Whilst reading Twilight last night I started thinking about Robert Pattinson and his role as Edward Cullen combined with the reaction received from Twilight fans. I started to consider the parallels between the modern heartthrob Edward Cullen and the period heartthrob Mr. Darcy from Pride And Prejudice and the hype that has arisen from these characters. The reaction from both sets of fanatics have been very similar. When talking about Mr. Darcy, I do mean the Mr. Darcy from the 1995 version of Pride And Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and not the film version of 2005 starring Matthew MacFayden and Keira Knightley. To put it simply, this is a comparison of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen. I will also discuss the implications that these characters have on the actors in question.
“Still, who’d have thought it? Today Mr. Darcy is a vampire.”
Orson Scott Card
Edward and Mr. Darcy are unforgivably rude to their love interests. Edward is rude because he has a strong attraction to Bella Swan. He insatiably thirsts for her blood. The Cullens are vegetarian vampires and if he were to get any closer to Bella than he did on their first encounter, it would have been more than unsuitable. It would have meant an almighty temptation for Edward and a quick death for Bella. Everyone in the town of Forks would have sought him out as a vampire causing his family a lot of trouble (not to mention that they are two different species)! Mr. Darcy likewise has a strong attraction to Elizabeth Bennet. On their first encounter, he completely disregards the thought of her as attractive and as a potential mate, mainly because of the differences in status. Mr. Darcy is upper class and Elizabeth is middle class, he would be marrying beneath him which would have been frowned upon in society. Edward and Mr. Darcy try their hardest to keep away from their love interest but are compelled towards the forbidden fruit. Both characters break down barriers which should not be broken, they go beyond their beliefs and even their family’s customs, to risk it all for the one they love.
Both characters are portrayed to be handsome, confident, rich and intelligent. This makes them unattainable to any female that does not also embody these qualities. This will make any female reader become infatuated with the character. Bella teaches Edward how to love, she provokes compassion and protectiveness in him. He is constantly keeping a close eye on her to make sure she comes to no harm. We observe how much he has changed, he was curt, cold and aloof at the beginning and warms as the story follows through. They are both brooding, complicated characters. Mr. Darcy follows exactly the same pattern. He protects Elizabeth and her family by saving them from a potential disgrace between her little sister Lydia and Mr. Wickham. We also see him being very amiable and talkative towards the end demonstrating that behind the facade, he is warm-hearted.
Also, who can forget the underlying sexual tension! Both couples must remain abstinent. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth have to to be wed before they have any sexual intercourse because it will be a disgrace to both families. Edward and Bella cannot either, because it’s not a done thing to bring up a child as half human and half vampire! Both characters are similar in the reactions they provoke in females. It seems like girls go utterly bonkers at the mention of Edward Cullen, swooning at everything that has been written about him. Mr. Darcy has the same effect but with a more mature audience. Also, the male species cannot fathom why these characters are put so high on a pedestal and I guess they will never know the secret (this is why women moan about men, they should learn to understand this infatuation and be more like Mr. Darcy and Edward)!
I feel that at this moment in time, Twilight fans who rate Robert very highly, are completely obsessed with him because a) he’s Edward Cullen, a stigma that will always be attached to him no matter what happens and b) he has a pretty face (a fact that is unquestionable). As Twilight grows more and more popular, in years to come, Robert will want to move further and further away from that role. He will try to reinvent himself by playing roles that are the total opposite from Edward Cullen and I truly hope he does so successfully. But I really doubt that there will be much hype about him when it comes to roles outside of Twilight. Most of his fans are teens, ultimately because the Twilight Saga is written for young adults. I am not saying that they will fall out of love with Twilight, the characters or even the cast. But they will grow up and (to sound cliched) ‘get a life’. Life does happen, it does get on top of you. These teens who are totally besotted with Robert, in a few years will be attending University, working, getting into relationships, having a family. The crazed hype surrounding Twilight IS caused by the younger fans, they are the lifeforce pushing the books to become more exposed. And when they do grow up, Robert will not be hounded so much (I hope this won’t affect his chances of growing as an actor. But saying that, he does have his music to fall back on).
Colin has been stigmatised in the same way by Mr. Darcy. Grown women declare that he is a Sex God. I love Colin no matter what role he plays. But I find others who claim they love Colin, also claim that they love Mr. Darcy. They rave on about him and his ‘wet shirt’. Mr. Darcy has been such a hit with the ladies that Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’ Diary had to name Mark Darcy after him and wanted Colin to play the role of Mark in the adaptation of the novel in 2001! The films Colin were involved in after Pride And Prejudice in 1995 and before Bridget Jones’ Diary in 2001 were not exactly sensational films that made every woman weak at the knees. Even Bridget Jones herself was made to lust after him, she interviewed Colin in the second book, the interview being totally dominated by ‘the wet shirt’. It is quite the Colin Firth satire! The below is the actual inteview itself which can be seen in the deleted scenes section of the Bridget Jones’ Diary: Edge of Reason DVD.
I am not saying that both Colin and Robert are unsuccessful as actors, only being able to act as one person. It is clear that they are talented at what they do. Colin is constantly in work. Everytime I check imdb.com, he always seems to be either working on a film or one is being released. Robert’s career is definitely getting off the ground. With four Twilight Saga books, Robert has a long, healthy career ahead of him. If all of those books are turned into films, there is no doubt that he’s going to be a big star. But what I fear is Robert may be vulnerable to being typecasted, much like Colin Firth has been. His role as Edward Cullen may become so overwhelming and he may become so associated with the role, that no one, both fans and casting directors will be able to see past the character. I have seen a staggering 25 films of Colin Firth so far and most of the characters he plays are similar to the proud, stand offish romantic hero of Mr. Darcy.
“But he is a figure that won’t die. He is wandering somewhere. I can’t control him.”
Colin Firth on Mr. Darcy
The above quote from Colin on Mr. Darcy summarises the impact that the character has had on his life. And in a few years time, Robert may be saying the exact same thing about Edward Cullen. Just like the essence of Darcy will always haunt Colin Firth, the essence of Edward Cullen may haunt Robert Pattinson too. This is the problem with characters being heartthrobs, the character becomes much bigger than the actor. Many people are in love with the idea of the character but not the actor, it is a shame that people can be both fickle and shallow. Yes, both of these actors are hotties. But there is a lot more to their handsome faces, they are both talented and passionate.