My dearest Darcy,
I fear I find myself the victim of a handsome face and an iron sense of integrity. I fear that my once constant heart, a heart so dedicated to one man, to you, has found itself longing for another. I fear, my darling Fitzwilliam Darcy, that I no longer “ardently admire and love you.” I like you, rather a lot, but I can’t say Love — at least not since I met the heir to your character. Forgive me, Mr. Darcy, but Mr. John Thornton of Milton has wooed my heart and I don’t believe there is any going back.
Darcy, when we first met you were rude and prideful — you put down my dear friend Elizabeth Bennet and dismissed her family as silly, wealth-obsessed, and generally beneath your social and personal standards. Your prejudices against those less fortunate than you were made painfully evident. Indeed, I misjudged you. Charmed by his affections towards Lizzy, I took Wickham’s side when it was really you who were wronged. By the end of our acquaintance, Miss Bennet had come to realize your inner kindness, yet, let us be honest, your Pride and your Prejudices still remained. Let us consider the famous moment of your proposal…you claimed to admire and love Lizzy, but still put down her family and still acted as the agent of her sister’s misery. Furthermore, you retained your sense of class superiority. You were born with your wealth and status, Mr. Darcy; you were not its maker.
I do not wish to dismiss all your heroic acts, all your subtle and genuine declarations of affections for Lizzy, but i have to wonder if you are really the hero for a modern woman?
John Thornton may be many years your junior, his story coming into being in the mid 1850s, and he is not a gentleman by your standards — he did not inherit wealth, he made it in trade. He ran a mill in Milton, a rapidly industrializing town, and he ruled it with an iron fist. When I met him, he was beating up a worker who’s carelessness with a smoking pipe might have set the mill ablaze. His response seemed cruel and beast-like. But I can understand his anger — one flame and hundreds of workers would have lost their lives. Miss Margaret Hale didn’t like Mr. Thornton at first, neither for his temper nor his modern, business-like ways. Yet, throughout our knowing one another, he was consistent in his admiration of her character and her ethics. When he proposed, he said simply that he loved her — no put downs, no dismissals. Only heartbreak at her initial refusal. He too was an ethical man, ensuring always that his workers were protected and properly cared for. And regardless of the hurt he felt at Miss Hale’s rejection of him, he was always willing to put himself on the line to save her. He refused to engage in a risky speculation because he refused to play with his workers’ livelihoods. He has a temper and is prideful, but he is not selfish.
Mr. Darcy, forgive me. For you shall always be my first love, but Mr. Thornton has stolen my heart. He is a bit darker than you, a bit gruffer than you, for sure. He has no Pemberly, just a mill and a large house in a gloomy Northern town. But he is the man of the future, off his high horse and Byronically handsome in a Richard Armitage sort of way.
Forever partly yours,