Back in February of this year (2017) the New York Times ran an article in response to a study on the real!Mr. Darcy, commissioned by Britain’s UKTV. The original study was carried out by John Sutherland (Prof. Emeritus of Modern English Language at the University College London) and Amanda Vickery (Prof. of Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London), along with beautiful illustrations of the real!Mr. Darcy by artist Nick Hardcastle. The purpose of this study was to give Darcy fans of both the book and the many film adaptations a chance to compare the modern vision of Mr. Darcy they are accustomed to seeing - based on modern ideals of masculinity - and the Mr. Darcy who would have been closer to Austen’s original vision, based on the masculine ideal of the 18th century.
However, while Sutherland and Vickery’s original study was a respectful, academic work calling attention to this difference in a fairly neutral fashion, not all of the response articles which followed were as moderate in tone.
On the surface Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura’s piece for the New York Times, “Mr. Darcy You’re No Colin Firth,” seems to blend in with the range of pieces from The Guardian, The Smithsonian, et. al. But while the foremost part of her article follows the mold of the others, recapping the Sutherland/Vickery study with a small amount of additional commentary, it is Freytas-Tamura’s snide tone and her use of select sarcastic phrases that have raised objection from certain corners. The distinct impression she leaves the reader with is one of communal disdain, inviting them to share in her view of Mr. Darcy’s many fans. Look at these silly, obsessed women - she seems to say—losing their minds over this blow to their “adoration of English literature’s most eligible bachelor”, but you and me *wink wink nudge* we know how foolish and shallow they are.