"But I can assure you," she added, "that Lizzy does not lose much by not suiting his fancy; for he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set-downs. I quite detest the man."
(Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet about Mr. Darcy)
We've seen him over and over and over again in various forms. We've despised him, we've loved him, we've swooned over him. He's made us wetter than New Orleans after Katrina. He's arrogant and pompous and walks with an air of superiority, and yet, we fall for him as surely as Lizzy Bennet did.
Oh, Mr. Darcy, what is it about you that we find so irresistible?
Let's face it, guys. Mr. Darcy is kinda a jackass. Sure, his behavior gets excused and explained away later on, and we feel for him and understand him and we go from disliking him so immensely to loving him thoroughly. He's tortured, bless his heart! He had his reasons for acting the way he did! But, come on. I think we all can agree, reasons or not, Darcy was a jerk.
And maybe that's why we do like him so much. We like our boys bad.
Because here's the thing about a bad boy: we, as their love interest, whether personally or vicariously, get to change them. We get to be the reason behind their growth as a person. We, alone, get the knowledge that we are so effing incredibly special and magical, that we broke through their walls and melted their hardened hearts. We flipped that house, yo! Just by being us!
That's some powerful shit.
And we fall for it so hard in literature because, let's be honest, it rarely works out like that in real life. In the real world, Mr. Darcy doesn't change, he changes us. He turns us into the type of women that take the bullshit, thinking that some day, some day soon, we'll break through to them and they'll realize what a damned prize we are. They'll change their ways because we deserve it. We're worth changing for. We cry ourselves to sleep and have our hearts broken daily waiting for that moment Lizzy Bennet experienced, when Mr. Darcy became the gentleman she said he wasn't. But it doesn't come. Eventually we wise up and move on. Maybe we find a boy who's already a good guy. Or maybe we move on to another bad boy and lather, rinse and repeat until we finally throw our hands up and pair off with the boy next door, while still swooning over our fictional Darcy.
That's the beauty of him. The literary version of him, that is. We're safe in our love because we know he won't hurt us. He will change. He will become someone better, someone worthy of us. He'll become our prince charming because books don't let us down in that way. They'll almost always follow the formula and we are free to trust in it, knowing we won't be betrayed like we will in real life. We'll always get our Lizzy moment, no matter if it's in Pride & Prejudice or Pushing the Limits. Mr. Darcy will not let us down and we'll be able to bask in the knowledge that we alone, through Lizzy or Echo, melted and bewildered him, despite our social differences. We were the catalyst for their change because we are such unique snowflakes and they couldn't resist our feminine charms.
And despite the formula being tried and tested and implemented many, many, many times over, we'll continue to fall for it. We'll continue loving the hell out of that jackass-turned-charming-hero. Because, deep down, I think we're all suckers for a sharp dressed asshole.