Naturally, Mr. Darcy...
In the era of the Regency, public discourse was much more formal than it is now. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet refers to the man who will become the love of her life as Mr. Darcy or simply Darcy. In fact, his first name is only mentioned twice in the entire novel.
Even in private, many couples continued to address each other very formally. Elizabeth’s parents called each other Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, not by their Christian names.
Because Elizabeth is the second daughter, she’s known as Miss Elizabeth. Her older sister Jane is the only one of the girls to be called Miss Bennet. It’s all very proper, very stiff sounding to modern ears.
Or is it?
Lately, I’ve noticed the trend of using last names instead of first in a couple of my favorite TV shows. HOUSE for example, as well as CASTLE and THE MENTALIST. It’s not Lisa and Greg, it’s Cuddy and House. Kate Beckett calls my favorite fictional mystery writer Castle, not Richard. And in a weird genre-bending twist it’s Lisbon and Jane, not Theresa and Patrick.
Since I write full-time, I’m not in a workplace regularly, but my DH assures me in his office people call each other by their first names. So what’s up with almost exclusive use of last names on these shows?
Maybe, as in the Regency, it’s a layer of formality slathered over society as a protective covering, a way to separate the character’s public life from their private one. When Cuddy calls House ‘Greg,’ for example, you know you’ve got an intensely personal moment.
So what do you think? Do people call each other by last names in your workplace? Do you even remember Mr. Darcy’s first name? (No Googling!) Do you ever refer to your significant other by last name?