Rest in Peace, Mr Darcy

What happens when the last symbol of romanticism, the perfect man who every woman imagines at her side, is killed?

Fair enough, the 21st century version of the gorgeous Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mark, is certainly not as real as we’d like him to be, but the loss is still heartfelt by the many readers who have fallen in love with him as they did in their school days with his past incarnation.

Last week, the Sunday Times published an extract of Helen Fielding’s latest book, Mad About the Boy (coming out October 10) a sequel to her famous Bridget Jones series where the male hero of the story, Mark Darcy (portrayed by Colin Firth in both film renditions of the books) has died, leaving his wife Bridget a widow with two children to look after and lover Roxster to entertain her.

After witnessing an awkward but still romantic beginning between the two in Bridget Jones’s Diary, and living alongside the characters the ups and downs of adult relationships, the readers were left disappointed and saddened by the unexpected departure of one of the most beloved characters of modern literature.

Truth to be told I always thought the story slightly cliched due to the similarities between the original Darcy and his present counterpart, but isn’t it the point?

Women don’t expect fiction to be real because there’s no fun in that: if we always expected what’s real there would be no emotion, no surprise. Fictional love stories are made to be perfect, where the girl gets the boy (or the other way round. Or she gets the girl: who am I to judge?) and they live happily ever after.

Readers of love stories don’t want death in it because that’s already in their lives therefore there’s no reason for them to be reminded of its certainty. If you need a good cry just watch films like A Walk to Remember, Titanic or even a mid-season finale of Doctor Who (2006), you don’t go looking for it in a book about love.

And yes, love can be sad in books but a writer can’t expect readers to accept easily the death of one of the main character after two books where everything is just fine, apart from a few obstacles here and there.

Mad About a Boy will probably earn very good reviews in the end,  Helen Fielding has, after all, repeatedly demonstrated her capacities as an author (and I firmly believe she had a fit seeing the work of the screenwriters of The Edge of Reason), but she will also have to fend off the millions of fans who where hit most deeply by her decision of killing off Mark Darcy.

Mark is in fact the whole point of the discussion.

A well-off lawyer who has fallen in love with an overweight smoker/drinker struggling with self-doubt that constantly fears for his love to dissipate. But he remains loyal and constant in his feelings, accepting her insecurities and her overbearing mother.

Women all around the world have believed that such a man not only was perfect, but to them he had become the model men had to look up to to conquer a partner.

Yet their man has just vanished into thin air-or, to be more precise, six feet under-and their dream of a well-deserved happy ending will have shattered in their fantasy.

Good riddance, Mark Darcy, and for what is worth, thank you for making women believe the perfect man existed.

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