Monday, November 21, 2005

"Ironic intelligence and self-assurance"

Semester is over; education begins. A. Sue Parill's article "Pride and Prejudice on A & E: Visions and revisions" in the Literature / Film Quarterly (Volume 27, Issue 2, January 1999) analyses how the mini-series translates the book's theme of "clarity of vision" into the visual medium.

The viewer's insight into character and character relationships also owes much to the physical appearance of the actors. to their interpretations of their roles, and to the staging of particular scenes. Jennifer Ehle is pretty without being a conventional beauty. Jane Austen's heroines are never described as beautiful; they are, however, usually presented as superior to more beautiful female characters. They win their men through their intelligence, probity of character, and persistence. Ehle in the role of Elizabeth Bennet communicates well both the independence and the vulnerability of the novel's main character. Ehle's Elizabeth radiates ironic intelligence and self-assurance. When Elizabeth purses her lips in disapproval at the behavior of Lydia (Julia Sawalha) or attempts to check her mother's rash speech, the viewer can believe that she has principles. Both at Rosings and at Longbourn, she refuses to allow Lady Catherine de Bourg (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) to intimidate her. The contrast between Ehle's manner and appearance and those of Suzannah Harker, in the role of sister Jane, helps to emphasize the opposite qualities of the two sisters. Harker conveys Jane's tranquility and passivity well. Jane almost always appears calm, is reticent to show her feelings, and can be depended upon to think the best of everyone. Elizabeth is more likely to say what she thinks and to make hasty judgements about people. Yet when Elizabeth is brought to doubt her judgements of Darcy and Wickham, she is chastened and subdued by her new knowledge-of herself and of others. She sees with regret that she may be responsible for losing her best chance for happiness with a man she can truly love and respect. [from page 2]

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