John Thorpe is the selfish and boastful older brother of Isabella Thorpe who, in part…
old Mr. Darcy, Basic Character Information
Old Mr. Darcy, who was probably never referred to as such when he was alive, is Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father and godfather of George Wickham.
Given Name: Unknown, but quite possibly George as he was George Wickham’s godfather and it wasn’t uncommon for children to be named after their godparents. The fact that his daughter was called Georgiana also supports this theory.
Age: Deceased, as of approximately 5 years before the events in the novel. If he were still alive he would be at least old enough to have a son in his late 20s.
Spouse: Lady Anne Fitzwilliam
Children: Fitzwilliam and Georgiana
Personality Characteristics: George Wickham describes old Mr. Darcy as “one of the best men that ever breathed, and the truest friend I ever had.” In his famous letter to Elizabeth, Darcy uses the adjectives “excellent” and “revered” to describe his father and later says his father was “all that was benevolant and amiable.” At Christmas, Mrs. Gardiner is revealed to have known old Mr. Darcy by character and praises him to Wickham; later at Pemberley, when Mrs. Gardiner observes that Mr. Darcy was an excellent man, Mrs. Reynolds agrees giving her opinion that Fitzwilliam Darcy will be “just as affable to the poor.”
In spite of all this praise, we also know that there was some mismanagement in the parenting provided to Wickham and Darcy. Darcy himself admits that while his parents taught him correct principles, they left him to follow them in “pride and self-conceit” while spoiling him and allowing, encouraging and almost teaching him to be “selfish and overbearing” and “to think meanly of the rest of the world.”
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I think that what bad things Darcy said about his parents referred mostly to his mother rather than father. The way he mentions that his father was “particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable” practically leaves his mother as the one not benevolent or amiable, making her more responsible for his own pride and self-conceit.
Dad Darcy sinned in his preferring Wickham over Darcy, and Austen always scorns favouritism of any kind, but he doesn’t seem to be the one to directly lead Darcy towards pride.
It’s also interesting that almost no one ever speaks of Lady Anne. Mrs. Reynolds didn’t say anything at all, what probably would happen if that lady were a good mistress. I.e. when she says that no one would be good for Darcy it was a perfect moment to mention the late Lady Anne as a great mistress of the house. Only Lady Catherine speaks of her with sentiment. Wickham simply pairs both Ladies as sisters, but doesn’t say anything about Lady Anne’s character. What Darcy says is actually nearly the worst thing he ever said about anyone (only Wickham’s mother is described by him as extravagant), but not even Lady Catherine is so scorned by him. Actually it seems he has a great respect for his aunt, until she abuses Lizzy.
IMO from the little bits we have the most likely picture is a proud, intelligent mother, similar to Lady Catherine, and a kind, amiable father, perhaps similar to Bingley, who prefers Wickham over his own son and heir. Darcy says that it’s what he had been since 8 years old. Around this time mothers took on the education of their children. So the early good principles would be the work of a nurse or governess.
I think that this ill-pairing of his parents was the main reason of his own image of himself. He loved his father and wanted to be loved in return, while he kept losing to Wickham. At the same time his mother kept telling him that it doesn’t matter because it’s he who’s going to be the master and landlord. So Darcy began to see his worth in his position rather than his own character, since no one ever cared for that. When he says that he was taught to think ill of everyone beyond him that includes Wickham.
On the other hand the mere fact that he left his father’s room unchanged, keeping there even Wickham’s miniature, shows Darcy’s strong feelings and respect for his father. While there’s no sign of his mother in the entire house. Also, Darcy seems to want to be like his father. He thinks that what ill his father did it’s because he was deceived, just like he thinks Bingley might be deceived by Jane. I think that Darcy’s image of his father is idealised, just as Lizzy’s of hers. So at the end Darcy doesn’t exclude his father from the charges because he learnt to admit the man’s flaws. His father is still benevolent and amiable, but not as excellent as he was in the letter. After all both Wickham and Darcy were boys throughout most of it. How much sense does it make to blame a boy for an adult man’s attachment towards him? I think there were some things Darcy simply didn’t want to see.
No man is like his mother, that is their tragedy.