Lady Catherine vs. Elizabeth Bennet in the Prettyish Kind of Little Wilderness

One of my favorite scenes in Pride and Prejudice, and quite possibly in all literature, is the confrontation by Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet in the prettyish kind of little wilderness at Longbourn. Lady Catherine has just heard an alarming report that her nephew, Mr. Darcy, was shortly to be engaged to Miss Bennet. The conversation, cat and mouse to be sure, is one of the most amazing dialogues in print. I will leave it to the reader to decide who is the cat, and who the mouse!

Each of the movie adaptations has made their attempt to capture Jane Austen’s incredibly civil, uncivil conversation between two opposing forces. Here are film clips for comparison created by Lelablue on Youtube for your enjoyment. Watch each of the versions and vote for your favorite.

P&P 1940: staring Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Edna May Oliver as Lady Catherine

P&P 1980: staring Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet and Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine

P&P 1995: Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Barbara Leigh-Hunt as Lady Catherine

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice 1995 (Restored Edition) Available April 27th, 2010

Yep. Just when you thought that you would have to buy a Blu-ray video player to get better picture quality than previous editions of Pride and Prejudice 1995 the good folks at A&E have gone a done it. They have digitally remastered the pinnacle of perfection in Jane Austen adaptations, Pride and Prejudice 1995. Now you can really see the drops of water run down Darcy chest after he takes his plunge into the Pemberley pond. ;-)

If you pre-order through that place that is not Barnes & Noble, it is being offered at 52% off the list price of $39.95. Do the math or just go order it.  The offical release date is April 27, 2010. Here is the cover blurb and all the geeky details.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has taken its place as one of the greatest television productions of all time. The landmark adaptation from A&E and the BBC captured the hearts of millions by seamlessly translating the wit, romance, and intelligence of Jane Austen’s classic novel to the screen.

With a masterful script, deft direction, and star-making performances from Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE transports viewers to Georgian England, where affairs of the heart are an exquisite game, and marriage the ultimate prize. But Elizabeth Bennet – spirited, independent, and one of five unmarried sisters – is determined to play by her own rules and wed for love, not money or privilege. Will her romantic sparring with the mysterious and arrogant Darcy end in misfortune–or will love’s true nature prevail?

Now beautifully remastered for the ultimate in picture and sound quality, relive the timeless classic PRIDE & PREJUDICE on 2 DVDs.

Bonus Features:

  • Completely Digitally Remastered for the Ultimate in Picture and Sound Quality
  • Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation
  • Featurettes “Lasting Impressions,” “An Impromptu Walkabout with Adrian Lukis and Lucy Briers,” “Turning Point,” “Uncovering the Technical Restoration Process”
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette: “The Making of Pride and Prejudice”
  • English Subtitles

Additional Details:

  • Format: Box Set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Run Time: 5 Hours 23 Minutes + extras
  • Region: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Language: English
  • Studio: A&E Television Networks
  • Closed Captioning: No
  • ASIN: B00364K6YW
  • UPC: 733961206739

I feel a P&P 1995 Twitter Party calling.

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: The Flaws & Perfections of Miss Eliza Bennet

Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1979)

As many people who read this blog each week may know, Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite heroine. She is witty, caring, intelligent, honest, and bold. All characteristics which though I myself may not possess, I respect them in characters, as well as in people. In Elizabeth Bennet I do not see an idealized woman, yet I find her perfect. She has flaws, real ones, which I think makes her such a power and realistic character. Elizabeth Bennet would be the type of girl that I think many people would want to be their best friend. (Though we would not want the same fate as Charlotte) Elizabeth’s true beauty comes though in her dialogue and through her witty conversations with Charlotte, her father and Mr. Darcy and her ability to laugh at herself, a trait Mr. Darcy has not picked up yet. Elizabeth remembers “that he had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin” (Chapter 58). I feel like Eliza Bennet is one of those rare great characters who everyone can feel some connect to and who everyone likes. I dont think I have ever meet anyone who dislikes Elizabeth (though I would love to meet someone to argue it). I have seen her described as too critical and such, but I do not see that as a fault. I think it makes her more realistic and therefor more satisfactory that she has faults like being a little to judgmental. It only makes me love her more for them.

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

In thinking about Elizabeth Bennet this week I was trying to think of characteristics and instances in the book where we see these being personified. Her cynicism is one of my favorite aspects of her personality. She says things that I wish I either had the guts to say or the wit to think up. Perhaps my favorite quote of Elizabeth is,

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense” (Chapter 24).

I don’t know about everyone else, but I think this statement works as well in the 21st-century as it did in her own. In fact this might be one of my favorite Jane Austen sayings because I quote it so much.

Grear Garson as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Elizabeth’s strength of character is another reason why I respect her. She stands up to Darcy and defends her sister Jane and Wickham. Yet she still can admit when she has been wrong. When Mr. Darcy proposes and Elizabeth’s rejects him the first time, she doesn’t just say no, (in today’s world she might say “HELL NO“) but she stands up to him about wrongs he has done. It takes and great strength of character and confidence to confront such a power man as Mr. Darcy. She later also stand up for herself against Lady Catherine. Both times Elizabeth is encountering someone more powerful than herself, yet as Elizabeth puts it, “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me” (Chapter 31).

Though Elizabeth has the courage to stand up for herself, she also has the strength to know when she has been wrong, though it might take her a little while to figure it out. The fact that Eliza can disclose her faults makes her a real woman to the reader. Eliza admits,

but vanity, not love, has been my folly. — Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself” (Chapter 31).

This is perhaps one of my favorite moments in the book because I feel like we really get to see into Eliza. She has the realization of her misjudgment and accepts it acknowledging her faults along the way. I see this moment as one of the most powerful for Elizabeth as a character and in Jane Austen with writing this. The intuition is astounding in this passage because Jane Austen seems to have the innate ability to look into Elizabeth’s soul and understand its workings even concerning things like her vanity.

Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bakshi, Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Though Elizabeth has the courage to stand up for herself, she also has the strength to know when she has been wrong, though it might take her a little while to figure it out. The fact that Eliza can disclose her faults makes her a real woman to the reader. Eliza admits,

but vanity, not love, has been my folly. — Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, never knew myself” (Chapter 31).

This is perhaps one of my favorite moments in the book because I feel like we really get to see into Eliza. She has the realization of her misjudgment and accepts it acknowledging her faults along the way. I see this moment as one of the most powerful for Elizabeth as a character and in Jane Austen with writing this. The intuition is astounding in this passage because Jane Austen seems to have the innate ability to look into Elizabeth’s soul and understand its workings even concerning things like her vanity.

Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice (2005)

With Eliza Bennet I see a character that though not perfect by any means she is some form of an ideal. But perhaps this “ideal woman” has shifted through time from the Jane Bennet, “angel in the house” type woman to the Eliza Bennet. Eliza is feisty, clever, smart and honest yet she is also critical, cynical and judgmental at times. These “bad” qualities, I will not count as such. I don’t think they are necessarily an evil I think they are her insight. But perhaps this is yet again my prejudice for Eliza Bennet coming through. I just find her to be so extraordinary. I told one of my friends last year that she was “such an Elizabeth Bennet“, then to only say “and you dont know what a big complement that is coming from me“. She remarked “oh yes I do” : ). I just loved that she picked up on how much I admire Elizabeth and that she understood the comment for what it meant, that I saw her acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses of herself and still being able to laugh at herself. Eliza might not be everyone’s ideal heroine or woman but I agree with what Jane Austen wrote about her when she said, “I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know“.

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.

Who Wants Mr. Darcy Hanging Around Your House – – All the Time?

Portrait of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (1995)The portrait of actor Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice is on the block on January 21st through Bonhams Auction House in London and available to the highest bidder. This may very well be the ultimate Darcy fan collectible. Not only is it a portrait of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, it represent the most significant turning point in the novel when the heroine Elizabeth Bennet gazes up at the Master of Pemberley and realizes that he’s not the chump that she thought he was; begins to fall in love; changing the course of novel and literary history; tra la! 

And what a clever plot twist Jane Austen devised in having heroine Elizabeth Bennet so moved by the depiction and what he entails, “As a brother, a landlord, a master,” that her reaction to the portrait adds a “more gentle sensation toward the original” and “regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before“. Other authors over the years have recognized the importance of a good portrait and used it to their advantage. Hollywood has picked up on this also, and I have been fascinated over the years how often it pops up in films. The most famous movie portrait is probably from the 1944 film-noir classic Laura, starring Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt whose hauntingly beautiful portrait moves the detective Mark Dana Andrews gazes at the portrait of Gene Tierney as Laura (1944)McPherson played by Dana Andrews to fall in love with her even though he is investigating her murder. Another great movie portrait is shown in Gone With the Wind. The vain heroine Scarlett O’Hara Butler has just given birth, and as the father Rhett Butler toasts his wife and new daughter, we see a huge full length portrait of Scarlett in the background looking down supremely over the scene. From that moment on the plot significantly changes when Scarlett decides she is too fat from the baby and will have no more, spurning her husband from their bed and ruining their love. The ultimate movie portrait gone bad is in the 1945 Gothic classic, The Picture of Dorian Gray based on the 1891 novel by Oscar Wilde in which a vain plea by the young handsome hero to never grow old is mysteriously granted, but his portrait grotesquely ages, ultimatley destorying him. Jane Austen knew of the power of the portrait, but her predecessors have never reached the impact that she achieved in one brief passage in the novel. 

A more flattering view of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, (1995)The Darcy portrait has never been one of my favorites. I have always thought that it was not very flattering to either entities, Mr. Darcy or Mr. Firth. It made them look stout and way too middle-aged, which either was not. It appears that during the production of the 1995 miniseries the portrait had an even worse beginning and improvements were made to try to give Mr. Darcy a more favorable interpretation. You can read the full story written by Colin Firth in the letter that accompanies the lucky winner of the portrait. The proceeds of the auction will benefit charities, though its provenance is not mentioned. One wonders out loud if it has been in Firth’s possession and he was ready to pass it on so to speak. I can’t blame him really, because it is not his best likeness. However, from the viewpoint of a national treasure, that is another story, which some deep pocket or Jane Austen institution will be happy to supplant equal measure in pewter to Bonhams for the sheer pleasure of having Mr. Darcy gaze at them all day long!

Pride and Prejudice: Which Mr. Darcy Has the Noble Mien for You?

Portrait of Edmund Lenthal Swifte circa 1802, by John OpieMr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley… The Narrator, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 3

This is our introduction to the infamous Mr. Darcy from chapter three. Fine, tall, handsome, noble with ten thousand pounds a year! What a social pedigree. What unmarried woman, or over anxious mother would not want to snag him as a husband for themselves or their daughter? Interestingly, the description is subjective, allowing the reader to insert their own physical characteristics to form their ideal Mr. Darcy. How then did the archetype of Fitzwilliam Darcy as dark haired and fair complected come about? Blame the movies.

This striking portrait of a Regency era gentleman matches my impression of what Mr. Darcy should look like in my mind from Jane Austen’s description and the later influence of Hollywood and television. When I came across this portrait of Edmund Lenthal Swifte on the Tate Museum website, I was struck by the incredible similarity to actor David Rintoul who had portrayed Mr. Darcy in the 1979 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. They could be twins separated at birth by two hundred years. ;)

So gentle readers, who is your ultimate Darcy archetype? In a contest of dueling Darcy’s between Edmund Lenthal Swifte, Sir Lawrence Olivier, David Rintoul, Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen or Elliot Cowan, who really floats your boat? Cast your vote before November 1. You might just be surprised with the results.

Dueling Mr. Darcys

Me and Mr. Darcy, (not the book …)

Illustration of Mr. Darcy, by Chris Duke, (1980)“And that,” said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, “is my master — and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other — about eight years ago.”  

“I have heard much of your master’s fine person,” said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; “it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.”  

Mrs. Reynolds’s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master. 

“Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?”  

Elizabeth coloured, and said — “A little.”  

“And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma’am?”  

“Yes, very handsome.”

Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Gardiner & Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43 

Darcy Sightings

The sun is shining today in the Pacific Northwest, and consequently I am quite distracted and have bloggers malaise! The temperatures are in low 80’s! I am in raptures to say the least, enjoying one of the 10 – 20 days of clear skies and warm weather that we will receive in a year. If any of you use Google Earth and have looked up your homes from a satellite view, this is a day that those geeks who take the photos jump around like monkeys to get clear pictures to update the database! Real Estate types are also busy today, snapping photos of all of their home listings to plaster on their web sites to trick out-of-towners into thinking this is usual weather in the Pacific Northwest!  I know, I know; —  I am as cynical as Jane Austen’s character Mr. Palmer to be sure! 

Image of Lake Stevens with Mt. Pilchuck in the distance (2008)

My neighborhood in the country turns into another world when the sun shines. Imagine, I actually need my sun glasses to see outside. As I walked to my car to run errands, a swallowtail butterfly fluttered across my path and almost collided with me. He was drunk on the sunshine too! I live quite close to a lake, and the road that I travel to the market skirts the shore past a public beach (so to speak) where boaters can launch their jet skis (argh) and swimmers can brave the cold water. The view to the distant Mt. Pilchuck with its patches of lingering snow is quite lovely, when we can see it. Being the eternal optimist, I bought fudge cicles to stock up for the weekend, and stopped by the beach on my way back and enjoyed one while looking at the view. There were scads of teenagers on the rocky beach sitting on towels and chairs trying to get a one day tan, hip-hop music blasting from a boom box and the roar of jet skis from the water. 

Continue reading

An Austen Addicts Temporary Fix

Image of The Complete Jane Austen LogoFOOLISH

why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation! Frank Churchill, Emma, Chapter 30

An open letter to PBS

Dear Sir/Madame:

Sunday is here, and ahem, pardon my French … but where the *&#% is my The Complete Jane Austen PBS? Now that you’ve got me totally hooked on weekly installments of adaptations of my favorite authoress’ novels, you have cut me off like Fanny Dashwood, and expect me to go cold turkey. Intolerable!

I see that you are running your quarterly pledge drive in her Sunday time slot to remind me to support my local PBS station. Torture! Now I have just witnessed those perky pledge people say Jane Austen’s name twenty times in ten minutes during the pledge breaks between the re-airing of Persuasion. They repeat ever half hour. Pure torture. Wait, now they are talking about Pride and Prejudice! Pure unadulterated torture. (moans and rolls eyes in agony)

Eureka! There is a bit of hope on the horizon. You have dangled the possibility of a new bonnet or trip to Brighton my way by offering the next-best-thing to a Jane Austen adaptation; – – a program about the making of the Jane Austen adaptations entitled Celebrating The Complete Jane Austen! Hurrah!

I am all anticipation as the familiar opening musical fanfare rolls in with the voice over.

Now enter Jane Austen’s world, and go behind the scenes for a look at the Public television event of the season.

Host Lisa Daniels gives the introduction to the program teasing us with the prospect of learning the inside story of the making of The Complete Jane Austen with interviews of the executive producer Rebecca Eaton, screenwriter Andrew Davies, and Austen scholar Dr. Marcia Folsom. She continues with exclaiming that Jane Austen is the ‘it’ girl of the twenty-first century. Ok. You’ve got my attention.

Fifteen minutes into an hour program, you cut to a local pledge drive and then jump back and forth between the two like a tennis match for the rest of the hour without much new information revealed.

This is now The Complete Jane Austen Torture.

This will not be bourne. We are seriously displeased and if you can’t play nice, we are sending Lady Catherine over to restore peace and harmony.

Regards &C

Laurel Ann

Blogmistress, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice: Netherfield Ball

Image of Mrs. Bennet gossiping at the Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)NONSENSICAL

In vain did Elizabeth endeavour to check the rapidity of her mother’s words, or persuade her to describe her felicity in a less audible whisper; for, to her inexpressible vexation, she could perceive that the chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy, who sat opposite to them. Her mother only scolded her for being nonsensical.The Narrator on Mrs. Bennet Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 18

My favorite scenes in episode one of the PBS airing last Sunday of the adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (1995) were definitely those at the Netherfield Ball. They are also a significant plot accelerator in the novel. So much interaction transpires that delights, horrifies, and further reveals character insights. Here is a rundown on the evening’s events.

Image of Netherfield Park, Pride & Prejudice, (1995) 

The Bennet’s arrive in fine evening attire and are greeted by their hosts the Bingley’s. The occasion includes several red coats which delight Lydia and Kitty.

Image of Netherfield Ball dancing, Pride & Prejudice, (1995) 

We learn that Wickham has removed himself from the festivities because of his wish to avoid a certain gentleman (Mr. Darcy). Lizzy is obligued to dance with Mr. Collins and is mortified that he is wholly without any sense of his ridiculous manner.

Image of Elizabeth & Mr. Collins dancing at Netherfield, Pride & Prejudice, (1995) 

Mr. Darcy is seen intently tracking Lizzy’s movements about the ball from room to room. He is clearly intrigued by her frank personality, and not quite sure what to make of his attraction to her.

Image of Mr. Darcy at the Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)

 

As Lizzy discloses to Charlotte her anger in the absence of her favorite Mr. Wickham because of Mr. Darcy, he approaches them and catches her off guard. She regretfully accepts his invitation to dance.

Image of Lizzy & Charlotte dishing Darcy at the Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)

We then hear the elegant music and see the couples engaged in the dance. Lizzy and Darcy dance silently for a while. Annoyed that she must dance with him, Lizzy can not miss out on this opportunity not to engage Mr. Darcy in a “little bit of conversation” while they dance.

 Image of couples dancing at Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)

What transpires is one of the most significant dialogues of the film between them. She is peeved and unguarded, he is puzzled, polite and circumspect.

Image of Lizzy & Mr. Darcy sparing at Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)

Caroline Bingley attempts to warn Lizzy of Wickham’s low background and infamous manner, but Lizzy will not believe her assertations and challenges her story.

Image of Caroline Bingley, Pride & Prejudice, (1995) 

Lizzy and Jane are mortified by their families, “total want of propriety so frequently displayed”, and stand on the sidelines in discomfort of the exhibition.

 Image of Lizzy & Jane Bennet mortified at the Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)

Sister Mary attempts to delight the party in song, and Mrs. Bennet is glad to see her daughter display her, ahem, talent at the pianoforte. However, her screeching song inspires horses to neigh, and dogs to howl outside. This sends her two elder sisters and Mr. Bennet into despair.

Image of Mr. Bennet in despair at the Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995) 

Next, Mr. Collins speaks to Mr. Darcy before they have been formally introduced.  Mrs. Bennet’s continues bragging about the certainty of the nuptials of Jane and Mr. Bingley to the other guests before it is indeed certain. The finale humiliation is Lydia and Kitty’s unchecked exuberant antics throughout the ball with the officers. Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst look on in horror at the Bennet clan’s exploits in their home, smug in their earlier evaluation of the families foibles!

Image of Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, Netherfield Ball, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)

My feelings of embarrassment and sorrow after the conclusion of the ball are all in favor of the elder two Bennet daughters, Elizabeth and Jane. We see the scope of their dilemma. They are intelligent, sensible and accomplished young women, whose financial situation of lack of dowries un-empowers them, placing them at the mercy of the connections of their family to attract suitable husbands. Moreover, consider that the very people that they must depend upon to aid them in their pursuit of a match alternately hinder their possibilities by lack of refinement and improper conduct. One feels a cloud of doom descend.

  • You can find an excellent introduction, episode rundown, casting, behind the scenes and photo gallery at the BBC Pride and Prejudice web site.
  • Casting, plot and resources can be found at the Masterpiece Classics Pride and Prejudice site
  • Purchase the new DVD set of Pride and Prejudice and The Jane Austen Book Club together at A&E.com.

Image of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Pride & Prejudice, (1995)Be sure to mark your calendars and set your watches for the second episode of the Masterpiece Classic presentation of Pride and Prejudice(1995), on Sunday, February 17th at 9:00 pm on PBS. We can look forward to the introduction of the affability and condescension of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, further antics by that duffus Mr. Collins, and a surprising ardent revelation by one of Elizabeth’s suitors. Dont’ miss out on all the Regency fun!