It is a truth universally acknowledged that since its publication in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has beautifully and accurately outlined the dangerous realm of first impressions. You can, in a moment, deem someone or something utterly wretched, and for all you know, it could have been your future soul mate/cat/film/novel/etc.
Luckily for Elizabeth Bennet, her rocky start with Darcy was not the end of the story. This man, who, upon first glance, exemplified “the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed upon to marry,” is actually rather perfect for her. And as she fell in love with Darcy, we fell in love with the now age-old story of opposing forces discovering that, against all reason, they’re head-over-heels for one another.
And thus, The Darcy Effect introduced itself into our collective consciousness as a society.
I personally see three steps that form The Darcy Effect:
- Discovery and Initial Hatred. You discover something new, and through a spur-of-the-moment, uninformed situation, you know: this is the worst person/thing you’ve ever encountered.
- Reconsideration. After a significant amount of time, you begin to reconsider your initial analysis of this person/thing. Maybe they perform some redeeming action. Perhaps someone informs you of your grossly biased opinion. Either way, the wheels of change start turning.
- Rediscovery and Undying Love. You open your heart to the person/thing and discover that you were the one at fault. The person/thing in question is no longer the worst. A new, undying love is achieved and life will never be the same again.
Now, for Elizabeth Bennet, Bridget Jones, Kathleen Kelly, and many a leading lady in rom-coms throughout history, their “Darcys” have been, well, human.
My life has been much less romantic, in that sense. A majority of the detestable human beings I’ve encountered in my life have never really redeemed themselves. That said, The Darcy Effect has still played a prominent role in my life. It just appears through other, more inanimate, means.
So, without further introduction, here are five Darcys in my life that I originally hated but now love:
To my knowledge, applesauce was the first Darcy I ever encountered at the ripe old age of 7. Upon first tasting the substance, I deemed it disgusting. The flavor was not, in fact, that of apples, but of pureed filth. Not only that, but the texture was out of this world, and not in a good way. The sauce was watery with globs of fruity pulp lurking in each bite. I swore to never consume the atrocity again.
A few years later, I was prescribed some medication and hadn’t yet mastered the art of swallowing a pill with water. My mom told me to try it with some applesauce. I was sorely offended. “Really, mom,” my brilliantly mature 10-year-old mind chided. “I’ve been complaining about this for a good 20 percent of my life.” With determination, I attempted to swallow the pill with water again. Unfortunately, I ended up holding it in my mouth for too long and the pill began to dissolve. As much as I despised applesauce, the dry paste formed from that delicate mixture of saliva and medication did me in. I’ll take the sauce, please.
On that day, I discovered that I actually love applesauce. Was it my traumatic pill-sludge experience that brought this to light? Who knows. Love is strange.
My relationship with Jane Eyre is a Darcy-esque love story if there ever was one. In the summer before my freshman year of high school, I read the book to prepare for my upcoming Honors English class. I immediately hated it. The story was boring and long-winded. Jane didn’t even arrive to Thornfield until Chapter 11, let alone meet Rochester until Chapter 12. I’m not even sure if I made it through the entire book before stopping and resorting to Cliff Notes to fill me in on the rest.
For the rest of my high school career, I carried around with me this immense hatred for anything Eyre-related. Anytime I heard the novel brought up in conversation, I would immediately speak up about its horrors. “You’re thinking of reading that for your research project? Don’t. Trust me, it’s not worth your time. You’ll wish you were the one locked in the Red Room if it meant you wouldn’t have to read another chapter.”
After years of this cycle, my family sat down one evening to watch the 2011 film adaption of the novel with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. I didn’t want to watch it, really, but it was a family event and I felt bad missing out. After all, it was only two hours long. I could handle anything for two hours, and this had the added bonus of attractive actors socializing with one another. No problem.
Far beyond my expectations, the film captivated me. From my weak-hearted attempt at reading the book years earlier, I had never realized the romance of the story or the many ways in which I relate to Jane. If this was anything like the book, I knew I needed to reread it with an open mind.
So, four years after my first attempted read, the summer before my freshman year of college, I opened Jane Eyre and fell absolutely in love. My entire outlook changed. Before, I had seen it as a stuffy, impersonal narrative. This time around, it was a captivating story of love, loss, and independence. I felt so connected to everything Jane thought and felt.
I am happy to say that I now have the upmost desire to name my future daughters (or cats) after the Bronte Sisters, and will be studying their works more closely when I study abroad in Oxford this Spring!
I was freaked out because they were a green fruit. Fruits weren’t supposed to be green. They could be red or yellow or orange, but green? No, thanks. Furthermore, they were thick and creamy, something I now admire about them, but upon first examination, I thought was a little too weird for me to bite into.
Whenever people discovered that I didn’t like avocados, they were shocked. This happened most often at summer pool parties where guacamole and chips were plentiful, and I was that kid in the corner nibbling on plain butter crackers and brownies that were supposed to be saved until dessert.
After chastising me multiple times for my lack of adventure (fear of trying new things), a friend of mine set out to prove my pickiness wrong. She lured me in with the promise of watching the first series of Sherlock, but only under the condition that I try guacamole. I weighed my options: try the disgusting green fruit mush and watch 270 minutes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman running around London solving crime, or pass on both. I chose the first option.
As I’m sure you now suspect, on that day, I discovered the subtle yet overwhelmingly powerful glory contained within that small, oval capsule of delight. I now eat avocado with anything I can get my hands on, and it’s all thanks to Kelli, my perfect guacamole wing-woman.
*Note: I am still that kid in the corner nibbling on butter crackers and brownies, I just now add chips and guacamole on top of that. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
The White Stripes
My relationship with the White Stripes began on a false note, and that note, ironically, was “We’re Going To Be Friends.” I’m not entirely sure where I first heard the song (if I’m being honest, it was probably Napoleon Dynamite. What can I say?), but I loved the sound immediately. It was so light and friendly, and I felt incredibly hip listening to it.
The interesting thing about the White Stripes was that I always wanted to like them. Usually, when there’s a Darcy in my life, I am absolutely fine with reveling in my hatred for it. Not so with the White Stripes. A number of people who I thought were incredibly cool were big fans of the band, and, if for no other reason than to fit in with them, I wanted desperately to be a fan too.
I tried giving their album White Blood Cells a listen, thinking most of it would be similar to “WGTBF.” I quickly found that “WGTBF” is softer, mellower than a lot of their music. I wasn’t prepared for the pulsing electric guitar or running drum beats that pervaded a significant amount of the album. Looking back, I overreacted a bit in my subsequent distaste for the rest of the music. Sure, it wasn’t always as mellow as “WGTBF,” but I was being pretty dramatic. Granted, I was in high school, and what is high school for if not making quick, uninformed decisions based on first impressions?
Anyways, I created a “We’re Going To Be Friends” playlist on Pandora about a year ago while I was folding laundry, and lo and behold, it reintroduced me to a lot of the White Stripes other music. Some notable mind-changers were “The Denial Twist,” “Seven Nation Army,” and “Hotel Yorba.” A lot of the sounds that had originally turned me off from them years before were what I found compelling about them upon further examination.
I’m nowhere near expert on their music yet, but hey. We’re a budding romance, still in our honeymoon stage. Let us be.
The Mindy Project
(WARNING: NEW GIRL AND TMP SPOILERS TO FOLLOW)
My final and most recent Darcy to make it on this list is The Mindy Project. I had seen a few episodes in passing because they came on after New Girl, one of the only shows I watch regularly throughout the year. From the few glimpses I saw, I thought the characters were too over-the-top, and I found the humor to be a little heavy-handed. In summary, I just thought the show was too much. When Brooklyn Nine-Nine took the slot after New Girl this spring, I was pretty excited.
Towards the end of New Girl’s season (when Nick and Jess called it quits), I was pretty irritated. Reading this interview helped me see where the showrunners were coming from, but at the time, I was unhappy with the writing and felt that the show had no direction. One night, around this time, I talked with my sister and she told me that I should try watching The Mindy Project. “Really? I can’t stand that show.” Karly was appalled. We typically have a pretty similar taste in movies/ TV shows, so it was strange that a show she absolutely adored, I would hate. I tried to explain myself, but she said I should try again, perhaps watching from the beginning.
I said I would but didn’t actually mean it. I didn’t want to dedicate myself to a show I knew I wouldn’t like. Still, once summer began, I found myself pressing the play button on the pilot episode. I’ll watch the pilot, but just to make Karly happy, I thought to myself. I already know I won’t like it. Of course, I was absolutely wrong.
I fell in love. From the few episodes I had watched before, I never knew Mindy and Danny were the Elizabeth/Darcy dynamic of the show, inevitably destined to end up together. I thought Mindy and Casey were supposed to be the end-all couple, a dynamic I was totally not into. Many of the characters that originally seemed over-the-top now appeared endearing, or at least awkwardly lovable (I’m looking at you, Morgan and Peter).
I watched the entirety of the show (only 2 seasons so far) in 4 days. I found myself looking up video montages of Mindy and Danny set to “Midnight City.” I’ve already started re-watching the show from the beginning, and now spend a significant portion of my days fangirling over Mindy Kaling.
In a nutshell, those are the main Darcy relationships in my life. I’m pretty hopeless/skeptical when it comes to real-life romantic relationships, but these shows/novels/foods/bands reassure me that love is alive without the necessity of a significant other.
That’s about all for now.