Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Locations in Pride and Prejudice

Here is the first of my many pieces of classwork which I wrote last year, but I felt I might as well post it as not :) I have editing it a bit, and hope it is entertaining, or at least interesting!

Locations in Pride and Prejudice

There are several locations in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which play an important part in the story.  Two of the most significant places in my opinion are Rosings Park (Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s great estate), and Pemberley (need I say who’s home this is?)  Both these places are important to the structure of the novel, as they are introduced at pivotal moments in the plot, while the way the places are portrayed in the text helps the reader discover more about the characters of their owners, and both locations play an extremely necessary part in the development of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship.

Rosings Park is the stately home belonging to Mr. Collins’ ‘highly esteemed’ patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and it is Mr. Collins who creates the reader’s initial impression of the property. It is easy to see that he is quite in awe of the place and its owner, and his observations about the “enumeration of the windows” and the expensive “chimney-piece” create a clear image but are also funny and typical of Collins’ character! ;)  Austen uses the word “grandeur” and Mr. Collins worries for the visitors, that “the sight of such rooms, so many servants, and so splendid a dinner might not wholly overpower them”. From this, it is expected that Lady Catherine will be grand, haughty and overpowering – just as she is – and she wants the reader to dislike the place as much as Elizabeth does, and I think it is fair to say this is succeeded!  Elizabeth first goes to Rosings Park when she visits Charlotte, now married to Mr. Collins, and after the unexpected arrival there of Mr. Darcy, Rosings Park is the location of a key moment in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship – the proposal! I think Austen deliberately sets the proposal scene at this pretentious, overbearing and unwelcoming location to reflect the coldness of Elizabeth’s uncompromising rejection of Mr Darcy. The location is not used again in the book, perhaps because it represents the lowest point of their relationship. It is ironic that Elizabeth’s final cutting comment to Darcy is “I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry”, as she does! And after this point in the story, their relationship begins to change and Austen takes the reader to a different, more pleasant location, Pemberley... *sigh*

Clearly Austen wants the reader to view Rosings as pretentious as Lady Catherine de Bourgh herself! And to me, the expensive furnishing and general grandeur says Lady Catherine all over!  I think this prepares you to discover more about Darcy, when Elizabeth visits his home, Pemberley. Austen’s physical description of Pemberley makes the place sound absolutely wonderful, and gives vital insight into the REAL character of Mr. Darcy. (Grr Wickham!) The novel is written mainly from Elizabeth’s viewpoint, and since Elizabeth has been prejudiced against Darcy prior to her visit to Pemberley, you are also inclined to dislike him and might expect his home to be grand and showy, as a reflection of his character. Pemberley is mentioned earlier in the novel, for example Caroline talks of the “delightful library” there, and Bingley declares he would like a house just like Pemberley, although Caroline believes it is “more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation”. (That is how very wonderful a place it is! :) ) Austen wants you to build up an image of Pemberley’s splendour. Darcy’s home does indeed reflect his character, but both prove different to expectations.  To Elizabeth’s surprise, the house is not ostentatious, formal or showy, in fact “she had never seen a place for which nature had done more”.  The words like “handsome”, “beautiful” and “good” to describe the stunning grounds and tasteful, comfortable decor at Pemberley reflect Darcy! You begin to form a new opinion of Darcy, as he to is handsome (obviously!) and good!  Does this also suggest that Lizzy’s feelings are moving more towards love? :D  The phrases “artificial appearance” and “falsely adorned” give a clue that Darcy’s personality so far has been misjudged (again, grr Wickham!) The apparent change in Darcy comes as a greater shock for to Lizzy, coming so soon after the rejected proposal, set at Rosings, where Elizabeth has been so angry and forthright with Darcy. If I was her, I would not expect any civility at all from a man I insulted so much! I think it is deliberate that Austen introduces a visit to Pemberley quite late into the story, but at another pivotal moment, just as Darcy and Lizzy’s relationship is improving – finally! 

Austen’s portrayal of Rosings Park encourages you to dislike the house, whereas Pemberley is presented as a perfect rural idyll *sigh*. It is important to the structure of the story for Elizabeth to visit Pemberley at this point, as her visit shows her exactly what she has turned down by refusing Darcy. Being at Pemberley makes the proposal seem more realistic and desirable and you are given signs that Elizabeth is possibly starting to regret her decision, as “she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”  When later talking to Jane about her change of heart, Elizabeth suggests:  “I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.”  These two comments could be and are interpreted in different ways.  A contemporary reader of the novel might think that the only reason why Elizabeth changes her opinion and agrees to marry Darcy is because of the magnificence of his house and his wealth! I know that financial security was a major reason for marriage in the 19th century, as stated in the opening sentence of the novel; “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”  However the modern reader might think that perhaps these comments are not to be taken literally but are meant to be more sarcastic and to create humour, especially as Elizabeth wishes to marry for love, as evidenced by her refusal of Mr. Collins – and I think this too as I am a total romantic!  Pemberley really does represents a huge change in Lizzy’s feelings!

The housekeeper at Pemberley plays a major part in filling in some background detail to Darcy’s character and in preparing the reader and Elizabeth for the arrival of the ‘new’ Darcy.  She describes him as “the best landlord, and best master”, which is not in keeping with his image so far, (for a third time, grr Wickham!) however, this account is reliable since she has “known him ever since he was four years old.” When the housekeeper mentions her Master is not at home “but we expect him tomorrow”, I think Austen wants you to begin to hope for Darcy’s arrival, and luckily it does, unfortunately not with a wet shirt! Darcy makes his second unexpected arrival during this visit with the Gardiners, and it is quickly apparent to Elizabeth that Darcy’s character is altered, or not what she first thought. (grr Wic.. you get the picture!)  Austen presents this change mainly through Darcy’s words and actions towards others.  For example how gentlemanly when talking to Mr. Gardiner, Elizabeth “heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with the greatest civility, to fish there.” This behaviour on Darcy’s part is surprising, as the Gardiners are considerably below Darcy in social class.  He is also surprisingly friendly and civil towards Elizabeth herself and even wishes her to meet his sister. After her behaviour towards him at Rosings, Elizabeth would not expect Darcy to talk to her at all, let alone ask to introduce her to his sister! Such insults shouldn’t really deserve such attention, in fact deserve any attention at all! It is at Pemberley that Georgiana, Darcy’s sister, is first introduced.  She is important as she corresponds to Darcy’s ‘new’ character, and Georgiana’s story exposes Wickham’s true character! (YAY!) Austen starts to show the good side of Darcy, when he is relaxed in his own surroundings at Pemberley, so that you warm to him, just as Elizabeth does.  Can this be Mr. Darcy!” wonders Elizabeth in surprise! Austen uses a lot of exclamation marks during this passage – poor Lizzy! It is while at Pemberley that Darcy’s continuing feelings of affection for Elizabeth are suspected by the Gardiners, however Austen does not directly inform the reader of this, but keeps him guessing until Darcy himself confirms his feelings. This happens, again at Pemberley, when talking to Caroline Bingley, he leaps to Elizabeth’s defence, saying: “for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.”  (Love this line, and this point in the BBC version, haha Caroline!) Elizabeth receives a letter when at Rosings Park, explaining the truth about the problems between Darcy and Wickham. Pemberley is important as it becomes the source of truth about the argument with Wickham and the source of truth about Darcy’s past and his real character.  The reaction Austen successfully achieves from the unexpected arrival and subsequent turn of events and uncovering of the truth is very pleasing, well I think! ;)

The dramatic change in Darcy’s character could be interpreted as the effect of Elizabeth’s harsh criticisms. Alternatively, you might believe it is pretence, to persuade Elizabeth to marry him. However, I feel that because the change happens at Pemberley, Darcy’s childhood home, Austen wants us to believe that this was actually his true character all along, but seen through Elizabeth’s eyes, the reader has misunderstood him and been prejudiced against him. Again, I am romantic and will not even consider that Darcy’s new character is just an act!

The importance of the meeting at Pemberley, as a turning point in the relationship of Darcy and Elizabeth, is supported by the final line of the novel: “by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” This is why I think that Pemberley is the most important place in the novel.  You associate Rosings with Lady Catherine, arrogance and formality, and with the low point in Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship.  The reader is then taken to Pemberley, which is associated with Georgiana, beauty and truth, Darcy’s real character and the flowering of the relationship.  Without Pemberley, the classic ending to this famous story may not have been as we know it today – thank goodness it is!     

Your affectionate friend, 
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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Result of a Boring Afternoon...

Hello my dear friends!

Well, it was a pretty boring afternoon. So, while I was sun bathing - correction - sun burning, I made these images :)

I hope they are as enjoyable to you as they were to me when I made them :D

These are also hints at blogs which I hope to do in the future ;)

...because we all want to find ourselves an Austen hero, and I never get tired of looking at them!

...because I am full of admiration for the heroines and without them, there would be no story!

...because they all lived happily ever after! *sigh* 

...because you need someone to love to hate, and to make the hero fight for his woman! (Literally in the case of Brandon and Willoughby!)

...because you need someone to tax (or vex!) the heroines!

...because we all need a mama and papa - however embarrassing they may turn out to be!

...because the locations are beautiful, stunning and make me very jealous!

Your affectionate friend,
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Colin Firth vs. Matthew MacFayden

Colin Firth vs. Matthew MacFayden

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the question of which Darcy is the best is a strongly debated topic among avid Janeites, and, in my experience, more often than not, Firth comes out on top.

Firstly, I shall say that I am only going to compare Colin Firth and Matthew MacFayden as I believe they are the two performances which get talked of the most. And I will also put in my opinion here – which is that I cannot choose between these amazing actors and I do not favour one over the other. I am merely aiming to state my reasons why I think that MacFayden should be given a fair trial with his performance as Mr Darcy. I believe there are certain differences of situation that need to be taken into consideration before announcing Firth to be the best.

I know that many people say that Firth set the bar too high in the BBC’s production in 1995, meaning no one could even compete with his performance – don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic performance – but I think that the people who watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice with this thought in their head would be starting in the wrong frame of mind from the off. If you think that no one can better Firth, then you will not let yourself find someone to better Firth. Another problem in this area is that for many, 1995 Pride and Prejudice would have been their first viewing of an adaptation, given it was made 10 years before the other, of the spectacular novel – and your first experience is often the one that sticks! For me this wasn’t an issue. My first experience with any Austen at all was the 2005 version. But, when I watched the 1995 version for the first time, given that I heard a lot about Firth’s performance, I did not go into thinking that he would not be as good as MacFayden. Hence why I cannot decide who I like the best – and why I don’t plan to choose!

I have heard many people say to me, when asked about MacFayden’s performance, ‘he didn’t do it like Colin Firth!’But to this, I can only say - good! Would not it merely be copying if he had tried to imitate Firth’s performance? Each actor, whatever the role and however many times it has been played before, should make the character his own! This is exactly what I think MacFayden did as there is no real similarity between the way the parts were played. MacFayden himself said that he had not read Pride and Prejudice and consequently based the character entirely on the script he was given. I personally think I would have been bored to see another actor try and perform the same role in the same style... it is nice to see how different people interpret the character.

A side point here would be that many love the ‘extra Darcy scenes’ in the 1995 version – who could forget the image of a rather good looking man walking towards you soaked to the skin... Sorry – daydreaming!! ;) As there are these ‘extra’ (also the fencing and the bath scene) which are not in the novel, I think it is unfair to say people do not like the different scenes in the 2005 one. The first proposal, for example, is not like the book I grant you but it does mean he gets a wet shirt!!! Also other deviations from the setting of events I think can be overlooked, especially because of the added scenes in the 1995 one, and the ending may be different from the novel but it was still wonderfully romantic I think, even if not that Regency! I am from England meaning the ending was not the part outside Pemberley after their marriage which I will admit goes a little too far – even though it is still rather sweet! That ending is in the bonus features called ‘Alternate US Ending’, and for us the film finishes when Elizabeth runs out of her father’s room once she has permission to marry, to tell Darcy the good news! This leads to the ending of the 1995 – the double wedding – different to the novel also!
Back to Firth vs. MacFayden. I think it is fair to say that Firth went down the ‘proud’ route, whereas MacFayden went the ‘shy’ route. This brings me onto my other point of time scale. The 1995 SERIES was 5 hours long and the 2005 FILM only 2 hours – that’s a big difference! Do you not think that if MacFayden had gone the proud way that his transformation in such a short time would be a lot less imaginable and realistic? (Yes, I know that technically it is over the same time but I mean screen time scale!) Whereas, MacFayden’s shy Darcy growing into a more confident man did work for that length of time. Firth, however, had the time to develop the role from a very proud man to a lovely gentleman. :) Some here might argue that Darcy is meant to start proud as that it is how he is portrayed in the book – yes, it’s titled PRIDE and Prejudice I know ;) – but there is also in the novel instances showing him to be also a shy man. For example, he says himself “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before.” So, both pride and shyness are evident in the character in the novel meaning the performances of both are acceptable in regards to the novel.

These are just a few reasons why I think that MacFayden’s performance should not be so quickly dismissed and why I think that the high bar which was set by Firth was definitely reached by MacFayden and why I cannot pick a favourite and why I love them both equally, however much this little article makes me sound as if I am for MacFayden!

Your affectionate friend,
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Hello :)


I'm Lizzie posting my first post on my new blog! I hope to amuse my readers with diverting posts about anything and everything to do with Jane Austen. I hope I am able to live up to the  high standards of blogs I have seen and please forgive any mistakes as I just begin to warm up to blogging!

Your affectionate friend,
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Netherfield Park

Netherfield Park (AKA Basildon Park)

In the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, the house of Mr Bingley, Netherfield Park, is 'played by' the wonderful house Basildon Park. I have a particular regard for this place, for a reason which i will reveal later in this post.
The outside, the staircase and the majority of the 1st floor are used in the film.  Here are a few reminders of scenes that take place at Netherfield...

The 'accomplished woman scene'

"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women, I now wonder at your knowing any."

"Are you so severe on your own sex?"
"I never saw such a woman. Surely she would be a fearsome thing to behold."

The Bennets come to visit...

"A Mrs Bennet, a Miss Bennet, a Miss Bennet and a Miss Bennet"
"Are we to be invaded by every Bennet in the country?"

(Ok, I just love this scene, and it does take place outside Netherfield!)

The Netherfield Ball

"Did I just agree to dance with Mr. Darcy?"

"I dare say you will find him to be very amiable."
"That would be most inconvenient since I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity." 

Arrival at Netherfield
"When you met us, we'd just had the pleasure of forming a new acquaintance."
"Mr Wickham's blessed with such happy manners, he's sure of making friends. Whether he's capable of retaining them is less so."

"He's been so unfortunate as to lose your friendship. And I daresay that's an irreversible event?"
"It is. Why do you ask such a question?"
"To make out your character, Mr Darcy."
"And what have you discovered?"
"Very little. I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly."
"I hope to afford you more clarity in the future."

Leaving Netherfield

Right, now to my 'particular' reason for my attachment to Netherfield in this version. I live in England, and more importantly, I live roughly 20 minutes away from Netherfield! (well, Basildon Park really ;) )

It is a National Trust property so it is open to the public and my family and I go there often! The grouds are gorgeous and I love to stroll around the house, seeing all the beautiful rooms. Unfortunatley, I never run into Darcy, or Bingley, or his sisters (but the sisters I don't mind!)

There was an exibition there after the film was made which contained lots of behind the scenes information as well as the sets used and costumes - Darcy's coat was there! *sigh* Unfortunatley, I was only 9 in 2005 and therefore was not very interested in it... which is a real shame!

Costumes worn in the film and displayed afterwards. There was also Darcy's coat (worn in the scene above (*sigh*) ) but I couldn't find a photo of that!

Another photo I found of an example of what they displayed after the shooting of the film - a footman from Netherfield's coat and a chair used in the dining room

I recently visited Basildon and took some photos for one of my amazing friends! So, here they are... :)

Me at Netherfield Park (/Basildon Park!)

(Oh yeah - this is me, you can now put a name to a face :) )

This was my 'Jane Austenesque' photo ;) taken on the balcony, seen in the earlier image of the Bennet family

Photo blooper, if you will ;)

Balcony from further away :)

This is my version of the shot of the front of Netherfield that they do in the film :)

 Such a beautiful looking house...
Yes - that is me ;)

I hope I haven't made you too jealous ;) (that wasn't the aim of this post!)

Your affectionate friend,
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