Presumably Jane Austen was not planning for there to be thousands of variations and continuations of her novel, so she never foresaw that having a character named Colonel Fitzwilliam and a character with the first name Fitzwilliam would create potential for confusion! To do a continuation, and add in even more people from the Fitzwilliam family into the mix just added to that potential for confusion.

And the third is that it somehow felt right to me that Elizabeth, who is not a conventional woman for that time, would call her husband what his male friends would. To me, it showed empowerment, and that her opinions are respected as much by him (if not more) as those of other men. And that he makes nothing more than a token protest and then allows her to continue to do so also says something about their married relationship dynamic.

I didn't get too many complaints about having done this, but there were a few readers who didn't like it, and I get that. In this new story that I've been working on, though, I've struggled with it once again. Elizabeth has been unhappily married (for a thankfully brief time) to Mr. Collins. That has changed her, and she's not exactly the same bold woman who married Mr. Darcy in ACL; one of the main themes of the story is how she returns to that, and Mr. Darcy's influence is, of course, a part of this.

So I ended up going with mostly Mr. Darcy, even once they are married, although by the time they reach this point, she is half-teasing when she calls him that. Every once and awhile, I did mix in a Fitzwilliam, and this time it felt right. Even then, it needed some explanation, and I expect every story where they make that transition to greater intimacy probably will:

“Well, Mr. Darcy, you have finally found a way to render me entirely speechless.”

“Are you still to call me Mr. Darcy, even now?”

“Why should I not? It is a name with which I have every possible pleasant association.”

“I hope it shall always continue to be.”

So I'm curious, readers -- which name do you prefer? I want to try a poll for the first time here!

What should Elizabeth call Mr. Darcy?

Mr. Darcy, all the time
Darcy, in private
Fitzwilliam, in private
It depends on the story
It doesn't really matter that much
Quiz Maker

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