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The thing about Darcy.

One thing I've been so grateful for about the sembreak is having so much time in my hands doing the one thing I love most: reading. It saddens me how I've lost the tenacity to read whatever novel kicks my fancy come school time because as cliche as this may sound, I just really don't have the time. It's painful to see half-read novels on my bedside table when I'm holding inch-thick readings for my subjects. And so as the semester broke (harhar) I promised myself I would do some catching up.

Trust me, the lazy mornings (and afternoons and evenings and late nights) spent on leisure readings are precious.

Guess who's the boy that's been keeping me up all night? It's Fitzwilliam freakin' Darcy.

A friend gave me the deluxe limited edition print of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with a beautiful cover done by Ruben Toledo. A random fact about me: I do judge books by their cover. The moment I saw this one on the racks, I knew I just had to have it. Thank goodness for friends who see right through me.

I've read the book before, and to say that I loved it would be an understatement. It was the novel that started my love affair with Jane Austen. It had the perfect mix of gutsiness and candor -- something rare in even modern-day novels. I guess it was the first "classic" novel I read, the one that opened the doors for all the other timeless novels out there. I loved its sarcasm and wit, I liked the unpredictability and charm. It was a special book, it meant a lot of things at a certain time in my life. Reading it again would be a delight.

But of course, what Pride & Prejudice journey would be complete without everyone's favorite (anti) hero Mr. Darcy? He was the biggest enigma in the novel -- was he the knight in shining armor, or the evil villain? His arrogance was annoying, his sharpness was maddening. And yet, millions of girls over the centuries continue to fall madly in love with him. Elizabeth Bennett, and myself included.

I can't help but wonder, if Mr. Darcy was placed in the 21st century, would he be as charmingly maddening as he is?

Reading the novel for the second time felt like seeing the story with a new set of eyes. The plot is the same, but somehow the entire novel hit me in completely different places. It's true what they say that a book never stays the same. It will always change, because the reader changes. The experience of reading a novel depends largely on the person reading it -- how much she knows, where she's been, who she's with.

I can imagine Mr. Darcy being this filthy rich private-school bred boy with a nice, shiny silver Camry. We would be classmates in Gender & Sexuality class, and when asked about chivalry, I would say that a number of good ol' gentlemen still exist in society. Our professor would ask if I appreciate chivalrous deeds and of course I would agree, saying that it is comforting to know that respect for women is still deemed noble. Mr. Darcy would butt in and say chivalrous acts like these defeat feminism. The professor would prod for details, and he would go on and say that if women and men are equal then men do not need to give special treatment to the ladies, like giving up their seats in buses or MRTs. I would rebut him by stating that feminism is goes beyond what he is trying to say but then professor signals that our class is over and that we would resume next meeting. Mr. Darcy would look at me quite arrogantly, quite satisfied that he has stumped me and would leave the room. I'd fix my things and hurriedly storm out for my next class, only to find him still outside giving me a coy smile before walking away.

Okay, maybe I am over-thinking this. But my point is, reading the novel again made me wonder how much has changed since the last time I read it. Before, Fitzwilliam Darcy just annoyed me, period. Well, he is such a perplexity, and I guess he always will be, but now he became more three-dimensional. Perhaps it's because I've met people who are just as puzzling as he is. There are people who will get on your nerves but unconsciously win you over. And Elizabeth is no longer just a protagonist to me -- she is a character I can be, because I now understand her frustration over this boy that keeps ticking her off.

But perhaps it is precisely this vexation that keeps this novel transcend the test of time. It's a universal feeling, driving yourself weary over something. The biases and first impressions will always have a huge impact on the way we deal with people. This is human nature. I guess it's safe to say that this novel will keep hitting us in the right places -- just more painful and truthful as time goes by.

Now that I think about it, modern-day Darcy might peeve me just as much as he did Elizabeth in the 19th century. I'm going to want to break him down so badly and trip over everything he say (Yeyy, Rockband allusion) but I have a feeling he will just as easily win me over, too. Just because.


Enrollment starts tomorrow. Oh God.