Thursday, January 05, 2006

Reflections on Jane Austen (Books and Movies)

Sometime in November I decided to read the Jane Austen books that I have not yet read and to watch the corresponding movies (I think that I decided to do this with the release of the newest Pride and Prejudice movie… I do not really remember my initial motivation for pursuing this task). Needless to say, last week I finally finished watching the last of the Jane Austen movies (I promise, the books were all read prior to viewing the movies). So here are some thoughts on the books and the movies. By the way, I did not read or see Pride and Prejudice, Emma, or Sense and Sensibility because these are the books and movies that I had already seen/read, ok?

  1. The Northanger Abbey movie has a very interesting score to it… involving heavy use of a synthesizer. You may have been wondering how a Jane Austen novel-turned-into-a-movie would look/sound like with a synthesizer as part of the soundtrack. Well, wonder no more… because here you have it. Personally, this was, by far, the CHEESIEST of the Jane Austen movies that I have ever seen. Watch it for a good laugh. The book was very good.
  2. Someone help me out here. I have always wondered how these people stay warm (or at least appear to be warm). The men all look as if they are wearing a number of layers of clothing (probably some form of an undershirt, a regular shirt, a vest, a coat, and the funny thing around their neck). But the women… the poor women should be freezing to death in the dresses that they are wearing. Most are short sleeved, somewhat lower cut. Even reading the books, I feel cold for them. Maybe that’s why they are always dancing?!?!
  3. Persuasion, book and movie, were well done (no cheesy music).
  4. By far, I enjoyed Mansfield Park (book and movie) the best (and this was Miss Austen’s favorite work, if I recall). There are a few thinks that I would like to reflect on involving just this book…
  5. We’ve come along way since 1806 (the setting of the book). In one way, that’s a good thing. In another way, it’s a bad thing. BEWARE, SPOILER AHEAD (just in case you want to read the book or see the movie). So, I’m supposed to be happy in the end because Fanny (the main character) marries her first cousin, Edmund? Huh? Eeewww. He’s a great guy, ends up a clergyman, and they are very suited for each other but again, I ask, I’m supposed to be happy she’s married to her first cousin? In case you hadn’t figured it out, that’s the good thing we’ve accomplished since 1806… marrying your first cousin is, in my humble opinion, not a good thing.
  6. How we have obviously changed is in the reaction of everyone to Maria and Henry's adulterous affair. Maria, at the end of the book (and at the end of the movie) spends the rest of her days living in the country with Aunt Norris (that would be hell in and of itself). Her husband divorces her and she is never heard from again. And Henry, although he fairs better, lives with the knowledge that he has completely lost the only woman that he "supposedly" truly loved (not Maria, by the way). I am wondering if since he was not married, his sin is less than Maria's or if it is just one of those cases where because he is a man it is more readily forgiven. I am not certain of the answer to that question. But I am sure that there were probably people who would never associate with him again. Now, adultery and promiscuity are rampant and I don't know of many who are sent off to live the rest of their days in the country because of adultery. Things certainly have changed. There was (and this is in all of her books) so much importance placed on family name and not soiling that name. And, like in Pride and Prejudice, when the younger sister runs off with a man, all the other sisters' reputations are put at stake. No one would want to marry into a family like that! So, in Mansfield Park, the entire family separates itself from Maria in order to preserve their reputation, honor, and morals.

So, these are my thoughts on the last two months of reading and movie watching. I have to say that I have enjoyed this little "adventure". Now I'm off to put more books and movies on hold through the library:)


Susan said...

Christina, you know men always get away with more than women....sadly!
That society sounds a lot like the Greek society, trying to live up to the "NAME"
Glad you enjoyed these books. I'll have to watch Mansfield Park.

Mimi said...

I've never read any Jane Austen book. I just bought "Pride and Prejudice" though, it sounds great.