PERSUASIONS ON-LINE V.27, NO.2 (Summer 2007)
Inside Out/Outside In: Pride & Prejudice on Film 2005

LAURIE KAPLAN

 

Laurie Kaplan (email: lkaplan@gwu.edu), Visiting Professor of English and Academic Director of the George Washington University England Study Center (London), teaches British Literature of the Two World Wars for the Elliott School of International Affairs. She is a former editor of Persuasions.

“If it were merely a fine house richly furnished, . . . I should not care about it myself; but the grounds are delightful.  They have some of the finest woods in the country.” 

(Pride and Prejudice 240)

 

“I really like the idea of the five virgins living on an island,” says Joe Wright, the director of the 2005 Focus Features film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  Speaking in a clip included with the DVD of the movie, Wright also says that Groombridge Place, a seventeenth-century moated manor house in Kent, was selected as Longbourn because it would provide “a sense of reality.”  Although Wright does not explain this phrase, he must be referring to the proximity of the house to the farmyard and outbuildings, replete with pigs, chickens, and geese, muddy courtyards, lines of laundry, and cattle.  Wright comments further that the house offers a “relationship between the interior and the exterior”; but he does not elaborate upon this relationship, so we might jump to the conclusion that Wright, the screenwriter Deborah Moggach, and the production crew are aware of Jane Austen’s particular use of interior/exterior formal structures and metaphors to underscore larger themes.  But in the filmic development of individual scenes, Wright transposes indoor/outdoor scenes without giving attention to the subtext.  His vague comments about the relationship between the interior and the exterior belie the fact that the film shows a lack of regard for Austen’s subtext and irony, especially where she has used a particular indoor or outdoor scene to build a thematic network.  The film, therefore, fails to capture the coherent thematic relationship between interior and exterior spaces that Austen so carefully delineates.

 

Pride and Prejudice is not a novel about five young women who are sequestered on an island.  Lady Catherine, in fact, is shocked that all the Bennet girls are “out” in Meryton society.  With the comings and goings of the Lucases and the officers, Longbourn functions as a hub of activity.  Wright’s idea about the five virgins and their island imposes an extraneous falseness on the way exterior space is used in the film.  Because Austen’s individual scenes contribute to an overall thematic unity, by exchanging outside settings for indoor settings Wright cancels the impact of such themes as claustrophobia, repression, and lack of choice.  The shifting of Austen’s iconic scenes from exterior to interior spaces, or from interior to exterior spaces, breaks the rhythm of the drama, pulls apart the imagistic structure Austen so carefully set up, and creates an anti-Austenian environment by forcing a Brontëan darkness on a novel of manners.  In Strange Fits of Passion, Adela Pinch points out that the “innovation” in the novel of manners “is its microscopic and seeming realistic attention to behaviors, bodies, and signs of feeling” (140).  What is subtle and “microscopic” in the novel is rendered overt and obvious in the film, especially because Wright’s transposition of the indoor/outdoor scenes negates Austen’s elegant metaphorical subtext.  The overall effect of this new cinematic text of the classic novel is something so bland that there seems to be little connection between dramatic action and thematic idea.

 

In the process of adapting a novel for the screen, the director of the film and the writer of the screenplay must make changes—dialogue, extra minor characters, and some scenes, for example, will need to be edited for a filmic version of a novel.  Since we all “see” the characters differently when we read, the selecting of actors offers filmmakers incredible choices in the way they can shape the story’s essential elements—the physical and emotional chemistry (between Darcy and Elizabeth, for example, and between Elizabeth and Wickham).  It is therefore significant that Wright chose Keira Knightley for the part of Elizabeth Bennet.  Keira Knightley, of course, is more than just “‘tolerable’” (12); she is a gorgeous young woman, and she shifts the perspective and turns the “gaze” away from Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) and back on Elizabeth Bennet.1  Wright’s careful focusing on the character of Elizabeth Bennet remains true to the most obvious thrust of Jane Austen’s novel, and as viewers, we delight in an elegant and energetic Elizabeth Bennet who cajoles the camera’s focus.  It is unfortunate, therefore, that the female hero’s most important sentence has been altered.  In this film version, Elizabeth is denied her “epiphanic moment” (Stovel) of self-recognition:  “‘Till this moment, I never knew myself’” (208) has been edited out of the screenplay.  Even if we accept alternatives to adaptive fidelity, Moggach’s screenplay violates not only the spirit and the essence of Austen’s story but the viewer’s expectations as well.  Extreme cuts such as this raise questions about a screenwriter’s responsibility to a classic text, especially when a large percentage of the audience probably knows (to the point of quoting) the iconic lines and the physical environment of the scenes.

 

The shifting of the interior/exterior settings of the most dramatic—and most memorable—scenes in the novel raises larger questions about how a classic text needs to be handled in the novel-to-film transformation.2  In transforming a classic novel into a popular film, what is the screenwriter’s and the director’s responsibility to the text and to the author?  How much should a screenwriter edit, refine, purge, and transform the author’s most famous lines and most dramatic scenes?  Should a director completely disregard the way a writer, especially a writer as careful as Jane Austen, has structured scenes?  The condensed scope and the limited timeframe of a film require that dialogue be pruned, that conversational points be made more quickly, that monologues be truncated and turned into voiceovers, and that scenes be edited out or merged.  When Austen’s iconic lines are cut and scenes are shifted, however, the film loses the network of verbal and visual iconography that structures the larger implications and meanings of the book.  Without this network of themes and subtext, the film becomes a showcase for a set of discrete visual images that fail to support an overarching idea.

 

            In Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood, Kathryn Sutherland examines aspects of “fidelity criticism, with its awareness of a set of limitations to representation (in the existence of a prior model) and its potentially incompatible belief in the possibility of separating an original from its representation” (340).  In the case of a classic text and its representation on film, the existence of a well-known prior model does not negate the possibility of filmic adaptation; however, a classic text does demand a modicum of fidelity—to aspects of dialogue as well as to scenic structures.  If the scenes of the film are not as carefully laid out as the chapters in the novel, the result will be an adaptation that is baggy and incoherent, no matter how beautifully it is filmed.

 

Transferring the major dramatic scenes that Austen has specifically set outdoors (e.g., Elizabeth’s reading of Darcy’s letter in the lane outside Rosings Park) to a parlor inside a house (e.g., Hunsford parsonage) creates a sense of metaphoric incoherence.  In this adaptation, the indoor/outdoor scenes and the metaphoric subtexts have been rearranged haphazardly and inconsistently, and the result is a filmic spectacle that lacks a formal aesthetic structure.  Although Sutherland argues that in novel-to-film adaptation techniques, “form” is “expendable” (340), in this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice the lack of a structural skeleton and the transmogrification of the structural details create a movie that bears only a superficial relation to the spirit of the classic novel.3 

 

Scenes are the formal building blocks of what Alistair Duckworth calls the “aesthetic whole” (xii), and Austen, the master builder, has structured the component scenes in Pride and Prejudice to show the gradual evolution of Elizabeth’s consciousness and ideas.4  The elements of Wright’s film have not been “homogenized” into a totality (Sutherland 341).5  And although Sutherland points out that “Austen’s text displays a weak dependence on metaphor and figurative language (and film’s power lies in the manipulation of image and imagery)” (341), it is certainly the case that the author’s interior and exterior descriptive passages depend upon metaphors of enclosed vs. open spaces, of extended or inhibited views, of boundaries to be recognized or crossed, of energy and meditation.

 

The filmic versions of the novel’s exterior scenes seem decorative—more Romantic—rather than connected to a larger thematic or dramatic plan.  On full display in this film are the trappings of what Sutherland (among others) calls the English “heritage movie genre” (343), which includes such generic aspects of country life as grand estates and houses, stone bridges, muddy pigsties, and misty, moonlit vistas.  Camera work through the open doors and windows offers Wright the opportunity to reveal the inside of houses from the outside—e.g., the dining room at Longbourn where Mary Bennet sits at the pianoforte6 —and the outside from the inside—e.g., the farmyard at Longbourn, and, for one brief moment, the fountains at Pemberley.  On the night of the Meryton assembly, a cloud-covered gothic moon hangs over the countryside, and this Romanticized phenomenon seems to help shape Wright’s “take” on romantic lovers and the world they inhabit.  Caroline Bingley says that Elizabeth’s appearance when she reaches Netherfield is “positively Medieval.”  Darcy stands alone in the landscape, staring, like Heathcliff, at the house of the woman he loves; in a line that seems to come straight out of Jane Eyre, Darcy tells Elizabeth that she has “bewitched [him] body and soul.”  These clichéd Romantic trappings are symptomatic of the larger failure of understanding that infuses this film.  The makers of this adaptation have apparently been affected not only by English Heritage but also by the Brontës’ vision of England and lovers.

 

            The problems of scenic transference begin to arise after Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins’s proposal.  In the novel, an angry and frustrated Mrs. Bennet seeks Mr. Bennet in his library; Mr. Bennet’s sole response here is to “raise[ ] his eyes from his book” (111).  Next, Lizzie is summoned to the library to hear her father’s decree that “‘[y]our mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do’” (112).  The library, which signifies Mr. Bennet’s refuge from his wife and daughters and their activities of daily living, becomes a setting that emphasizes the separation of husband/wife roles in the Bennets’ marriage.  That he stays secluded in his library when his favorite daughter is being encouraged by her mother to accept an unacceptable suitor reinforces a negative view of the father figure, of Mr. Bennet’s penchant for excluding himself from real life, and foreshadows his lack of concern when Lydia is to go to Brighton.  While the library offers Mr. Bennet escape, there is the accompanying suggestion that he is boxed into this room by his unequal marriage.  Austen turns Mr. Bennet’s library, a room that resonates with positive metaphoric significance, into negative space.

 

In the film, however, this important interior scene is transferred to the outdoors.  After she rejects Mr. Collins, Elizabeth dashes to the lakeside, and Mrs. Bennet, with a gaggle of geese at her heals, races after her; then Mrs. Bennet runs back to the house to drag Mr. Bennet down to the lake to talk to Elizabeth.  By transferring the library scene to the lakeside, the film hides significant flaws in Mr. Bennet’s character.  In addition, while the filmic scene provides an opportunity for Mr. Bennet to strike a Byronic pose against the gorgeous watery background, the same scene exposes Mrs. Bennet, who is not a runner, to ridicule:  with her petticoats flapping, she is visually and aurally equated with the quacking geese.

 

            The film takes greater liberties with indoor/outdoor scenes once Elizabeth leaves Longbourn to visit Charlotte Collins at Hunsford Parsonage.  Pivotal landscape settings that reveal Elizabeth’s character, rather than her social behaviors, are replaced by bland interior spaces.  Elizabeth is known for her “love of solitary walks” (182), for those times when she escapes the social fray and indulges in peaceful meditation and contemplation.  Elizabeth Toohey points out that “in the spirit of the Romanticism of Jane Austen’s time, appreciation of and psychological connectedness with the land becomes a virtue, one more component of the moral character” (52).  The film misses this point completely because Elizabeth is rarely given a chance to be in nature or to observe nature.  For example, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s revelations to Elizabeth about Darcy’s interference in Mr. Bingley’s affairs, which Austen has set in Rosings Park, are moved inside—to the church where Mr. Collins is preaching.  Austen’s scene provides space for Elizabeth to consider some new concepts about choice and marriage problems and possibilities.  Underscoring the “truth universally acknowledged” that overarches the action of the novel, Colonel Fitzwilliam explains some of the monetary facts of the marriage market.  He tells Elizabeth that not only do men “‘suffer from the want of money,’” but also that “‘[y]ounger sons cannot marry where they like’” (183).  In many ways, Colonel Fitzwilliam reveals that he is as anti-romantic as Charlotte Lucas:  he, too, must make a responsible marriage.  He then reveals to Elizabeth that Darcy “‘lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage’” because “‘there were some very strong objections against the lady’” (185).  In her room at the Parsonage, as she turns these words over in her head, she focuses on class rather than on behavior.  She deems that Darcy’s objections were “her having one uncle who was a country attorney, and another who was in business in London” (186); she refuses to entertain the idea that her mother’s behavior and “want of sense” were important enough to have “material weight” in Darcy’s mind (187).  Elizabeth’s agitation, tears, and headache are a physical reaction to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s comments and to her own musings.

 

This 5½-page chapter signals the beginning of a new, imperfect awareness in Elizabeth and serves as an initial widening of Elizabeth’s vision, but Austen shows how difficult it is to accept new ideas, so Elizabeth abruptly denies the ramifications of those ideas.  The outdoor setting reinforces the contemplative mood of the beginning of the chapter, but the mood breaks with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s revelations, and Elizabeth wants to get back to Hunsford and shut herself in her room.  In the film, however, the setting and the mood are completely different.  Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth sit together and whisper to each other during church services; Elizabeth can look across the aisle and see Darcy.  Mr. Collins rambles on (the screenplay attempts a joke by having Mr. Collins use the word “intercourse” in his sermon) while children play with toys and adolescents fall asleep.  The crowded church resonates with boredom and bad behavior.  Meanwhile, outside it is pouring rain and thundering.  The church scene is so busy that the viewer cannot focus on what is important.  It seems that the major purpose of transposing what was originally an exterior scene to the interior setting of this scene is to prepare for the cinematographic spectacle that follows:  Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth.

 

In the novel, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth in a room at Hunsford Parsonage.  Pleading a headache, Elizabeth has stayed away from an evening at Rosings, and she has used her time alone to review the contents of all the letters she has received from Jane.  When she hears the door bell, she imagines that it might be Colonel Fitzwilliam coming “to enquire particularly after her” (188); instead, Mr. Darcy walks into the room and enquires after her.  The mood is set:  with a peculiar mix of disappointment and anger, Elizabeth responds “with cold civility” to his enquiry, after which an uncomfortable silence ensues, adding to the nervous tension in the room.  Then, with no preamble, Darcy blurts out to an astonished Elizabeth his iconic lines about how he has struggled to repress his affections.  She makes the requisite responses to his proposal, but the more she speaks, the more emotional she becomes, and all pretence of civility dissipates.  Austen ironizes moments of strong feeling by containing the characters in rooms that are super-charged with emotions, or by placing them in natural settings and showing their manners.  In this tête-à-tête, the setting of the scene in a small interior space has the effect of heightening the drama because there is no means of emotional relief—except for Darcy to leave.  The contained space of the setting conveys intimacy, but Darcy and Elizabeth are boxed in by four walls and social conventions requiring good behavior.  Anger and passion fill the space between and around them.7 

 

The film takes this intimate interior scene and sets it in a picturesque landscape that relies on the weather to convey torment and agony.  After church, Elizabeth runs through lashing rain; she sprints over an eighteenth-century stone bridge; she clings to the columns of a Greek temple.  Soaking wet and in violent competition with each other as well as the elements, Darcy and Elizabeth shout above the thunder and rain—like Heathcliff confronting Catherine on the Yorkshire moors.  What is most annoying is the filmic thunder that underscores important lines of dialogue:  when Darcy uses the phrase “lack of propriety,” his words elicit a thunderous boom.  Even the rain is loud.  In her analysis of the use of sound and voice in film adaptations of Austen’s novels, Ariane Hudelet makes an important point about nuance:  “sound,” she says, “works to recreate the type of expressiveness found in the novel, a punctual expressiveness not obvious or conspicuous in any way, but where each hesitation, each sigh, can become loaded with meaning according to the context where it takes place” (183).  In this film, nothing is nuanced.  The big bow-wow effect may garner rave reviews from some film critics, but it does not correspond to the essence of the novel.8  Moments of strong feeling in Austen belong to the characters, not to the weather.

 

            In the novel, after she has rejected Darcy’s proposal, Elizabeth escapes from the Parsonage to “indulge herself in air and exercise” (195) and to attain some privacy.  Attempting to avoid Mr. Darcy, “instead of entering the park, she turned up the lane, which led her farther from the turnpike road.  The park paling was still the boundary on one side, and she soon passed one of the gates into the ground.”  It is significant that even in her agitated state, Elizabeth notices how the countryside has changed during her visit, and how “every day was adding to the verdure of the early trees.”9  For this scene, Austen juxtaposes the flowering of the landscape, the liberating expanse of landscape, and the gates to Rosings Park; the effect is a set of complex images signifying Elizabeth’s own emotional and psychological changes as well as her sense of exclusion.  It is at this point that Darcy and Elizabeth meet at the gate; he holds out a letter for her, which she takes “instinctively” (195); he walks off and she begins to read.  Walking and reading, she is absorbed and transformed by his revelations, excuses, and explanations, and for two hours she walks in the lane and thinks about what he has told her.  For Elizabeth, the effects of reading the letter are so great that she “felt depressed beyond any thing she had ever known before” (209).  What she reads in the letter transforms the way she sees herself and her family, and it is important to consider how the writing of the letter has changed Darcy as well.

 

            Wright’s adaptation plays with the structure of the letter scene and focuses on Darcy’s delivering the letter rather than on Elizabeth’s reading the letter.  When Darcy sets the letter on the widow sill, Elizabeth seems almost to be in a catatonic state.  When she turns abruptly from the mirror, Darcy is gone.  Wright sets this scene in a narrow room where light from a window falls obliquely on Elizabeth as she stands and reads a line or two and then gazes out; viewers see Mr. Darcy galloping away through the woods.  The mood of this exquisitely beautiful scene is meditative, and the camera lingers on the female form illuminated in the clear light, clearly an allusion to a Vermeer painting.  But what is lost by transferring the reading of the letter from the outdoors to the indoors is the subtextual significance of Elizabeth’s expanding vision.  As Barbara Wenner points out, “her landscapes provide Austen’s heroines with spaces to reflect knowledgeably—even psychically—upon their situations” (95).  In the film, Charlotte interrupts Elizabeth as she reads Darcy’s letter.  There is no room in the parsonage for Elizabeth to reflect on the events that have just taken place or on the contents of the letter.

 

            Jane Austen’s description of the visit to Pemberley includes iconic details that reveal Elizabeth’s growing awareness and maturing self-analysis, but once again the film not only transposes outdoor scenes to the opulent rooms inside Pemberley House, it also cuts pivotal exterior scenes.  How important is it that Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner meet Darcy in the grounds of Pemberley?  For one thing, the parkland setting where they meet for the first time after their heated argument at Hunsford is natural rather than artificial.  By subtly highlighting the symbolic significance of the house and the grounds, Austen creates metaphorical connections with Mr. Darcy:  Pemberley House is set naturally in the grounds, the stream has  “some natural importance . . . without any artificial appearance” (245), and a simple bridge leads to “a spot less adorned than any they had yet visited” (253).  From the setting, the reader, like Elizabeth, learns more about the character of Darcy, about his connection with the estate.  The natural setting exhibits attributes of the owner that reinforce the excellent report given by the housekeeper.  Elizabeth intuits and appreciates the connection of Darcy with the land and the estate.  The scene allows for the genuine natures of both characters to evolve.  Their natural attributes would not have been detected by Elizabeth in the drawing room or the music room or the long gallery of the house, where codes of conduct must necessarily shape behavior.10 

 

In the novel, Austen places characters in settings that challenge or console them, that reflect or reveal a state of mind, that shape their behaviors.  When Elizabeth and Darcy are getting to know one another, they are cooped up in crowded and oppressive, albeit beautiful, rooms, where they argue, confront each other rudely, and misbehave shockingly.  It is therefore fitting that Elizabeth should meet Darcy again not inside Pemberley House but in the Park, which is full of so many beautiful vistas that Mr. Gardiner is very nearly tempted into a ten-mile walk around the lake.  The scene functions as a meditation on natural (not artificial) beauty, and the talk is not of money and matchmaking but of trout and fishing.  In the woods along the stream in Pemberley Park, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s exquisite civilities barely disguise their heightened emotions and physical agitations.  In this landscape setting they can be themselves.

 

What is missing from Wright’s film is the balanced interior/exterior structure that reveals the larger implication of the ways that Austen uses Nature and artifice as elements of the settings, ideas that the film disregards to the point of incoherence.  Transposing the iconic re-connection scene from outdoors to indoors confirms Ellingham’s statement that Pemberley has come to symbolize both “fetish and commodity” (90).  Interiors in movies provide opportunities for elaborate set dressing and an abundance of material things.  In the film, Elizabeth becomes separated from the Gardiners and the housekeeper, so she wanders around Mr. Darcy’s house alone, and she touches art objects that are displayed on the tables.  This violation of propriety is demeaning:  Elizabeth appears to be interested only in material objects.  Wright has used the interior space to project a vision of Darcy’s (and his class’s) acquisitiveness and Elizabeth’s (and her class’s) greed.  The interior setting of this scene contributes to the critical view that adaptations of Austen’s novels are nothing more than “visual packaging”—“grand sets crammed indoors with priceless art objects and antique furniture” (Sutherland 343).  But it is not simply the over-dressing of the interior sets that presents thematic problems at this point.  Pemberley’s (i.e., Chatsworth’s) stone-cold sculpture gallery, abundance of expensive objects, and opulent rooms detract from the emotional and thematic intensity of the re-connection of the two main characters.

 

Finally, in a rather laughable transference of an exterior scene to an interior space, Lady Catherine comes to call on upstart Elizabeth Bennet at Longbourn.  In the film, Lady Catherine arrives so late that the family must be roused from their bedrooms.  She mentions the Bennets’ small garden, but instead of walking in the novel’s “‘prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of [the] lawn’” (352), Lady Catherine meets with Elizabeth in the drawing room, thereby cancelling the uncomfortable comedic effect not only of Lady Catherine’s haranguing Elizabeth in the little wilderness, but of Elizabeth’s triumph over intimidation.  The wilderness scene in the novel places Lady Catherine, the most artificial character, a grande dame who has not previously been seen in the outdoors, at odds with the setting; it is she who squirms.  Is the point of this transference from the wilderness to the drawing room to emphasize Lady Catherine’s hauteur and grandeur?  Is it to show Longbourn and its occupants in the most unflattering light?  Anyone who has read the novel will try to puzzle out why the film made this very minor change.  

 

Plot-driven to an extreme, Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice aims to get Elizabeth married to Darcy, but if making that match is the only point of the novel, Pride and Prejudice would not have achieved and maintained its unassailable classic status.  Austen’s individual scenes reinforce central values and underpin greater thematic rhythms—Nature and artifice, the individual and society, appropriate behaviors in public and private.  Instead of analyzing the indoor and outdoor scenes for their metaphorical and thematic significance, and for how they reveal universal truths about human nature and individual and societal behaviour, Wright opts for grandiose set effects and shows that only the surface of the classic text has been highlighted.  Since the filmic version radically transposes the indoor/outdoor scenes that the author so carefully constructed, with the consequent exclusion of structural coherence, the main matter of the new form is spectacle.  Perhaps novel-to-screen transformations suffer most when the screenwriter and director jettison subtlety for obvious architectural, atmospheric, and “English Heritage” clichés.  Bringing Pride and Prejudice to movie theatres is a more complicated project than filming five virgins on their island in the south of England.

 

 

NOTES

 

1.  Lisa Hopkins, in her discussion of Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle), analyzes the way this adaptation focuses so intensely on the “iconic centrality” of Mr. Darcy rather than on Elizabeth Bennet.  Hopkins comments that although “Andrew Davies’s adaptation is extremely faithful to the novel,” the changes that do occur in the film center on Mr. Darcy’s “feelings, his desires, and his emotional and social developments” (4-5). 

 

2.  Other critics have covered some of these questions about adaptation.  For collections of essays on a variety of novel-to-film adaptations of Austen’s work, see, for example, Gina MacDonald and Andrew MacDonald’s Jane Austen on Screen, and Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield’s Jane Austen Goes to the Movies and Jane Austen in Hollywood.

 

3.  Sutherland refers to the fact that this film was in the process of being made when her book was published.

 

4.  As Laura Mooneyham White points out in “Emma and New Comedy,” “[t]he 1950s were the last period in which structure, form, and genre were widely discussed, when structuralism drew readers’ attention to the creative function of form, the way in which ‘the larger rhythm of the whole action [of a narrative] shapes and indeed creates the parts’” (129; quoting C. L. Barber).  White finds that “literary studies have begun to see a resurgence of critical interest in aesthetics rather than history” (128). 

 

5.  Sutherland says that “[t]he screen absorbs the viewer into an artfully homogenized representation in which meaning is delivered as spectacle more swiftly than words absorb the viewer into illusion of a total environment—though words, especially heightened, literary words, can do this, too, but at a slower pace” (341). 

 

6.  The scene is one of the allusions to Vermeer’s paintings of women inhabiting interior spaces.

 

7.  It is a claustrophobic interior setting, and the physical details of constricting space contrast with the outdoor setting of Darcy’s second proposal in Volume III of the novel. 

 

8.  In her article “What Meets the Eye: Landscape in the Films Pride and Prejudice [1995] and Sense and Sensibility, Sue Parrill finds it “surprising that more of the filmmakers who have translated Austen’s novels into film have not exploited this obviously visual element for its suggestive value” (33). 

 

9.  Mary Jane Curry shows how Austen uses the concept of “serious pastoral” in her descriptions of Elizabeth’s delight in the details of the natural beauty of the countryside.  In the film the camera lingers on cloudy skies, Gothic moons, mist, storm—elements that are extraneous to Elizabeth’s walks.  The film, therefore, indulges in “decorative pastoral”—using stock Romantic images to conjure emotions.

 

10.  In her discussion of the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility, Sue Parrill finds that Emma Thompson and Ang Lee “recognized the significance of landscape as Jane Austen used it in the novel—to support characterization and character relationships” (33).  The important caveat here is the clause “as Jane Austen used it in the novel.”

 

Works Cited

 

Austen, Jane.  Pride and Prejudice.  Ed. R. W. Chapman.  3rd ed.  Oxford: OUP, 1986.

Curry, Mary Jane.  “‘Not a day went by without a solitary walk’: Elizabeth’s Pastoral World.”  Persuasions 22 (2000): 175-86.

Duckworth, Alistair M.  The Improvement of the Estate: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels.  1971.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1994.

Ellington, H. Elisabeth.  “‘A Correct Taste in Landscape’: Pemberley as Fetish and Commodity.”  Jane Austen in Hollywood.  Ed. Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield.  Lexington: UP Kentucky, 1998.  90-110.

Hopkins, Lisa.  “Mr. Darcy’s Body: Privileging the Female Gaze.”  Jane Austen Goes to the Movies.  Ed. Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield.  Lexington: UP Kentucky, 2001.  1-9.

Hudelet, Ariane.  “Incarnating Jane Austen: The Role of Sound in the Recent Film Adaptations.”  Persuasions 27 (2005): 175-84.

Parrill, Sue.  What Meets the Eye: Landscape in the Films Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  Persuasions 21 (1999): 32-43.

Pinch, Adela.  Strange Fits of Passion: Epistemologies of Emotion, Hume to Austen.  Stanford: SUP, 1996.

Pride & Prejudice.  Dir. Joe Wright.  Screenplay by Deborah Moggach.  DVD.  Working Title, 2005.

Stovel, Nora Foster.  “Famous Last Words: Elizabeth Bennet Protests too Much.”  The Talk in Jane Austen.  Ed. Bruce Stovel and Lynn Weinglass Gregg.  Edmonton: U Alberta P, 2002.

Sutherland, Kathryn.  Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood.  Oxford: OUP, 2005.

Toohey, Elizabeth.  Emma and the Countryside: Weather and a Place for a Walk.”  Persuasions 21 (1999): 44-52.

Wenner, Barbara.  “‘I have just learnt to love a hyacinth’: Jane Austen’s Heroines in their Novelistic Landscape.”  Persuasions 24 (2002): 90-101.

White, Laura Mooneyham.  Emma and New Comedy.”  Persuasions 21 (1999): 128-41.

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