Daily Archives: June 8, 2017

Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Lady Catherine de Bourgh

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

On either end of the 1% spectrum, there are two kinds of people. On one end is the Bill Gates type, the person who uses his or her name and fortune to help those less fortunate. On the other end is the person who expects the rest of us to kiss their behind and fawn all over them just because they are famous, powerful and wealthy.

Jane Austen’s most notable member of the 1% community is Lady Catherine de Bourgh, from Pride and Prejudice. The elder sister of Mr. Darcy’s late mother, Lady Catherine is everything that the 99% expect of not just the upper classes, but the aristocratic set.  Lady Catherine is a first class snob who talks over everyone, thinks she is always right and has kept her only child, Anne, on a very short leash.  Under the assumption that her nephew and her daughter have been betrothed since childhood (despite any lack of evidence), Lady Catherine is far from pleased that Mr. Darcy may have an interest in Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman from a middle class family whose dowry is small and whose family home is entailed away to Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is not just Elizabeth’s cousin (and her father’s heir), but also  Lady’s Catherine’s rector.

Every good story needs a villain, an antagonist to the main character. While Lady Catherine is not a villain in the traditional sense, her opposition to Elizabeth makes her the villain in Pride and Prejudice.

To sum it up: Sometimes stereotypes are good, but only in small doses. While Lady Catherine is very much a stereotype, she is also the perfect antagonist to Elizabeth, the lead female character. If Austen was using Elizabeth as an example of how to act and how to grow from your mistakes, Lady Catherine is very much the opposite. She remains staunch in her beliefs, refusing to change or believe that her nephew would be happy married to Elizabeth. In creating Lady Catherine, the polar opposite to Elizabeth, Austen created a villain who is unforgettable. Characters must stand out to engage a reader or an audience member. If I take one lesson away from reading Pride and Prejudice, that is the lesson. Without memorable characters, the story falls flat and the reader/audience will walk away.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Writing

Flashback Friday-Bringing Up Baby (1938)

There are romantic comedies and then there are romantic comedies. Some are so horribly predictable and forgettable that it makes bad, predictable action films look good. Then there are the classics, that after generations, still make audiences laugh and are still as highly regarded as they were when they first hit theaters.

One of these classics is Bringing Up Baby (1938).

Good natured Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is a paleontologist and a professor who has spent the last four years putting together a Brontosaurus skeleton. With the skeleton completed, he needs only the intercostal clavicle bone and one million dollars to complete the project. Wealthy and widowed Mrs. Random (May Robson) can provide the money, but first David has to go through Mrs. Robson’s lawyer, Alexander Peabody (George Irving). In addition to getting past Mr. Peabody, David also has to deal with Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn), Mrs. Random’s ditzy niece who always seems to make trouble for David and make him look bad. Susan has recently adopted a leopard, named Baby, who seems to get David in as much hot water as his human mother.

Can David finish the project or will Susan (and his slowly to burn affection for her) for her stop him from seeing the skeleton in its complete form?

This movie is one of the essential romantic comedies. It is funny, it is charming and it has two of the best actors of the era playing the leading characters. Cary Grant was one of those actors whose good looks belied a comedic sense that is often repeated today, but never duplicated. Katherine Hepburn was not just a smart and independent woman off camera, but on camera as well. There are very few performers, especially female performers, who have the ability to smartly play down their intelligence to play up the comedy. Katherine Hepburn was one of those performers.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday