Darcy Vs. Thornton – it’s the ultimate showdown between Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

Darcy Vs. Thornton

Although there are different versions of each character, this showdown is specific to Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy from the 1995 BBC mini series of Pride and Prejudice and Richard Armitage’s Mr Thornton from the 2004 BBC mini series of North & South. 

For a bit of context, when P&P was published in 1813, Darcy was aged 28 and Elizabeth was 20 and when N&S was published in 1855, Thornton was 30 and Margaret was 19. Men chasing younger women – tale as old as time, am I right?

Although we love both gentlemen, for the purpose of this showdown, Melpo is in the Darcy corner and Emma is in the Thornton corner. Let the top hat battle begin!

Darcy Vs. Thornton Showdown

Best Facial Expression

DARCY

Darcy is known for being aloof. He spends most of his time throwing shade, rolling his eyes and staring from across a room. I mean, you don’t actually see his teeth until the final scene. So when he hears Elizabeth singing for the first time and his whole face lights up, it’s such a sight to be seen!

Mr Darcy smile Colin Firth Darcy Vs. Thornton
Twinkling like a Christmas tree. Source: GIPHY

THORNTON

Can I say every facial expression? I’m not kidding…he always looks good, even when he’s really angry. He’s got some great expressions that it’s so hard to pick just one favourite. There’s the piercing stare, the look of love and the half-amused look. I absolutely love broody Thornton, but then again, the look on his face anytime Margaret is around is everything. I’m torn. I mean look at this…

The look of love Source: Tumblr
The look of love. Source: Tumblr

 

Outfit with the Most Swag

DARCY

Sure, he can wear the hell out of a bicorne hat and naturally, he’s got good taste in robes. But nothing can compare with the legendary damp white shirt post-casual dip in the lake.

Mr Darcy wet shirt Colin Firth Darcy Vs. Thornton
Wet t-shirt – no contest! Source: GIPHY

THORNTON

It’s got to be a tie between that time he pops the cravat and when he rolls up those sleeves. Those white billowing sleeves – there’s something about them. You would think it would be his suit at the fancy dinner party. But I prefer him a bit more casual.

Pop that cravat. Source: http://northandsouth2004.com/
Pop that cravat. Source: Northandsouth2004

 

Source: Northandsouth2004
Roll up those sleeves. Source: Northandsouth2004

Bad Boy Moment

DARCY

Nobody’s perfect. Not even Mr Darcy. The reason he’s so lovable is because he acknowledges his faults and owns his mistakes. One of his biggest boo boos is when he convinces Bingley that Jane’s just not that into him (to be fair, he thinks he’s looking out for a bro) and then hides the fact that she’s in London for three months. Naughty, Darcy!

Darcy Vs. Thornton
Bros before hoes. #sorrynotsorry Source: Cap-That

THORNTON

The first time we ever meet Mr Thornton he chases and repeatedly punches one of the workers at his Mill…it’s an interesting introduction but we come to understand his bad boy ways as we get to know him. I cannot imagine Mr Darcy doing anything so physical. I love that Mr Thornton is so passionate, it makes him a lot more real.

Source:
Don’t mess with Thornton. Source: Northandsouth2004

Best Physical Asset

DARCY

His chin dimple is pretty irresistible but his best asset is the barber’s dream combo of thick curly locks and impressive side burns. Let’s not forget that he’s 28. Not even balding or greying even a little! Regency hair goals.

Darcy Vs. Thornton
19th Century hair and ‘burns on fleek. Source: Cap-That

 

THORNTON

Have you seen those cheekbones? Those eyes? That stubble? The accent helps too. Everything just sounds so good in a Northern English accent.

Source: Book Shelf Fantasies
Those cheekbones. Source: Book Shelf Fantasies

Manliest Moment

DARCY

Let’s be honest here – Darcy doesn’t get his hands dirty. He doesn’t have to! He earns £10,000 a year for crying out loud. He pays people to tie his cravats and pour water on his head. Nothing wrong with keeping people employed! He does, however, engage in active pursuits like shooting, riding and fencing and nobody can say those aren’t manly.

Darcy Vs. Thornton Shooting Pride and Prejudice
Shooting in a top hat – top that! Source: Cap-That

 

Darcy Vs. Thornton
Guy in back has serious sword envy. Source: Cap-That

 

THORNTON

It’s not really a moment but I think the fact that he actually works for a living (and has worked his way up from nothing) is manly. Compared to Mr Darcy anyway who spends his time attending balls and riding horses while visiting wealthy aunts in the countryside. And you can’t try and sell North and South without talking about the riot scene. When Margaret is injured right in front of him he turns and yells at an angry horde of hungry workers, “You came here for me, so kill me if that’s what you want!”

Facing the angry horde of workers. Source:
Facing the angry horde of workers. Source: Northandsouth2004

When He Brought the LOLs

DARCY

Darcy doesn’t have time to humour stupid people. If he’s over a boring convo, he’ll just wander off and stare out the window. He’s also brutally honest – remember the “confined and unvarying” comment about country society in front of his future mother-in-law? Oopsy. But his most humorous moment is when he bumps into Elizabeth after her muddy trek through the countryside. She says she’s come to inquire after her sick sister and he replies with an amused smirk, “On foot?”

Darcy Vs. Thornton
After you, bae. Source: Pinterest

THORNTON

Thornton’s relationship with his sister is a great source of amusement. You couldn’t get two more different people. Thornton has worked his whole life to make sure his family wants for nothing and Fanny seems to just spend money. The look on his face sometimes when she says something particularly annoying is priceless and I love the way he snaps at her, “What do you know about money except how to spend it.”

Fanny is 'trilling'. Source: Tumblr
Fanny is ‘trilling’ again. Source: Tumblr

Moment You Fell for Him

DARCY

It’s not until he spends a grueling night hunched over his writing desk, spilling his guts to his beloved that you truly understand what a gentleman he is. I mean, anybody who has to endure the foul sight of Wickham grabbing a woman like she’s a Tickle Me Elmo is a hero in my eyes. Plus you see how much he cares for his sister Georgiana when he saves her from the aforementioned pervert.

Darcy Vs. Thornton
Love you, fam. Source: Cap-That

THORNTON

So many moments to choose from. Let’s be honest, it was probably the first moment we lay eyes on him (pre-bad boy moment). There’s also a sweet scene in the first episode when we see the real Thornton for the first time. Margaret makes tea for him and as she’s passing him the cup their fingers touch. Such a small moment but it’s so electric!

Source: Northandsouth2004
Sparks are flying! Source: Northandsouth2004

Most Heroic Moment

DARCY

Darcy plays the role of janitor a few times, mopping up female tears left behind by Wickham the wanker. The first is after Georgiana almost elopes with him and Darcy swoops in with a successful cock block. The second is after Wickham whisks Lydia away from Brighton to live in sin in an unknown London locale and Detective Darcy uncovers them and forces him down the aisle. Fitzwilliam Darcy, saving women from George Wickham’s bullshit since 1813.

Darcy Vs. Thornton
Super Darce to the rescue! Source: Cap-That

THORNTON

Making a murder case go away just so that Margaret doesn’t have to reveal that the man she was seen embracing was involved. It’s a bit like that moment in Friends. He knows she was there, she knows that he knows she was there, and he knows that she knows he knows she was there. And even though Mr Thornton thinks that she was in the arms of another man, he still does the right thing and protects her. He doesn’t just throw money at a problem his lady love is facing, he puts his own reputation on the line.

Source: Tumblr
Has he lost her forever? Source: Tumblr

Most Romantic Words

DARCY

“I’ve been a selfish being all my life. As a child I was given good principles, but was left to follow them in pride and conceit and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest, Elizabeth.” Mic drop.

Darcy Vs. Thornton Dearest loveliest Elizabeth
Dearest, loveliest, Elizabeth! Source: Cap-That

THORNTON

This one is easy. I don’t want to sound like a crazy person but I can pretty much quote the proposal scene word for word. There’s one line in particular though that gets me every time. Margaret is surprised by his proposal and thinks that because she is in ‘reduced circumstances’ he wants to have her as his possession. But that’s not true as Thornton so eloquently states (as he chases her around the table), “I don’t want to possess you, I wish to marry you because I love you.”

Source:
He doesn’t want to posses her. Source: Northandsouth2004

Concluding Remarks

DARCY

To quote Andie from Step Up 2: The Streets, it’s “not about what you got, it’s what you make of what you‘ve got!” Mr Darcy is a rich and handsome man but that’s not what makes him dreamy. It’s that he uses his wealth for good and protects and defends the people that he loves. He’s a bit of a cheeky devil when we first meet him but Elizabeth helps him see the error of his ways and what we’re left with at the end of Episode 6 is a roguish angel with a halo of well-maintained curls. Despite all the naysayers and the haters (I’m lookin’ at you, de Bourgh), he follows his heart and chooses L.O.V.E (insert heart-shaped hand gesture here)!

If you’re a true Darcy devotee, check out our post How Many Pride and Prejudice Adaptations Have You Seen?

Darcy Vs. Thornton
Ultimate hero. Source: Cap-That

THORNTON

Look, don’t get me wrong, I do love Mr Darcy. He’s a dashing hero who softens and changes for Lizzie. I just think that Mr Thornton is the ultimate dashing hero. There’s a great discussion in the book about ‘gentlemen’. Margaret’s opinion of what a gentleman should be when she first arrives in Milton is typical of what Mr Darcy is. Sophisticated, rich and pompous. Mr Thornton is not a gentleman in her eyes. He’s a tradesman, he works hard, he shows emotion and he doesn’t just say what people want to hear. He’s not a gentleman by occupation, he is the true gentleman at heart. I rest my case.

n&s8tumblr
A True Gentleman. Source: Tumblr

 

32 thoughts on “Darcy Vs. Thornton Showdown

  1. First, let me say that Darcy have always owned my heart. But Thornton is a man that gives girls like me a fighting chance. Also, and I might get stoned for what I’m about to say, I am not a fan of this Darcy casting. Sorry!!! Even before the 2004 Pride & Prejudice, Colin just didn’t do it for me as a Darcy. I much preferred Matthew McFayden (don’t hate me!).

    Love this post!

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    1. haha, I actually don’t mind Matthew McFayden as Darcy! I think there was good chemistry there! It’s a tough choice. I love Darcy but Thornton just has that little something extra I think!

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  2. Where all the Colin Firth fans at? I love Richard Armitage as Thornton but Colin Firth as Darcy is PERFECTION. Darcy 4 eva. Also – I LOLed so many times reading this. Hilar. Great Post!

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  3. Has to be Thornton for me! I love how Gaskell lets us in Thornton’s head in the book to see all those tortured thoughts. Sigh. And Richard Armitage portrays all that repressed anguish so intensely — without even saying a word. Just looking at him makes you melt.

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  4. I really enjoyed your analysis. And you gave equal props to each character–letting us decide whom we loved most. Brava! And for me, my heart will always belong to John Thornton as portrayed by Richard Armitage. Sighhh!

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  5. I think it’s hard to say that I prefer tone over the other. I like them both. They are both really good characters.

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  6. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Richard Armitage (Thornton),especially in Robin Hood his Guy of Gisborne days (the poor tortured soul), but Colin Firth (Darcy) wins every time when it comes to my ideal Gentleman. Sigh.

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  7. For years I have swooned over Darcy. The 1995 version of P & P was the i-ching as far as I was concerned. And THEN I recently discovered N & S with Richard Armitage. Double swoon. I wish I could vote for him twice. They are both tall — I like ’em tall — and intense, but John Thornton is a self-made man. He wants no pomp and circumstance. He just wants to work hard and when he decides he loves Margaret, he goes for it even though he “daren’t believe a woman like that could care for me.” He MUST ask her! Goodnight!

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  8. Only Darcy will do, and that means only Colin Firth! Not that Richard Armitage is not great as Mr. Thornton, but only Colin as Darcy is the best.

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  9. I’ve always been more of a Captain Wentworth over Darcy kind of girl. His love is truer and much more steadfast and he chooses a woman his age, his first love, even when he had the chance to woo and marry a prettier younger girl. However, I can’t believe I lived 28 years without knowing John Thornton. He is perfection in the book and Richard Armitage (of whose existence I was also sadly ignorant) brings him deliciously to life and into the Pantheon of timeless Romantic Heroes.

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  10. I think it’s unfair to compare the two, given that they are born from close, but very different time periods. Austen and Gaskell wrote about two very different eras with different principles. I, for once, do not wish to chose between the two, I enjoy them both for who they are, they are both amazing characters 🙂

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  11. Couldn’t watch N&S after that first scene of him beating the crap out of some guy. The sheer intensity of the punches and kicks and the resulting obvious pain and the bloodiness made me sick. (And no, I don’t faint at the sight of blood!) The first time we see Darcy1995 he is riding across the fields with Bingley, teasing him about country society, which his future wife looks on. No. Contest. At. All. And altho’ Colin is definitely dreamy, my heart has been drifting towards Elliot Cowan, the Mr Darcy of Lost in Austen. I mean, what can you say about a dreamboat who would harrow hell for love? Sigh … Well, I still have no plans to watch N&S but I did receive a PB copy for Xmas and hope to get to it soon. BTW, every time I see that scene from Episode 1 where Darcy and Elizabeth run into each other, I’m reminded of the stage direction for CF for when he first sees her: According to a “behind the scenes” video, at that point CF’s direction is “Darcy has an erection.” Kinda difficult to get that out of my mind. LOL!

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