The mysterious case of the missing Mr. Darcy

Can you follow the clues and save the day?

While taking an inventory of our program supplies, one of our interns realized that one of our most valuable treasures — the cardboard cutout of Mr. Darcy — has vanished! Can you follow the clues on the map to recover Mr. Darcy and solve the mystery?

How to Play

In order to play, click the icon in the top left corner of the frame below. This will open a sidebar, which will help you navigate through the clues. You might also want to click the icon in the top right corner, which will open the map in fullscreen, for a better experience. In case of difficulties accessing the embedded map below, CLICK HERE to open the game in a new tab.

Beginning at START, you‘ll receive a clue to help you find your way to the next location. As you continue through the levels (denoted by different color pins), there are more witnesses, but only one witness per level has the clue you need to move on. Don’t worry about selecting the correct pin on the map — instead, use the list of witnesses in the sidebar to move through the game. Don‘t worry if you don‘t find the correct witness on the first try — they will all lead you to the correct location eventually.

So what are you waiting for? Put on your detective cap, brush up on your Austen knowledge, and let’s find Mr. Darcy!

Another look at Lydia Bennet

A new discovery sheds new light on an old character

When it comes to irritating Austen characters, Lydia Bennet is certainly high on the list. Trampling her own reputation and flaunting her disregard for that of her sisters, Lydia is the selfish younger sister that we never wanted. Readers aren’t alone in this sentiment: a recent article from “The Guardian” suggests that Austen’s inspiration for the character arose from an undesirable sister-in-law. According to the article, Mary Pearson, the alleged archetype for Lydia, was deemed an unlikely match for Austen’s brother, Henry— a prediction that came true after only a few months of their engagement. While the exact reasons for this break are unclear, the article does associate both Pearson and Lydia with a reckless urge to be wed.

Although Lydia is definitely approaches marriage without consideration for the consequences of her dalliances, it’s a little difficult to believe that Austen only wanted a thoughtless static character to fill in her plot. For instance, the time that other characters spend deliberating over the significance of Lydia’s plight is quite substantial — suggesting that it should also weigh on our own minds. In a similar vein, Mary’s reaction to Lydia’s elopement, though disregarded by Lizzie, speaks to the complexity of Lydia’s predicament:

“Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that the loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable—that one false step involves her in endless ruin—that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful.”

-Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice”

Though it does ring of the excessive moralizations to which Mary is prone, her words tap into the problematics of femininity in the Regency era. Why should it be that there is no forgiveness for a false step, particularly when Lydia’s marriage to Wickham elicits every reaction from joy to condemnation? Furthermore, why should a young girl bear the blame for living in a social structure that predisposes her to helplessness?

Later iterations of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” also tap into the contemplative currents that surround this character. Uzma Jalaluddin’s “Ayesha at Last” emphasizes the vulnerability of girls like her Hafsa, a contemporary analog of Lydia. Jalaluddin uses Hafsa’s fall from grace (the publication of explicit photos on the Internet without her consent) to illustrate the systemic disregard for women’s reputations, as law enforcement refuses to acknowledge that a crime has been committed. Yet this is also a moment of heartening solidarity between women, as Ayesha stands by her cousin:

Ayesha at Last book cover

“Hafsa is not ruined, Ayesha said.
“Her reputation is in tatters and the vultures are circling.”
“Let them circle!” Ayesha said loudly.

-Uzma Jalaluddin, “Ayesha at Last”

Here, Jalaluddin highlights a sympathy toward Lydia that was less apparent in Austen’s own work. Moreover, she refuses to allow her protagonist to engage in the victim-shaming that so often accompanies discourse surrounding Lydia-type figures.

This trend has its roots in an earlier “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” A series of YouTube videos detailing the life of Lizzie Bennet and her sisters, the vlog’s handling of Wickham’s taking advantage of Lydia and the responses to it work to normalize practices of supporting victims of relationship abuse. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of solidarity between women in a heartwarming sequence of exchanges between the Bennet sisters.

Lydia, from “The Lizzie
Bennet Diaries”

So, just as the mystery of the “real” Lydia’s identity continues to excite and engage Austen scholars and readers alike, I find that the character is just as fascinating. Though Lydia Bennet might raise eyebrows and tempers alike, this character and her actions open the door to myriad societal critiques, and show us the importance of looking beyond appearances.

Free online discussion: Authors Sonali Dev and Soniah Kamal on food and family in Jane Austen’s work and adaptations

Attention, Jane Austen fans: Join us on June 4 at 7 p.m. for an online event: “Food, Family, and Identity with Sonali Dev and Soniah Kamal,” hosted by Jane Austen and Company, JASP’s free public humanities series. This event is free and will take place over Zoom.

Jane Austen Summer Program co-founder Inger Brodey will interview Sonali Dev (author of “Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors” and the forthcoming “Recipe for Persuasion,” which hits shelves May 26) and Soniah Kamal (author of “Unmarriageable“) about their novels, Jane Austen, and the role of food and family in Austen’s work and adaptations. A Q&A will follow.

Dev and Kamal were guests at our 2019 program, “Pride and Prejudice and Its Afterlives.” Read more about them here and here.

To register and receive the Zoom link for this event, please fill out the form here. Please note: Spots are limited and are first-come-first serve.

For more information, check out Jane Austen & Company’s blog here. Have a question for Sonali Dev or Soniah Kamal? Leave it in the comments below!