Austen at Large: Mr. Elton on Facebook

My class assignment taken to the fullest extent!

Mr. Elton on Facebook

 

 And of course he must have his say.

Mr. Elton's Facebook Page Notes

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Austen at Large: Missing the Jane Austen Centre

Virginia Claire and friend, the Jane Austen Festival (2008)

This week I have been thinking about my experience as an intern at the good ol’ Jane Austen Centre last year, which I miss so much. I might have the good fortune to go back to England during the summer, but I will not know till the end of this month. In thinking about returning to England this week, I have also been thinking about how much I miss Bath and the Jane Austen Centre. Coming back to the US has been both wonderful and trying. I miss England everyday and wished that I had planned to stay a year. If I was giving advice to someone trying to study abroad I would really suggest going for a year. I think by the end of the semester you are just at the tip of the iceberg and that a full year would better allow you to immerse yourself in the life and society.

I just miss everyone at the Jane Austen Centre. I still keep in contact with many of them and have seen some of the new updates and improvements to the exhibition. From my understanding everything has been going well, especially after the exhibition was reopened after it was renovated. I love the new layout and look of it. I think what I miss most about the JAC is the people. I loved everyone that I worked with and they were such a wonderful and eclectic group. Everyone brought their own particular interest or spin to Jane Austen that it was really a wonderful place to grow in love and knowledge of her writing. I can remember just being in the gift shop passing the time and sticking up all sorts of interesting conversations with my co workers. This is perhaps where I learned the most about Austen, not from some book, but from talking about her and questioning.

Virginia Claire and her friends at the Jane Austen Festival (2008)

Every now and again I go through all my pictures from England and some of my favorites are from the Jane Austen Festival and my going away dinner with the Jane Austen Centre staff. I love reminiscing over these because they bring back such wonderful memories, but it is also hard because I know that that time is gone. I wish I could go back; I am dying to go back. Looking at the pictures is sometimes bitter sweet because though it reminds me of wonderful times it also reminds me that I will not be back at the Jane Austen Festival this year. I am hoping to return in a few years perhaps when I get out of school, but who knows. One of the good parts about being back though is that I am able to still fill that Jane Austen void in my life because of my Jane Austen class and writing this weekly article for Austenprose. It is so wonderful to be able to bring forward things each week that interest me and read everyone else’s thoughts on the comments.

In my Jane Austen class we have just finished Mansfield Park and have started Emma. One of our assignments for next week is to write a modern blog for a character in Emma concerning Harriet Smith and the Mr. Elton fiasco. My friend and I are doing Mr. Elton’s point of view for our blog, so hopefully I will be able to post that next week for everyone to enjoy. We had so much fun in reading my friend Maggie’s contribution earlier in the year that my teacher decided to have us all write a new one to see how creative we could be. It should be a really funny class!

Emma, by Jane Austen (Oxford World's Classics) 2008In filling my English void I have resulted to drinking lots of hot tea, even though it is getting warmer down here in North Carolina, and to watching British comedies like Jeeves and Wooster. Not to mention, of course, reading Jane Austen’s Emma. This is such a fun novel to reread. I will be really interested to see what everyone else thinks who has not read Emma before, and those of us who have in my class are trying to watch what we say, so that we don’t give anything away!

Till Next Week, Cheerio!

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

  • Watch a short promotional film about the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
  • Visit the Jane Austen Centre online Gift Shop
  • Catch up on Virginia Claire’s experience last year as an Intern at the Jane Austen Centre in the Austen Intern Checks In archives

Austen at Large: Bringing Jane Austen to Schools

Virginia Claire speaking to students about Jane Austen (2009)

Since returning home from my Internship at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath and my travels in England, I have been very fortunate to be invited by my old high school, Saint Mary’s School and another high school called St. David’s to speak about my Austen travels and Pride and Prejudice to several classes. I have given at least half a dozen of these talks this year and have really enjoyed doing it. I have really wanted to do these talks because though my love of Jane Austen started from a young age, it was fostered and nourished by my high school teachers.

Virginia Claire with her former teacher Dr. Belknap of St. Mary's High School (2009)

I hope the students learned something new about Austen or that I have brought up topics that they have not considered before. I start my presentation giving a brief Austen biography, the family history and so on, and then move into her writing and life in Bath. 

Virginia Claire and two Regency Bucks, the Jane Austen Festival (2008)Most of the kids enjoy all of my pictures from the Jane Austen festival when I am dressed up in Regency style and they get a good reaction. I go through the different places she lived in Bath since I have pictures of many of them. Explaining why Bath was important, difficult and influential to Austen. 

Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen's last residenceI then move to Chawton which I think intrigues the students the most since that is where she lived and where Austen wrote or re-wrote her novels. When talking about Chawton I discuss the influence of her sister Cassandra, the publishing of her novels, and then her decline of health. I also show pictures of the house in Winchester where she died and her grave stone. One of the questions I always propose to the students is; what is missing from her description on her grave? Which reads,

In Memory of
JANE AUSTEN,
youngest daughter of the late
Revd GEORGE AUSTEN,
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County She departed this Life on the 18th of July1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and hopes of a Christian.
The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER.

I always point out to them that it does not mention her writing. This shocks many of the students because they are unaware that her novels were published “by a lady” rather than publishing under her own name.

Jane Austen's grave stone, Winchester Cathedral

After giving a little bio I then like to talk to the students about Jane Austen’s legacy. Several students, but never as many as I expected, have read Austen novels, or seen the movies before. Perhaps I only think this because I was introduced to Austen at a young age but I always felt like many people in my classes had read Pride and Prejudice before or at least seen the movies. Austen’s legacy is one of the most important aspects of teaching about her because her popularity has been growing so much over the last years and it is interesting to ask the students why. I try to explain to the students that Austen is so much more than a romantic comedy writer. Her novels are full of issues that are still important today, many are still funny today but they still bring to light issues that though might have changed over the years are still there. One point I also try to hit home with students is about the movies and not to take them literally as the novel, but as someone else’s interpretation. I encourage them to question them and interpret it their own way. I also try to emphasize the over romanticizing of Austen in many movies and what that does to the story. Later in the semester I will be going back to one class to talk with them about adaptations and what they change and show about Austen. It should be a very interesting discussion.

Pride and Prejudice (1980) DVD cover      Pride and Prejudice (1995) DVD cover

In doing these talks this semester I have learned so much about teaching Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice. It has been an amazing experience to try and really introduce students to Jane Austen and try to bring my passion to them. I think that is one thing that most of the students get – my passion for Jane Austen. When I speak at these classes, I really love what I am talking about and it makes me think that I want to do this professionally. I would love to be able to teach literature and spread my love of not only Jane Austen but of reading and literature in general. We will see what I end up doing after college and where this world will take me, but in the end, I would just love to spread my love of Jane Austen, wither it be to the world or to a group of students.

Until next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Austen at Large: Jane Reads Pride and Prejudice to Miss Benn – the luckiest woman in the world

Pride and Prejudice first edition (1813)I have been reading Austen’s letters this week that have to do with Pride and Prejudice, and in them I have found a very intriguing story. When Pride and Prejudice was first published, Jane and her mother read the story aloud over several nights to Miss Benn who was dinning with them. Jane read the first half one night, and her mother read the second half on another evening. In letters to her sister Cassandra on 29 January 1813 and then again on 4 February 1813, Jane Austen explains…

Miss Benn dinned with us on the very day of the Books coming, & in the evening we set fairly at it & read half the first volume to her – prefacing that having intelligence from Henry that such a work would soon appear we had desired him to send it whenever it came out – & I believe it passed with her unsuspected.

I don’t know if Miss Benn knew how lucky she was. It is slightly unclear whether Miss Benn ever knew that Jane Austen was the author or not, but I got the impresTitle page from a first edition of Pride and Prejudice (1813)sion that at least at first she didn’t. What a lucky lady! Who would not kill to have Jane Austen read the part of Mrs. Bennet or Elizabeth? It would have been a truly magical experience.

Miss Benn was the younger sister of the Reverend John Benn who was the rector of Farringdon. She was unmarried and living in very poor circumstances in Chawton, close to the Austen’s. She dined with them frequently, as we can see in some of Jane’s letters and is often remembered by Cassandra who gave her a gift of a shawl. Though she was a very poor ‘old maid’, I think she has an enviable situation because she got to hear Jane Austen read Pride and Prejudice aloud.

Jane Austen also writes about Miss Benn’s enjoyment of the novel. “She was amused, poor soul! That she could not help you know, with two such people to lead the way; but she really does seem to admire Elizabeth.” Then we get to the famous quote about Jane Austen’s view of Elizabeth saying…

I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.”

The second night of reading did not go over as well as the first because Jane writes in the February 4th letter remarking, “I had had some fits of disgust.” Miss Benn was again at the second reading for Pride and Prejudice but Jane tells Cassandra of some problems with their mother’s reading of the novel. She says, “I believe something must be attributed to my Mother’s too rapid way of getting on.” I can just imagine Mrs. Austen rushing through one of Jane’s favorite passages and how annoying that would have been to her. I am sIllustration of a morning dress from La Belle Assemblee (1813)ure she had specific voices in her head for characters and specific ways that conversations would have happened, but Mrs. Austen must not have been doing the best job. Jane explains to Cassandra, “& though she perfectly understands the characters herself, she cannot speak as they ought. Upon the whole however I am quite vain enough & well satisfied enough.”

We can only imagine what it would have been like to be a fly on the wall that evening and what a great thing it must have been. To hear Jane Austen read her own beloved characters the day that she received the text in the mail, whoa! I can only dream in my head how wonderfully witty that would have been. (NOT ANYTHING LIKE THE READING IN THE MOVIE BECOMING JANE AT THE VERY END!!! ) She must have been thrilled, exuberant, excited and yet able to conceal it all from Miss Benn who did not know that Jane was the author, and how lucky she was to be hearing the first reading of the newly published Pride and Prejudice. If only there was such a thing as a time machine, I would go back to that night just to be a fly on the wall.

Until next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Further reading 

Austen at Large: Vote for your Favorite Pride and Prejudice Bachelor

The bachelors of Pride and Prejudice

In thinking about Pride and Prejudice for the last couple of weeks, my mind has naturally wondered to the men in this novel, the single men particularly. As a young woman of 20, it is a subject that my mind often turns to. There are more young single men in this novel than any other that I can think of, and some of the best and worst. The men that jump to my mind as the bachelors of Pride and Prejudice are George Wickham, William Collins, Charles Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Fitzwilliam Darcy and the gang of militia officers that Lydia and Kitty run after. All these men offer the girls in the novel different things. Some offer love, some security, and the very best ones offer both. These 5 different men, I think, show a lot about relationships.

Rupert Friend as George Wickham, Pride & Prejudice (2005)Lt. George Wickham (son of Mr. Darcy’s stewart) is the dashing young man who flatters Elizabeth’s vanity by choosing to pay her attention. Elizabeth is not only flattered by him but she is also manipulated into believing his back story of his life and his history with Darcy. Wickham is dashing, smart and clever yet he has no fortune and does not have a steady work history (though he blames others for this). Wickham is probably the best looking bachelor and uses this to his advantage in the women that he tries to win. He is definitely a player as well in the novel, we see him or hear about him with many women including Georgiana, Elizabeth, Miss King and Lydia. This is not a very good track record for someone yet he still manages to get girls. Wickham is the dashing young officer that every girl dreams of and every mother loves until they find out his true colors.

David Bamber as Rev. Mr. Colins, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Rev. Mr. William Collins (Rector of Hunsford in Kent) thinks he is a big fish in a little pond. He comes to Longbourn for the purpose of choosing a wife. He is not a romantic though he offers his wife security. When he finds out that Jane is almost off the market he simply moves down the line to Lizzy, thus showing just how unromantic he is. (I have always wondered if Bingley was not in the picture if Jane would have married Collins or if Mrs. Bennet would have at least tried to get them together?). Mr. Collins is a buffoon to say the very least of his character. I think he is more in love with Lady Catherine than he is with Charlotte. In my class of 20 year old college students it was of course brought up that there was a “young olive branch” coming to the Collins family. And as my teacher point out, “there is only one way to get an olive branch!”. Life with Mr. Collins might not be grand but if a woman wanted to get out of her parents house it might he might seem like a good catch.

Simon Woods as Charles Bingley, Pride & Prejudice (2005)Mr. Charles Bingley (age 22, heir to £100,000)  is an interesting bachelor because he is so important yet we hear so little of him except through other people. After all he is introduced in the first page of the novel yet we rarely get a conversation with Bingley and his love Jane. I have always wondered what they were talking about at all those dinner parties and dances. Bingley is the “nice guy” though he is a little too easily lead by others I feel like. Bingley is wonderful guy who is rich and yet willing to love Jane and see past her family flaws and her lack of money. Bingley also stays in love with Jane when he is in London and separated. He is a wonderful bachelor but is perhaps there is still something lacking in Bingley, a strong spirit or a passion perhaps. It is hard to pinpoint though because he just seems so nice and caring.

Anthony Calf as Colonel Fitzwilliam, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Colonel Fitzwilliam (younger son of an Earl & cousin of Mr. Darcy) is one of my favorite bachelors. He is charming, an officer (so he is in a red coat) and gentlemanly. He makes good conversation and comes from a good family. Colonel Fitswilliams only down fall is that he is a second son so that he cannot marry merely for love but also for money. I have always thought that he is one of my favorite guys in the novel just because of the openness he has with Elizabeth and how conversational and charming he is. He does not always bring good news to be sure, but he can openly talk with her which I think is important. Though he has good family connections and visits Rosing it does not seem to taint his understanding of the world or his pride or vanity. He is a complete gentleman, if only he was a first son! Plus he is in a red coat, and those look soo good!

David Rintoul as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1980)Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (age 28, of Pemberley in Derbyshire with £10,000 a year) is the hero of the novel and what a man he is! He is smart, clever yet perhaps a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. He is proud but comes from a good family and has a good upbringing. He is a loving brother and his servants speak very highly of him. He is also giving and forgiving which is very important especially with Elizabeth. One of my favorite aspects of Darcy is that he changes in the end and sees how he was wrong before. At the beginning of the novel he is proud and arrogant but by the end he is more understanding and has changed for the better. Mr. Darcy is also able to keep up with Elizabeth in their banter back and forth with not only shows his wit but also his spirit though it seems a little suppressed she draws it out of him. Mr. Darcy as the hero of the novel is an amazing bachelor and we kind of wonder why he has not married before now (it is of course because he has not met Elizabeth yet!)

David Bark-Jones as Lt. Denny, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Colonel Forster & Co (the _shire Militia) The officers of the militia are Kitty and Lydia’s dream bachelors and we can see why. They are young, fun and wear dashing red coats. Yet they lack the maturity is similar to the girls that are chasing them. If I had to equate them to guys today I would say that they were frat boys who were interested in having a good time but who were not interested in settling down.

So gentle readers, who would you vote for? I think I might have to go for Colonel Fitzwilliam myself because I love red coats and yet I would want someone with a little more substance and conversation than just a normal officer. Bingley is too nice for me and though Darcy is wonderful, I would be happy to settle for his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Until Next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Austen at Large: Darcy and Davies: Adapting Mr. Darcy from the Novel to the Screen

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most popular if not most adapted novel, and  its famous hero Mr. Darcy has been interpreted in many different ways. There have been several excellent period adaptations of Pride and Prejudice which present Darcy’s character differently, particularly Fay Weldon’s 1980 and Andrew Davies 1995 versions. These two adaptations master the characters of Austen’s work which is so important. Weldon’s perhaps captures it slightly better than Davies’ because she is not as focused on Darcy as he is. Davies’s tries to bring Darcy’s side of the story forward so that the viewer sympathizes with him and sees what a good character he is long before Elizabeth feels the same way. This goes against the feeling of the novel because the reader is guided by Elizabeth’s thoughts for the majority of the novel rather than understanding Darcy’s.

David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1980)

Pride and Prejudice‘s popularity has been growing over the years bringing more people to Jane Austen as well. Many of the adaptations are wonderful but the viewer has to keep in mind that it is the novel that is at the heart of the film. They should not depart drastically. Pride and Prejudice can be adapted faithfully to the novel while bringing the characters to life. It is only a matter of the writer and director doing it, some have and some have not.

Mr. Darcy in the tub, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Davies’ adaptation might as well be called “Darcy’s Story” at times. Darcy is a great character in the novel and yet the story is not about him. It is about Elizabeth, her relationship with her family, and then Darcy. In Davies screenplay Darcy’s point of view is given to the viewer to show us his softer side, the side Elizabeth can’t see immediately but the viewer can. In the novel Darcy is suppose to be constantly looking at Elizabeth and these looks can explain a lot about his character. Andrew Davies explained,

One of the first things that struck me about Pride and Prejudice is that the central motor which drives the story forward is Darcy’s sexual attraction to Elizabeth. He doesn’t particularly like her, he’s appalled by the rest of her family and he fights desperately against this attraction.” (BBC website)

In Davies’ version these looks are almost always of admiration and approbation, yet in other versions it is not easy to tell why Darcy is looking at Elizabeth. David Rintoul’s Darcy in the 1980 Weldon adaptation hides his facial expressions better than Firth’s 1995 Darcy does. Yet, perhaps Firth is meaning to wear emotions on his face (though this is not very Darcy like) to bring him more to life and to make him more agreeable. One positive aspect of Darcy in this adaptation is that he practically has to relearn everything he thought he knew about women to get Elizabeth. He has been use to objectifying them but when Elizabeth comes along, she sparks a change in him. The problem is that this is a little too fanciful. Darcy does change and for the better with Elizabeth’s help, but as Elizabeth points out to herself in the end of the novel “She remembered that he had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin“. He is not a completely changed creature and Elizabeth knows this. The viewer, like the reader should love Darcy in the end for the reasons Elizabeth does. That he is a gracious, kind, thoughtful man and he is better than we ever believed possible from their first encounter; yet for this to be successful the viewer cannot be idolizing over Darcy for three quarters of the film which is what most viewers are doing in this version.

Mr. Darcy does the dip, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Davies’ adaptation is an almost faithful reworking of the novel for a modern and sexual audience. Darcy’s sex appeal cannot be over looked and is overplayed by Firth. In the novel Darcy’s character is what makes him a fine man, not his body. The story shifts focus in this adaptation to Darcy which though it seems faithful, I think it undermines Austen’s original story because viewers can feel more sympathy for Darcy than they do for Elizabeth.

Although Jane Austen’s book was told very much from Elizabeth’s point of view, Andrew decided to make his version very much Darcy’s story as well. He did this partly by inserting new scenes which showed Darcy outside the stiff social events, allowing the viewer to see more of the real man” (BBC website).

The opening of film shows what the emphasis will be about as Davies opens his film with Darcy and Bingley riding on horseback, rather than begining with one of the most famous line in the English language, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife“. Instead, Elizabeth is given these lines a few scenes in, but by starting with Darcy, Davies’ is perhaps showing where his focus will be throughout the production, on Darcy rather than on Elizabeth.

 Pride and Prejudice (1995) DVD cover        Pride and Prejudice (1980) DVD cover

As much as I love the 1995 adaptation written by Andrew Davies, I really dislike how Darcy takes the center stage at times. Even when looking at the  DVD cover compared with the 1980 Fay Weldon version, the 1995 cover includes Colin Firth as Darcy front and center with Elizabeth only in the background with Jane, while on my 1980 DVD cover it has Elizabeth and Jane in the front and Darcy only in the background with Elizabeth. I know these might be merely marketing issues that I am raising but it is worth thinking about because if the focus of the adaptation changes too much, then what is it saying about those who are watching it. I just get tired of the Darcy mania. I sometimes feel that I am on a soap box shouting about him so I don’t want people to think that I don’t like him in the end. I DO. Who couldn’t? But I just think that readers and viewers of the movies should remember the original story in mind because that is what is so amazing, not some adaptation of it. Ok enough soap box… what does everyone else think?

Until next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland. 

Austen at Large: Some of my own prejudices when it come to Pride and Prejudice

Matthew Macfayden, Pride and Prejudice 2005

This week, as I began to reread Pride and Prejudice with my Jane Austen class, I have discovered some prejudices that I have. In reading a book that I know and love so well, I have almost found it hard to understand some people’s opinions of it. I will say that most girls in my class are very thoughtful and make wonderful remarks but there are some that I completely disagree with. I don’t know if it is because of my own prejudices against these views or what, but at times I feel that people are letting the adaptations influence their readings of the novel. Though I try to be a very thoughtful reader, and believe that students individually take away different things from a text, I find it difficult to understand where some of these girls are coming from. Sometimes I think that adaptations have limited or influenced their point of view, and yet when I think about it perhaps another adaptation has influenced or limited me as well. Yet I do try to look at the text for the text, and not how it is adapted in a movie.

I will give an example of this situation: We were reading aloud Darcy’s 1st proposal and Elizabeth’s refusal when one of the girls said “I think that Elizabeth really wanted to say yes somewhere deep down inside of her.” I could not let this observation go by without commenting on it because I did not see that in the text. If anyone wants to make an argument for it I would be more than willing to listen to it, but all this student could back it up with was that she just had a feeling that Elizabeth really wanted to say yes. When I read the text I see Elizabeth being completely driven by her dislike, irritation and misunderstanding of Darcy. She has just been pouring over her beloved sister Jane’s letters examining how much pain Jane is in because of Darcy. She notices that,

They contained no actual complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, or any communication of present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a want of that cheerfulness which had been used to characterize her style, and which, proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself, and kindly disposed towards every one, had been scarcely ever clouded. (Chapter 34)

I think that for Elizabeth the knowledge of Mr. Darcy’s evolvement with the separation of Jane and Mr. Bingley would have driven away any feelings that she ever had (and which I think she NEVER had) for him.

Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice 2005

What I see in comments like this in class is the problem of Austen adaptations. I am not blaming any movie particularly, but rather the viewer. Every adaption brings something to the table that is interesting, and it is good to see many different points of view and such. What I have a HUGE problem with is when the adaptations start to taint the books; when readers start seeing the book as the movie and trying to make them fit together. No adaptation is ever going to be completely faithful to a book, (though the Fay Weldon 1980 Pride and Prejudice is pretty close), yet it is the job of the viewer to know the difference, and see through the movie. I think my friend was allowing the 2005 movie to influence her reading of the novel. I see that movie as trying to portray that Lizzy and Darcy are meant for each other from the first time they meet and that in the proposal scene, though Lizzy is very mad, there is some part of her that is still attracted to and interested in Darcy. As if they were soul mates and their souls were drawn together and yet their minds were keeping them apart.

I think this is making too much of the romance of the novel and ignoring Elizabeth’s real thoughts and feelings on the matter. The novel says,

In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man’s affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger (Chapter 34).

I think this shows Elizabeth’s feeling on the matter perfectly. “Her intentions did not vary for a second“. It is hard for me to see the argument of Lizzy really wanted to say “yes” to Mr. Darcy in this scene. I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy it as an argument in the text and I certainly don’t buy it in the adaptation when they almost kiss at the end of the scene.

Matthew Macfayden, Pride and Prejudice 2005

I would be interested to know anyone else’s opinion on the subject because I think the use and power of adaptations is very interesting especially with Austen. A movie will never out do the book for me, I just wish that we would become better readers so that the novel will be speaking rather than an adaptation of it. Perhaps these are just my prejudices against those who perhaps like the movies better than the books, but as a lover of Austen’s novels it is hard for me to see how anything could surpass them.

Till next week!

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

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