I’m searching for my Prince Charming; for that knight in shining armour who is going to make me happy for the rest of my life. Even though I know that he doesn’t exist, I wish I finally met him. I know that I’m still young. I know that it’s unlikely I will ever meet someone who comes even close to being a knight in shining armour, a defender of my future, and a sentinel at the gates of my happiness. Even if he existed, it’s entirely likely that I may have to wait for years until I meet him. I don’t have my life in order. I don’t meet new people, let alone men, and I don’t know where I could possibly come across a knight or a prince or even a frog to kiss.
But sometimes it’s just so hard. In a world that projects its ideals of romance and courtship onto the silver screen, reality cannot hope to compare. In books and movies and TV shows, the knight in shining armour is a well-established character, a type, a recurring and ever-present phenomenon. It’s impossible to escape him, and it’s equally as impossible not to begin to wish and hope and dream for someone like that in real life.
It also doesn’t help that I have a deep-seated love for Jane Austen. Particularly her novel Pride and Prejudice and its many movie versions have taken me captive. It doesn’t matter if it’s Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen or Daniel Vincent Gordh who is playing the romantic lead. I fell in love with the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy when I first read the book years ago, long before I watched it in flickering pictures for the first time. My love for the characters and the story and the incomparable knight – who isn’t quite a knight and still is a knight – has only gotten stronger over time.
Of course, the actors playing Darcy are always handsome in a Hollywood-handsome, unlike-reality, too-good-looking-for-the-book kind of way, all tall and dark and mysteriously forceful. But they always play him well. They nail the ill-tempered stranger from the beginning of the novel well, the one whose pride is only surpassed by his prejudice. They manage to convey the shyness when he first falls in love and the intelligence that makes him different from all other men in the novel.
And it’s this portrayal of Darcy that has doomed my understanding of romance and love. This is exactly how I wish men really were like, how they really behaved, and how they would make me feel. Darcy isn’t without faults. He’s petty and arrogant and prejudiced. He looks down on people and meddles with the lives of his friends. He’s flawed and that’s all the more endearing. Because he overcomes his flaws for the one he loves. He’s brave and bold when he tells her about his feelings. He takes his heart in his hands and offers it to her openly and without restraint. He’s direct and uncompromising, and in the end, he helps and plays knight in shining armour without ever expecting her to know or to see what he did.
I want someone like him. I want someone whose intelligence and moral straightforwardness are uncompromising. I want someone who holds people at a distance with his arrogance and his pride, but who can take his heart into his hands when he needs to take a leap of faith. I want that kind of bravery, that kind of knightly attitude, that kind of love.
And I know it’s a fictional love. And I know that it doesn’t exist in reality. And I know I won’t find it with my head buried in books and movies and TV shows. I understand that knights in shining armour don’t exist, and I know that story-book heroes exist only in fiction. I know all that, but I still dream. And I still want. And I still hope.