“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen was right. Saying I do to another person is a risk. But for Georgiana Cavendish, it was her duty to marry well.
On June 7, 1774, Georgiana celebrated her 17th birthday. That day was also her wedding day. Her new husband was William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire.
The 2008 movie, The Duchess, chronicles the turbulent and controversial life of it’s title character.
Georgiana (Keira Knightley) is bright, affectionate and a teenager. On her 17th birthday, she marries the much older Duke (Ralph Fiennes). Georgiana is expected to provide her husband with a son and heir. In her own time, Georgiana was the star of the era. She was unabashedly supportive of several politicians and threw extravagant parties.
But behind the scenes, all that glitters is not gold. Her husband is cold to her. He prefers to spend his time with his mistresses. When Georgiana invites Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell) into her home for a short stay, she does not know that Bess will become the third person in her marriage. After meeting Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), Georgiana falls madly in love with him. She soon discovers that she is pregnant by him. Her husband offers her an ultimatum. If she stays with Charles, she will loose her children. Forcing to make a heartbreaking decision, Georgiana returns to her husband and gives her youngest daughter to her Charles’s family to raise.
I like this movie. I especially like this cast. Knightley was perfectly cast as the lead character. I felt for Georgiana. Despite her wealth and stature, she has no power over her own life. She must do as she is told to do. Watching her story makes me grateful for the opportunities that I have.
I recommend this movie.