Tag Archives: Elinor Dashwood

Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

*-Delineates text from the original novel. Courtesy of Austen.com

This year, Janeites around the world will celebrate and debate the novel that is Mansfield Park, as they have done for 2 centuries.

Austen begins the novel with the introduction of the Ward sisters.

*-About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward’s match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible, Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a Lieutenant of Marines, without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly. 

The novel’s heroine, Fanny Price is the eldest daughter of the youngest Miss Ward. At the age of 10, she is taken from her family home to Mansfield Park, where she is raised. She is family, but not a daughter of the house and treated as such. Eight years later,  Henry and Mary Crawford walk into Mansfield Park and catch the eyes of Fanny’s cousins.

I won’t give the rest of the novel away if you haven’t read it.

Mansfield Park is her longest novel, the theme is not as clear cut as her other novels. It could be about slavery, it could be about following your own heart vs. society’s rules, it could be about appearances vs. reality. Fanny is not witty like Elizabeth Bennet, confident like Emma Woodhouse or sensible like Elinor Dashwood. She is meek, almost  a hypochondriac. She could be labelled by some as priggish. She is financially, the poorest of the Austen heroines and dependent on her aunt and uncle.

I wrote a while back about Fanny and how her good qualities are often overlooked. This year’s JASNA AGM is about Mansfield Park.  I expect that it will be a very interesting AGM.

Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

 

 

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My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

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Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

A Dolls House- A Timeless Masterpeice

It is a truth universally acknowledged that certain stories are meant to live forever, re-visited and introduced again and again to audiences.

Such is Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece, A Doll’s House, presently at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music until March 23rd.

Nora and Torvald Helmer (Hattie Morahan and Dominic Rowan, Elinor Dashwood in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility and Mr. Elton in the 1996 Kate Beckinsale Emma, for my fellow Janeites) have been married for nine years.  The play opens just before Christmas, Torvald is waiting for a promotion to bank manager, which will mean a raise. His wife, Nora, appears to be flighty and somewhat dimwitted.

The arrival of Nora’s childhood friend, Kristine Linde (Caroline Martin) reveals that Nora is much more than she appears.  Early into her marriage, Torvald became sick.  Following doctors orders, they traveled to Italy where the warm weather was recommended to improve Torvald’s health. Unbeknownst to her husband, Nora took out a loan which she is secretly paying off and has not told him. One of her husband’s employees, Nils Krogstad (Nick Fletcher) knows that he will be out for a job very soon and tries to use the unpaid loan to get his job back.

This play is amazing. Morahan is perfect for Nora and Rowan is equally as perfect as Torvald.  The tension is there from the moment that it starts. The audience knows Nora’s secret and we all know that it will only be a matter of time before Torvald finds out. The slamming of the door at the final moments of play reverberated throughout the theater.

I’ve heard of this play, but I’ve never seen it.  I hope to see it next time it comes my way.

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Filed under Broadway Play Review, Feminism, Reviews

A Re-Imagined Classic- Not Really

Anytime a modern writer attempts to re-write a classic, they are walking a fine line. It could be interesting and open up a new audience to the classic, or it could be a writer’s easy way to write their next work without actually doing much of the work.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is an example of the first. Joanne Trollope’s modern reboot of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense and Sensibility, using the same title, is an example of the second.

Sense and Sensibility, for the uninitiated, is Jane Austen’s first published novel. The protagonists, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are sisters. Elinor is practical and realistic, Marianne is romantic and dream filled. After the death of their father, their elder brother inherits the family home and they are forced, with their mother and youngest sister to find another place to call home.

Ms. Trollope does an admirable job of translating the novel from regency era to the modern era.  However, it doesn’t take much effort to make the necessary changes to move the novel from the 19th century to the 21st century. The only advantage of this novel, is introducing readers to Austen who otherwise might have not read her.

I picked this book up as a lark at the library.   Would I recommend it?  Yes and No.  If the reader is an Austen virgin, then yes, especially if the reader might not understand the original novel.  But to a longtime Janeite who had read original novel many times over and has seen several screen adaptations, I would say no.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Reviews, Sense and Sensibility

Regret

*- I do not own any of these characters. Please review

 Regret

 She was not hard to locate. She was smiling and laughing, her fiancé never far from her.

 John Willoughby was not a man to believe in regrets, the past was what it was, what is done cannot be undone.

 But he did have one regret, Marianne Dashwood. He did love her and if he could have gone back, he would be honest with her. Perhaps he might be the one standing next to her; it would be his engagement ring on her hand. But she was to marry Christopher Brandon within a month.

 Handing the glass to the waiter, Marianne kissed her fiancé on the cheek.

 “Do you want some company?” Chris asked.

 “No, I just need a moment by myself, it’s just a little warm in here, I will be back in a few minutes”.

 She was surprised to find outside the one person she thought she would never see again.

 “What are you doing here?”.

 “I uh… you look beautiful” was the only words that John could utter.

 “Where is your wife?” Marianne asked, John could feel the sting of her words. John had married Jessie because she was everything he was told he should have in a wife. And yet, she was everything he didn’t want in a wife.  She was cold, only wanting him for his name and money. Now he was stuck, his aunt threatening to cut him off if he left Jessie.

 “She went away with her girlfriends for the weekend”.

 “I don’t think you should be here, John…” she was stopped by her fiancé leaving the party to join her, who upon seeing John possessively placed his hand on Marianne’s shoulder.

 “Is he bothering you?” Chris asked.

 “No darling, he wasn’t bothering me, he was just leaving, weren’t you, John?” Marianne asked.

 “I do have to go. Congratulations to you both”.

 As he drove away, Chris asked “Do you still love him? If you do, I will let you go, free and clear”.

 “I thought I loved him once, but I don’t anymore. Please don’t think of him, I don’t. I only want to marry you”.

 She kissed him gently, as his arms wrapped around her, but they were interrupted by Elinor.

 “Is something going on out here? We were beginning to think you two had run off to Vegas”.

 “We’re fine” Chris replied as he followed his future wife and sister in law inside, not knowing that John was still close by watching them.

 John Willoughby was not a man who believed in regrets, but he was not a man who believed in love until he watched the one he loved, marry another. He was the cause of that.

 It was his one regret.

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Filed under Fanfiction, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility