Mr Darcy goes viral!

Mr Darcy goes viral! Characters in Pride And Prejudice are among most-memed on the internet, researchers say

  • Characters in Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice are becoming meme idols
  • Mr Darcy has inspired a ‘cult’ of memes among young people on social media 

He’s long been a romantic hero. Now Jane Austen’s brooding Mr Darcy has become a ‘meme idol’.

Internet memes are usually humorous captioned photos that are widely shared online.

Cambridge University researchers have discovered that characters in Austen’s 1813 novel Pride And Prejudice are some of the most-memed on the internet – second only to Shakespeare.

The authors of the study, published in the journal Humanities, said memes are becoming one of the main ways in which younger audiences discover Austen.

The study found that Elizabeth Bennett’s romance with the tall, dark and handsome Mr Darcy has inspired a ‘cult’ of memes among young people on sites such as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Actor Colin Firth pictured in character as Mr Darcy

Georgios Chatziavgerinos, a PhD student at Cambridge University and one of the study’s researchers, said: ‘Lots of authors are memed, but Austen memes have become a cult of their own.

‘A whole generation of young adults have grown up in a digital world where they use this sort of content to bond over shared values.

‘Among classic authors, Austen is probably second only to Shakespeare in terms of how much this happens.’

I Love Mr Darcy canvas tote bag from the Jane Austen gift shop

Famously brought to life by Colin Firth in the 1995 BBC series of Pride and Prejudice and by Matthew MacFadyen in the 2005 film, Mr Darcy’s on-screen portrayals have become the subject of hundreds of memes, according to the study.

One meme observed by authors uses a still from Firth’s famous lake scene alongside a caption that plays on the novel’s first line: ‘A truth universally acknowledged: you either love Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, or you’re wrong.’

Another adapts a well-known meme of comic book character Wolverine gazing at a photo frame, with a close-up of the frame showing that Wolverine is admiring MacFadyen’s beloved ‘hand flex’ scene.

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