In this post, I’d like to continue with a few words about romantic comedies. To many, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the ultimate literary romantic comedy, with Austen’s Emma running a close second. What often drives the story in a romantic comedy is, of course, falling in (and out of and back in) love. In a typical romantic comedy the two lovers tend to be young, likeable, and apparently meant for each other, yet they are kept apart by some complicating circumstance (e.g., class differences, parental interference; a previous girlfriend or boyfriend). By story’s end, these star-crossed lovers cross the wedding threshold or a similar metaphor and are united.
I think this famous opening sentence from Pride & Prejudice does an excellent job encapsulating what’s most likely going to happen in a romantic comedy:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
In Austen’s novel, it is also women who seek a husband, especially one with a good fortune. The below excerpt is a variation on the Cute-Meet, one of the conventions of the genre. Very early in the novel, at a dance, Elizabeth Bennet, our heroine, overhears an exchange between two men:
“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,” said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.
“Oh! She is the most beautiful creative I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say, very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”
from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
And an example from more recent times. Here’s an excerpt from Bridget’s Sunday, January 1, entry:
[talking about her mother trying to set her up] Then next time, as if out of the blue, “Do you remember Mark Darcy, darling? Malcolm and Elaine’s son? He’s one of those super-dooper top-notch lawyers. Divorced. Elaine says he works all the time and he’s terribly lonely. I think he might be coming to Una’s New Year’s Day Turkey Curry Buffet, actually.”
I don’t know why she didn’t just come out with it and say, “Darling, do shag Mark Darcy over the turkey curry, won’t you? He’s very rich.”
From Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding