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 Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of October 6th

Actress Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility 1995) has reached national treasure status according to  interviewer Karen Price of the Western Mail who spoke with her before the opening of Brideshead Revisited in the UK this week. She is always a surprising and amusing in life, and on the screen. I saw this version when it opened in the US in July and enjoyed her performance, though the adaptation by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995, Emma, Northanger Abbey 2007, and Sense and Sensibility 2008) had to be so condensed for the two hour movie that it seemed like an entirely different story than the BBC miniseries of the 1980’s or the Evelyn Waugh novel. Her co-stars Hayley Atwell (Mansfield Park 2007) and Joseph Beatie (Mansfield Park 2007) were also excellent, and the movie is well worth renting the DVD of just for the locations and fabulous costumes.

Even though Matthew Macfayden went all Byronic on us as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, he can also do comedy and drama with equal aplomb. Pride and Prejudice (2005) Blog was updates on all his latest projects including Frost/Nixon and Incendiary.

Have lunch with Andrew Davies (well almost) and interviewer John Lloyd who thinks that Davies has shaped the literary imagination of millions (that may be true, but it is a daunting thought for this writer). His latest project airing this month on the BBC is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit staring a formidable cast of classic actors including Austen connects with Matthew Macfayden (Pride and Prejudice 2005), Robert Hardy (Northanger Abbey 1986), and Judy Parfitt (Pride and Prejudice 1979). Mabe it will make it acrosss the pond to PBS next season? Hope so.

Did Jane Austen like children? Old Fogey blog takes a shot at his interpretation of Jane Austen’s view of children in her books and letters with his post on More Cake than is Good for Them. I always enjoy reading his insights on Austen, even though I may not always agree with him!

Classic Reader a website of e-texts of many classic novels offers a nice brief biography of Jane Austen and includes the six major novels and novella Lady Susan for reading online. Also included are is an extensive library of classic titles such as The Castle of Orantano by Horace Warpole, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, poetry and nonfiction works, so check it out!

Austen and Austen-esque book reviews for the week: Just Jane, Persuasion, A Cure for All Diseases, Mansfield Park, Jane and the Man of the Cloth, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Pride and Prejudice, Bride and Prejudice Movie, The Jane Austen Handbook, Persuasion, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Darcys and the Bingleys, Me and Mr. Darcy, and The Independence of Mary Bennet.

Australian author Colleen McCoullough’s new Austen-esque book The Independence of Mary Bennet is getting a bit of press in Australia since its release there on October 1st. The interviews of the author are bristly as she is quite outspoken, ahem. The reaction by Austen enthusiasts is not surprising, since we do defend our Jane, and are unguarded and outspoken about others those who use her name or characters to make money. Here are few reactions from Austenblog and Barbwired.

Austen-esque author Sharon Lathan asks, Another ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sequel…Really? on the Casablanca Authors blog, then proceeds to explain her reasons which I can not argue with but some may. Jill Pitkeathley of newly released Cassandra and Jane chats with A Circle of Books,  Jane Odiwe of Lydia Bennet’s Story is interviewed by Ms. Place (Vic) of Jane Austen’s World,

The  beautiful color 2009 A Year with Jane Austen wall calendars produced by JASNA Wisconsin are available and a very worthy addition including great daily events through the calendar year from the novels and significant events in Jane Austen’s life. Be informed every day of what happened in Jane Austen’s world. What Janeite could need more, well maybe a book and a movie or two.

The AGM of JASNA concluded in Chicago and now we get to read about all of the wonderful experiences had by many there. Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont blog does Day 1, shops (bless her), and tells us all about the great books she found, and now on to Day 2. Mags of AustenBlog gives us a daily breakdown of, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Now that is dedication!

Emma the musical officially opens tonight in St. Louis, Missouri at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Penned, scored and lyrics by Paul Gordon, the Toni nominated composer of Jane Eyre, the reviews have been mixed, so we shall see how Miss Woodhouse charms the audience.

The Cleveland Heights Janeites had an Austen celebration last week, and it was all things Jane all around. Read this charming article by reporter Laura Johnston of the The Plain Dealer, who must be a Janeite herself to be so knowledgeable (or good at her research).

Find out why Elizabeth Bennet never got fat! Enuf said!!! and all about miniature portraitist George Englheart who has more Austen connections than Jane Austen’s boy toy Tom Lefroy.

Reporter Judith Egerton gushes about the new Jon Jory production of Pride and Prejudice on stage in Lousiville, Kentucky through November 2nd. I wonder if her love of Jane Austen is genetic? Could she be a descendant of Thomas Egerton who first published Pride and Prejudice in 1813?  ;)

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey continues here at Austenprose until October 31st. The group read is progressing and we are up to chapter 10 as heronine in the making Catherine Morland was just danced with Mr. Tilney (lucky girl). It’s not too late to join in the group read and all the guest bloggers and giveaways. You can read the progress to date at my co-blog, Jane Austen Today. Thanks to the many bloggers and readers who went Gothic with us and are joining in; Kimberly’s Cup, Blue Archipelago, Tea, Toast and a Book, This is so Silly, KimPossible, and Kindred Spirits. It has been great fun to read your opinions. Keep them comming!

Until next week, happy Jane sighting,

Laurel Ann

The Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Around the blogosphere for the week of September 7th

The great Darcy debate continues! Is Colin Firth or Matthew Macfayden more accurate to Austen’s vision in their film portrayal of Mr. Darcy from the novel Pride and Prejudice? Read about romance author Michele Ann Young’s view on the Casablanca Authors Blog.

Speaking of Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth celebrated his 48th birthday on September 10th, and talks to reporter Benjamin Secher of the Telegram about his continuing romantic roles in films. Secher surmises that “surely the time is approaching for the secretary of the international heart-throb club to inform him that his membership has expired, freeing him from frivolous romantic roles for good“. Obviously not so, as offers keep pouring in eighteen years after he thought he would be too old to play them! Hmm. One suspects that Firth is a bit modest, wouldn’t you say?

Oxford Professor and Austen Scholar Kathryn Sutherland weighs in on her impressions of the first episode of Lost in Austen, the new ITV Pride and Prejudice inspired time travel twister.  Not quite sure if she has an opinion yet. That’s a first for an academic.

Do you remember the first time you read Pride and Prejudice? I do. So when I happened upon this post of a novice reader’s first pages into the book, it made me smile. Austenprose recommends Adopt-an-Austen-Newbie this week, so please head on over and offer a word of encouragement or share your first time reading stories. How I envy them the adventure that is ahead.

Is Pride and Prejudice (1995) screenwriter Andrew Davies a channel of Dickens and Austen for the contemporary world? English professor Laura Carroll of La Trobe University reports in from his recent session at the Melbourne Writers Festival where screenwriter Jane Sardi interviewed him last week. Is this former English professor on an educational mission on behalf of classic literature?

LearnOutLoud.com is offering a free download or streaming audio of a literary summary of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudiceas their free Audiobook of September Podcast. This is part of their Literary Summaries series that outlines classic novels in a abridged format.

Is Jane Austen a sizeist? Sparsely Kate has a few words of contention about a passage in Persusaion that may imply how Austen interpreted people of a “comfortable substantial size” were more suited to be jolly. She may have a good point. Sparsely Kate, that is!

Episode two of Lost in Austen, the new ITV television mini-series aired in the UK this week and is garnering quite a bit of discussion at AustenBlog. Episode one was fun and frolicky, with more than a few improbable surprises. Catch my review of Episode two on Monday, September 15th.

Austen-esque book reviews for the week, Pemberley Shades one & two, Old Friends and New Fancies, The Pemberley Chronicles, and Essential Austen, keep us reading and reading.

Jane Odiwe author of the soon to be released Lydia Bennet’s Story is also a talented artist. Check out her recent portrait of Jane Austen at her blog, Jane Austen Sequels.

J. K. Rowling & Warner Bros, Entertainment won their lawsuit against Michigan-based publisher RDR Books on Monday, blocking the publication of The Harry Potter Lexiconby Steven VanderArk. This is great news for authors everywhere, and I commend Rowling (one of the most financially successful authors in print) for fighting for herself, and the little guys out there. What does this have to do with Jane Austen you ask? Hmm, she is everywhere you know – influencing honor, justice and the Austen-way across the globe – but actually, we have Austen-esque author Diana Birchall to thank for being such an excellent star witness on behalf of Rowling and Warner Bros where she is employed as a story analyst. She wrote about her involvement in the case here last March, so be grateful Janeites that Austen’s is everywhere – cuz she makes all the difference to many, even after 200 years.

Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

*Watercolour engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, Jealousy, The Rival (1787)

Craving More of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility? Read On!

“I shall divide every moment between music and reading. I have formed my plan, and am determined to enter on a course of serious study. Our own library is too well known to me, to be resorted to for anything beyond mere amusement. But there are many works well worth reading, at the Park; and there are others of more modern production which I know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon. By reading only six hours aday, I shall gain in the course of a twelvemonth a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 46 

I hope that you enjoyed the Masterpiece Classic presentation of Sense and Sensibility on PBS last Sunday. I did, and it was definitely the highlight of The Complete Jane Austen series for me. It is well worth multiple viewing to revisit special moments like the first family dinner at Norland Park, Anne Steele’s blundering admission that Lucy and Edward are secretly engaged, or the seaside walk of Elinor and Marianne after their return to Barton cottage from London. 

Since this production will always be compared to the 1995 Ang Lee/Emma Thompson adaptation of the same name, I heartily encourage you to view it also. You just might recognize more than a few similarities in the script, camera angles and costumes! I did, so watch out for Margaret’s character expansion, Fanny Dashwood’s hair, clothing and inflections, and the Delaford picnic scene. Emma Thompson knows the value of Austen’s talent for humor, and her attention to the minor characters such as Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Jennings, the Palmers, and Lucy Steele really make the difference for me in the 1995 production. 

If you are craving more Sense and Sensibility, and are compelled to continue on your Austen quest, you will enjoy perusing these books to expand your knowledge and appreciation of Jane Austen’s story and characters.  

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries, Emma Thompson, Newmarket Press (2007) revised edition. Synopsis from the publisher. Bringing Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility to the screen was a labor of love for writer/actress Emma Thompson. Featuring the complete award-winning script, Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries also showcases Thompson’s unreserved, often hilarious diaries that capture the unique experience of making this landmark film. In addition, the book includes an introduction by producer Lindsay Doran; over fifty photos; cast and crew credits; and Thompson’s sparkling Austen-like acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards ceremony. Thompson’s rare and personal perspective makes Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries an irresistible book for students of film and Austen devotees, as well as for everyone who loved this extraordinary movie. ISBN: 9781557047823. Review on The Republic of Pemberley.

Reason and Romance, by Debra White Smith, Harvest House Publishers (2004). Second book in the Austen series. Synopsis from the publisher. Echoing the themes in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Debra White Smith crafts a delightful, contemporary story about passion and love. When Ted arrives, Elaina assumes he can’t be interested in her. But Ted surprises her. Attracted by his charming personality, Elaina dreams about love. But then comes shocking news. Has she made a mistake? The handsome Willis hints at engagement…and Elaina’s sister, Anna, is delighted. But when he is called away, he doesn’t leave a forwarding address. Brokenhearted, Anna falls into depression. Will she love again? Readers will be enraptured by this story about the joys and follies of infatuation and love. ISBN: 9780736908771. Interview with the author about her Austen series.   

Suspense and Sensibility, Or First Impressions Revisited, by Carrie Berbris, Tom Doughtery, Associates, LLC (2005). Second book in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery series. Synopsis from the publisher. In the spring of 1813, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy agree to sponsor Elizabeth’s sister Kitty for a season in London along with Darcy’s 17-year-old sister, Georgiana. In the course of their social rounds, Kitty meets Harry Dashwood – a younger cousin of the Sense and Sensibility Dashwood’s – and the courtship begins. Mr. Darcy makes inquiries into Harry’s character, fortune and expectations, but no sooner does he receive favorable answers than the suitor begins to behave most strangely. Harry gives a friend the “cut direct” outside Boodle’s Club, and there are rumors of gambling and worse excesses. The author smoothly combines characters from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility while remaining true to Austen’s originals. ISBN: 9780765350923. Review on Curl up with a good book. 

The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love, by Rosie Rushton, Hyperion Books, (2005). Synopsis from the publisher. The Walker sisters have always lived a privileged life in their beloved Holly House in Sussex. Even though their father, Max Walker, has left the family to live with his new macrobiotic-food-obsessed trophy wife, Pandora, he has always doted on his girls. But then one day, reality crashes down around them when Max has a heart attack and passes away, uncovering the truth that he was knee deep in debt. The Walkers discover that their home is actually in Pandora’s name and she decides she wants it back. So the family has to uproot their lives and move to the seaside town of Norfolk in an old cottage. What happens then? ISBN: 9780786851362. Review on A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy. 

The neverending sequel search continues. Here are more titles, but these are sadly out of print. Check out your local library, or buy them gently used from my favorite out of print and used book source online, Advanced Book Exchange; Eliza’s Daughter, by Joan Aiken, (1994), The Third Sister: A Continuation of Sense and Sensibility, by Julia Barrett, (1998), Margaret Dashwood or Interference, by Mrs. Francis Brown (Edith Charlotte Brown) (1929), Brightsea by Jane Gillespie (1997), and Elinor and Marianne: A Sequel to Sense and Sensibility, by Emma Tennant (1996).

 Happy reading to all!

Sense and Sensibility 2008: Cast Preview

Image of the Dashwood ladies, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)

“I am afraid,” replied Elinor, “that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.” 

“On the contrary, nothing can be a stronger proof of it, Elinor; for if there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong, and with such a conviction I could have had no pleasure.” Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 13

Some say that Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility is her darkest, dealing with the struggle of the principles of common sense against free sensibility, the English inheritance laws of stifling primogeniture and it’s crushing affect on the female line, and the ever-present question of marrying for love, or money?

All of these critical issues are addressed in the new BBC adaptation of Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility which will be presented on Masterpiece Classic on Sunday, March 30th and April 6th at 9:00 pm on PBS. You can read the plot synopsis here.

Adapted by Andrew Davies, of Pride and Prejudice fame, it aired in the UK in January to mixed reviews that were mostly favorable. Never one to miss an opportunity to stir the pot, Davies continues on his theory that Jane Austen is all about sex by adding some provocative scenes and enhancements to the story to suit his purpose; in order to make the story accessible and interesting to the modern audience by sexing up relationships and showing what Jane Austen implied, but did not write!

Never one to shun a good story, I have mixed feelings about this approach that I will discuss further in my review of episode one on Monday. In the meantime, I hope that you find this cast preview helpful. Sense and Sensibility has a very large list of characters in the novel, each of which adds to the progress of the plot, and reminds us of Jane Austen’s talent as a keen observer of human nature, foibles and all.

Cast Preview

Image of Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Elinor Dashwood (Hattie Morahan). Heroine age 19. Unmarried, eldest daughter of the late Henry Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and Mrs. Dashwood, recently of Barton Cottage, Devonshire. Dowry of 1000 pounds. Sensible, responsible and reserved. Some-what saintly in her abilities to place the welfare of her friends and family above her own concerns. Elinor’s strong good ‘sense’ and her stoic composure can be a comfort to her family, but stifles her emotions and can be interpreted as coldness by others.

Image of Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Marianne Dashwood (Charity Wakefield). Heroine age 16. Unmarried, second daughter of the late Henry Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and Mrs. Dashwood, recently of Barton Cottage, Devonshire. Dowry of 1000 pounds. Romantic, spontaneous and unguarded, she frequently thinks with her heart over her head, and often lacks proper propriety. Quick to judge, and often intolerant of different temperaments than her own, her ‘sensibility’ causes concern to her sister Elinor, and places her outside of societies dictum.

Image of Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Dashwood (Janet McTeer). Widow, age 40. Second wife of Henry Dashwood (recently deceased) of Norland Park, Sussex. Now of Barton Cottage, Devonshire owned by her cousin Sir John Middleton. Mother of Elinor, Marianne and Margaret. Step-mother to John Dashwood. Unprepared for widowhood and the responsibities of their new diminished financial situation. She and her daughter Marianne share an emotional and impulsive temperament, often making decisions based on feelings rather than reason.

Image of Lucy Boynton as Margaret Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Margaret Dashwood (Lucy Boynton). Child, age 13. Third daughter of the late Henry Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and Mrs. Dashwood, recently of Barton Cottage, Devonshire. Dowry of 1000 pounds. Good-humored and well-disposed. Romantically influenced by her older sister Marianne, she is inexperienced and adventurous. Her character is expanded in the movie and serves as the inquisitor, often asking critical questions that her family needs to know, but because of propriety, can not ask.

Image of Dan Stevens as Edwards Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens). Hero. Bachelor, age 23 of Oxford. Son of Mrs. Ferrars (father deceased), brother of Fanny and Robert. Heir to the Ferrars fortune and his mother’s hope to achieve public status and distinction in politics. Educated, amiable and highly eligible, he is attentive to Elinor but guarded, distant and troubled at times. Secretly engage to Lucy Steele for four years hence. Honorable and principled, he is willing to forgo his fortune and future happiness to keep his word instead of being with the woman he loves.

Image of Linda Bassett as Mrs. Jennings, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Jennings (Linda Bassett). Widow of Berkeley-street in London. Mother to Lady Middleton of Barton Park, Devonshire and Charlotte Palmer of Cleveland, Somersetshire. Talkative, overactive matchmaker who is often an embarrassment to the Dashwood’s. Wealthy empty-nester, bored, and determined to find matches for the Dashwood sisters. Gregarious, unrefined and excessively fond of gossip and a good tale, her well intentioned meddling into the Dashwood sister’s love lives is often unwelcome.

Image of Daisy Haggard as Anne Steele, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Anne (Nancy) Steele (Daisy Haggard). Unmarried, age nearing 30, of Exeter. Mr. Pratt of Plymouth’s niece. Sister to Lucy Steele. Cousin of Lady Middleton of Barton Park, Devonshire. “With a very plain and not a sensible face, nothing to admire.” All “vulgar freedom and folly“. On the quest for prodigious, handsome, smart, and agreeable beaus. Can’t keep a secret, and often says the wrong thing and admits as much. Aggressively in pursuit of beaxs.  Unguarded, revealing her sister Lucy’s secret.

Image of Anna Madeley as Lucy Steele, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Miss Lucy Steele (Anna Madeley). Unmarried, age 22, of Exeter. Mr. Pratt of Plymouth’s niece. Sister to Anne Steele. Cousin of Lady Middleton of Barton Park, Devonshire. Monstrous pretty and naturally clever, but unrefined and uneducated, whose nature “joined insincerity with ignorance.” Secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars for four years hence, using this to hold Elinor at bay. A sly, scheming gold-digger, she is a chameleon of many colors, changing her alliances to suit her pocketbook.

Image of David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon, (2008)Colonel Brandon (David Morrissey). Hero. Bachelor, age 35, of Delaford in Dorsetshire. 2000 pounds a year. Retired from the Army. Rheumatic and wears flannel waistcoats.  Over-the-hill, infirmed and past romance according to Marianne. “if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind.”. Sentimental. In his youth, he fell in love with a young woman who reminds him of Marianne, but his family did not approve of the match, and he was packed off into the army and sent aboard. Stoic, practical, and steadfast, his amiable qualities eventually outweigh his age.

Image of Claire Skinner as Fanny Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Fanny Dashwood (Claire Skinner). Wife of John Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex who is half brother of the Dashwood sisters. Daughter of Mrs. Ferrars, sister of Edward and Robert Ferrars. Mother of Little Henry (Harry) Dashwood. Arrogant, manipulative and selfish she knows the true value of a pence, and convinces her weak-minded husband to keep as much of the recently inherited Dashwood fortune as possible, slighting the second Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters, and forcing them into poverty.

Image of Dominic Cooper as John Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper). Bachelor, age 25 of Combe Magna, Somersetshire. Nephew of Mrs. Smith and heir of her estate Allenham Court, Devonshire. An outwardly dashing romantic Byron-esque hero, but in actuality, is an unprincipled deceitful rogue who trifles with young ladies affections by courting them for his own amusement. Later revealed to be a seducer, he is disinherited and is compelled to marry for money because he has squandered his own fortune. Ironically, he later regrets his marriage after his inheritance in restored. His callous quest for money over love is his downfall.

Image of Jean March as Mrs. Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Mrs. Ferrars (Jean Marsh). Widow of Park Street, London. Mother of Edward, Robert and Fanny. “a little, thin woman, upright to formality, in her figure, and serious, even to sourness, in her aspect.” The wealthy, manipulative and officious matriarch of the Ferrars family. Her son Edward is her favorite, and she and his sister Fanny “longed to see him distinguished” in public life. He prefers the opposite, a quiet private life. Money and social position are her precept. Her attempts to control her children’s lives by threats of disinheritance are feared, but shallow, as they all choose their own rout anyway.

Image of Morgan Overton as Little Henry Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, (2008)Little Henry (Harry) Dashwood (Morgan Overton). Child, age 4 (but looks about 6). Son of John and Fanny Dashwood of Norland Park, Sussex and heir to that estate. Likes to visit the wild beasts at Exeter Exchange. Spoiled and obnoxious. For Little Harry’s sake, the Dashwood sisters live like impoverished gypsies after his mother Fanny convinces his father John Dashwood to greatly reduce his financial support of his step-mother and half-sisters after the death of Henry Dashwood, his grandfather.

Enjoy the film!

Images courtesy of Masterpiece Classic PBS © 2008; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2008, Austenprose.com