A Closer Look at the Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 35-50

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie

From the desk of Virginia Claire

There is a lot to cover this week for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. One announcement before we get started; the series will be ending on March 28th with the 100th episode. (mass hysteria and sobbing ensues!). Sadness I know but the book does come to an end and so much the LBD.  On a happier note we are just reaching the halfway point of looking at the vlogs so there is still a more discussion to come. I also can’t wait to see which book the creative team of Hank and Bernie do next. I myself am voting for Emma, mainly because I want to see a modern Emma more than a modern Anne (I am huge fan of Persuasion, but Anne Elliot is just not a blogger the way Emma would be)

This week I watched episodes 35-50 and then Charlotte and Maria Lu’s spinoff from Collins and Collins. Lizzie starts off episode 35 by saying “and everything is as it should be.” This pleasant feeling doesn’t last long for Lizzie because Mr. Collins arrives and annoys her to no end. He offers her a job, which she refuses but which Charlotte then takes. Then Charlotte leaves for the job with Mr. Collin. Next Wickham comes and tells his story of woe at the hands of Darcy to Lizzie, which makes Lizzie hate Darcy even more. After Bing’s birthday party Bing, Darcy and Caroline leave for LA without telling anyone. Jane finds out about the move from Twitter. She is broken hearted and decides to move to LA for a job promotion and a change of scene. Wickham then takes a job with the Meryton Marines and goes off to flirt and party with other girls. Lizzie isn’t broken hearted over his departure but she does wonder, “why is everyone moving on but me?” Episode 50.  In Charlotte and Maria’s spinoff we see the reconciliation that will happen between the friends. Charlotte too misses Lizzie and her sister has her watch Lizzie’s videos to see how much Lizzie misses Charlotte. Maria’s videos are a cute spinoff that shows us a glimpse at Charlotte in a new light but I don’t think they are as funny as other spinoffs like Lydia’s and Gigis’; they seem more like a plot device then stand alone vlogs.

Now I want to look at some of my favorite moments and characters from these episodes.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Collins and Lizzie

Mr. Collin: Mr. Collins is by far my favorite character (other than Lizzie) in the novel and in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I find his so delightful obtuse yet verbose that he is irresistible to me in his ridiculousness. I interviewed Maxwell Glick who plays Mr. Collins and he was so thoughtful and wonderful that he sent me some wonderful answers to my questions. I am including a handful below.

How do you think you make Mr. Collins different or special?

Max-I wanted to bring something to Mr. Collins that took the perception of him as this rather repulsive character, and made him actually have more dimensions and real feelings.  I took the approach that he just “doesn’t get it” – not that he is a terrible person or intentionally says hurtful things.  He has poor social skills, but I don’t think his heart is in the wrong place. I wanted it to appear that everything he says is carefully scripted, albeit poorly, sometimes.  I also wanted to add a touch of humor to the guy.  After all, he is far from a boor. I wanted the audience to say “Oh I totally know someone like that.”

What do you think was the hardest aspect of Mr. Collins to adapt into modern times?

Max-Mr. Collins is a clergyman in the book, and that would be a tough storyline in modern times, so the way the writers made him a venture capitalist interested in online video, was just genius. 

I think the “first proposal” followed by the “your pitch needs work” episodes are brilliant in terms of Mr. Collins character. Do you have a favorite scene or episode?

Max-I have two favorite moments.  The Proposal where I keep bringing out an increasingly larger envelope is just hysterical to me. I love that.  Also I love my episode with Lydia.  This was one of the most fun times for me on set.  I got to bring out Collins’ incredibly uncomfortable emotions, as Lydia got closer to him.  That was just a blast. I wish I had some more episodes with her.

(hopefully I will get to post the entire interview at a later date because it is very interesting)

It was so wonderful talking to Max about Mr. Collins. He gave lots of insight into how he played Collins and how he thought about the character. Max is a hilarious guy. Check out his Flashback Friday Videos from his closet. These are adorable and entertaining videos where he sings top 10 songs from different years with no music. It is cute so check them out.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia and Collins

Lydia v Mr. Collins: Episode 37 is perhaps my favorite episode thus far. It combines two of my favorite characters Lydia and Mr. Collins. Lydia puts Collins in his place from the beginning and makes Mr. Collins increasing uncomfortable till he runs away leaving Lydia alone when she says “and that my nerdy older sister is how you properly get rid of Mr. Collins. BOOM!” Lydia wins and I love it.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Collins and Charlotte

Your Pitch Needs Work”: Episode 41 is pretty brilliant because we see Charlotte’s guidance of Collins and how she influences him. Charlotte is very subtle in her manipulation of Collins. She isn’t portrayed in a negative light but we do see that she is in control of the situation and “fishing for an offer” from him. I am not condemning Charlotte in the least because she knows exactly what she is getting into with Collins, and I think it is a very conscious decision on her part.

Charlotte and Lizzie: Charlotte is a voice of reason for both Lizzie and Collins, so when Charlotte chooses to take the job with Mr. Collins, Lizzie feels completely crushed. The girls get in a huge fight over Charlotte’s decision in episode 42, which shows a more selfish side. of Lizzie. It is only through Maria showing Charlotte episode 43 where Lizzie laments not talking to her bestie that Charlotte calls Lizzie and invites her to come, stay and see Collins and Collins.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Wickham and Lizzie

George’s Intro: In episode 45 we meet George Wickham! I am going to skip the Darcy v. Wickham story because it just isn’t as funny as George himself. George is looking at Lizzie bookshelf when he says “I have to make sure you don’t have any red flags like books on serial killers or anything shady or with shades.” Later in the episode Lydia runs in with a solo cup “accidentally” spilling water all over him, then casually suggests that he just takes his first off. I don’t know if this is a funny nod to the 1995 “wet t-shirt scene” but it is funny none the less. Lizzie and Lydia both get a little distracted by Wickham’s excellent body and abs.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia, Wickham and Lizzie

Snickerdoodles: On a more serious note episode 48 is very sad because we see Jane break down from her normal happy self to distraught and upset Jane who is just looking for answers from Bing. The viewers are in the same boat as Lizzie when she says “and if I could find Bing Lee and smash him over the head with a frying pan to knock some sense into him then I would.” At this point it is very unclear why Bing broke up with Jane and will not talk to her anymore, but we will find out more in later episodes.

Next week we will watch episodes 51-66. Enjoy!

Favorite quote of the week:What do you think it is? Maybe George has incriminating photos of Darcy. Maybe George has videos of Darcy in a boy band” Episode 44 – Lizzie trying to figure out the dark history between Darcy and George Wickham.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzie and Jane

Further Reading:

Images courtesy of © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington, Austenprose

Top Search Engine Questions Sent to Austenprose

David Bramber as the odious Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

One of the great things about being the admin to a blog is that you get to read all of the interesting (and sometimes hilarious) questions that people ask search engines – and then land on your blog.

If you are wondering what this means, when key words or phrases match material on your blog, it shows up in the search engine results and people come to visit to discover the answer. Now, sometimes it sends them to us just based on key words and not complete answers, so they may be disappointed, or intrigued to find something altogether unexpected. Here are a few humdingers that either made us laugh out loud or yell an answer into cyberspace.

Q: Is Emma Woodhouse a likeable character?

A: Wow. That is a loaded question! Many say NO. That she is a troublesome, bossy, snob and not likeable at ALL. But that is Austen’s point. Before publication she admitted to creating “a heroine whom no one but myself will like.” Of course that is her self-effacing joke. Emma Woodhouse certainly is annoying and self-serving throughout 90% of the novel, but it is revealed in a comical and moralistic manner that many (including ourselves) consider entertaining and scholars deem a masterpiece. So, no. Emma is not likeable, but that’s why we like her.

Q: What does Dowager Duchess mean?

A: Dowager appears to be in the same category of mysterious archaic English words like entail. It is a title given the widow of a Duke in British aristocracy. The most famous Dowager on the radar of Downton Abbey fans is no doubt Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

Q: Is fruitcake the same as Christmas pudding? Continue reading

I met Mary Bennet today. I kid you not!

Lucy Briers as Mary Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Mr. Bennet’s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.  

By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library) he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with —  

“Do you know, mama, that my uncle Philips talks of turning away Richard; and if he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town.”  

Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside his book, and said — 

“I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin.” The Narrator, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 14 

If anyone doesn’t know, I am a bookseller at Barnes and Noble, and we get asked the most amazing questions. There is never a dull moment. One of my managers wants to write a book about it. I can add a few stories of my own. Here’s one for Janeites! 

I met Mary Bennet today! 

My coworkers all know I am a Jane Austen enthusiast. I wear it as a badge of honor. Some of them track me down when customers have Jane Austen questions. So today amongst the bustle of a Saturday, I hear an overhead page for me and head over to the information desk. There, I was introduced to a serious looking young woman with glasses who needed help finding Fordyces Sermons. I kid you not! She had read about them in Pride and Prejudice and wanted to read them herself! 

As I stifled a giggle and looked at her with a straight face, I told her what little I knew of them, and that I was doubtful that they were still in print, but I would do my best to search them out in my database (BookMaster, which is like a book geeks playground of every book being published in the US). No luck. She looked at me in total dejection! To buoy her spirits, I told her that she may have more luck at her local library since they were written over 200 years ago, and I would do my best to discover more online (thank goodness for the Internet) and if successful, I would  write a post about them on my blog. So here goes. 

Sermons to Young Woman (1760), or Fordyce’s Sermons as they were informally called, are a two-volume compendium of sermons written and compiled by Dr. James Fordyce (1720-1796) a Scottish clergyman, and were quite popular among clergy and personal libraries in the late 18th-century. The sermons, “which seem to encourage female subjugation to male preferences and emphasize a feminine mannerliness of speech, action, and appearance over substantive development of ideas, seem hopelessly outdated and chauvinistic.” The reference seems even more absurd fifty years later when Jane Austen chose to have her character the Reverend Mr. Collins read them to his young cousins instead of a more entertaining novel.  In the eyes of his cousins and the reader, his selection confirms him as a total buffoon, his lopsided judgment and outmoded opinions are totally disagreeable to anyone with an ounce of sensitivity. It is interesting to note that Dr. Fordyce did not marry until eleven years after its publication. It obviously took him many years to find a woman to meet his standards, or one that would overlook his opinions. You can actually read volume one and two online in an 1809 edition through Google Books. The sermons expound on womanly virtue, meekness and servitude. Here is an excerpt from the preface for your amusement. It was as far as I dare venture, hearing Mr. Collins in every sentence! 

The preacher is willing to hope, that women of most conditions, and at all ages, may meet with some useful counsels, or some salutary hint, should curiosity incite them to look into these discourses. Should any of those young persons in genteel life, to whom they are chiefly addressed, deem the reprehensions they contain too severe, or too indiscriminate ; he can only say, that as all are dictated by friendship no less than by conviction, so he wishes it to be understood, that many were occasioned by a particular observation of those characters and manners which are esteemed fashionable amongst the young and the gay of this metropolis. 

In the country (a denomination which, as matters are commonly conducted, he can by no means allow to the neighbourhood of London) the contagion of vice and folly, it may be presumed, is not so epidemical. In short, he is persuaded, that women of worth and sense are to be found every where, but most frequently in the calm of retreat, and amidst the coolness of recollection. pp iv 

David Bramber as Mr. Collins, Pride and Prejudice (1995)There can be nothing so advantageous as instruction. Yes, thank you very much Mr. Collins!

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.