Fight club? Isn’t that a reference to a brutal, physical, bloody pugilistic mess of masculinity and violence?
There is something about watching a well-choreographed fight scene that draws many people, not only men, in order to find out how equal opponents will fare in the most brutal of sports.
The fight becomes more suspenseful when the opponents are unequal. We expect one to win, and then, surprise, the underdog comes through.
Jane included a fight-club like scene right smack-dab in the middle of P&P. You guessed it. The chapter where Darcy comes and proposes to Elizabeth. She’s the underdog.
I’m in the middle of writing my version of this chapter, and my admiration for Jane has gone up yet another notch. She’s already pretty high up as it is, but this chapter is brilliant. Here’s a breakdown of the fight, in five parts.
- Darcy comes in swinging. He states his position, catching her with an unexpected left hook, and he’s confident of victory. Liz bounces off the ropes, a bit dazed, but still in the fight. Her “No thank you” is a light punch to the gut. He’s not fazed.
- Darcy comes back with his demands, and Liz lets him have it with some of the best quick punches in history: you say you love me while insulting me! He’s certainly a bit unsteady with this one. NO ONE tells Darcy he’s not logical!
- He doesn’t fight back, but hits the ropes while Liz delivers some more blows, telling him that he separated Jane and Bingley. He doesn’t argue, he’s proud of it! That’s quite a defense there, holding up his hands to his face the entire time.
- Liz isn’t done. Now she brings up the whole Wickham thing. These are known as “feints” in boxing, because the blows don’t really land. All they do is distract your opponent, and mix him up it does, as Darcy goes ballistic thinking about Wickham and the past. But Liz has set him up for a series of punches known as the TKO.
- While Darcy is still hot, claiming he was too honest with her, and could have won if he’d been all nice and romantic, hiding his true feelings. This is called dancing and weaving in the boxing ring. Liz isn’t having any of it. She’s focused on the kill:
- First Punch, a hard right. If you had behaved in a more gentleman-like manner. Wow. This one draws blood, but he’s still standing. We find out much later this has been hurting him for the entire rest of the story.
- Second Punch, a good left throwing him off balance. Liz lets him know she wouldn’t have accepted him no matter what he said. Ha! At this point he thinks he’s still in the fight, but this is how you tell the great fighter (Lizzy) from the wannabe (Darcy).
- Third Punch, the technical knockout. I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on Earth. This is the first time ANYONE ever said those words. And it’s letting him know that he’s dead last in her eyes, Mister “Everyone Adores Me” totally getting cut down at the knees. Fight’s over.
The whole thing is absolutely brilliant. Darcy has barely enough energy to stand at the end and see her crowned the winner. He says “You have said quite enough”, which in boxing language is “Uncle!” He leaves, nursing serious wounds.
So the next time anyone says a romantic comedy doesn’t have enough action, point them to this story, this chapter, and let them read away. It’s one of the bloodiest fight scenes in literature. And the best part is that the suspense doesn’t end there, it only gets better.
Thank you Jane.