Saturday, June 16, 2012

Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax – engaged?

Now this unexpected turn towards the end of Emma is not what I expected when I first read it. Frank was for Emma surely! But, as always, Mr Knightley was right when he thought about a possible attachment between them.

But, looking back, Austen does include some hints for us along the way.

Firstly, when Jane first comes on the scene and when she is talking to Emma one day, she is very vague about Frank, whom she met at Weymouth. But, unfortunately for the very interested Emma, she doesn't wish to talk about him much when Emma questions. This is shown well in the 1996 Paltrow version...

“Was he handsome?”

“Many say he is.”

“Was he agreeable?”

“He was in no way disagreeable.”

“Was he a man of information?”

“All his statements seemed correct.”

These are not the answers which will satisfy Emma’s intrigue about this Mr Frank Churchill.

The next hint is linked to Frank’s always managing to find an excuse for not visiting his father in Highbury. His poor, poor aunt keeps becoming too ill so she can’t bear to part with her beloved Frank. Luckily, he does manage to visit. Isn’t it funny how it is after Jane has arrived that he is able to come?

Next up, this trifling business about this trip to London for this vital hair cut! Imperative business indeed! What a coincidence that the pianoforte for Jane arrives shortly after his visit... but of course it is from Colonel Campbell, but Jane is not so sure as everyone else seems to be.

Frank lets his guard down a little at the Cole’s party. When the piano is placed, naturally, Emma is asked to perform! After a lovely song, or duet once Frank joins in, Frank asks Jane to perform. Surely this is just out of politeness, but then asking her to sing a further three songs? That is more than mere politeness...

This speculation about this lovely, yet a little inconvenient gift of a piano, is the talk of the town for a number of days, and what an honour for Miss Bates when Emma come to view the instrument. What a surprise that Frank is already there, mending Mrs Bateses glasses. I thought he found the company of the Bateses too intolerable?

Isn’t Frank so very eager for this ball! I wonder why... Well, of course to dance with Emma. Jane seems also rather animated when she hears of the possibility of a ball, in fact, Emma had never seen her so animated, about anything! Could they be thinking of the possibility of dancing with each other? Of course, Frank would say, he would have to dance at least once with Jane, out of civility. And why would he wish it, he told Emma her dancing is of little consequence.

Oh dear, Mrs Churchill is ill, again. He must be off this instant, and had only a short time to say goodbye to Emma. Shame he couldn’t spare 5 minutes for the Bateses. Oh? He has already been there, to Emma’s surprise. Why would he wish to spend the last morning of his at Highbury, at that house? “Seeing as you know everything, you can hardly be without suspicion.” What does this mean? Well, Emma has an answer to everything, Frank must be in love with her – Emma that is, not Jane! It must be this, with his high regard for “this place” and he thought he would be able to stay here forever...

Oh, poor, sad Jane. Going out in rain to fetch her letters! Who could they be from making them of such important for her to go out in the pouring rain? She could have caught a cold! How nice of Mrs Elton to offer to collect them, not that Jane will let her servant be troubled. And, there is the issue of privacy. And again, how obliging of Mrs Elton to help Jane to find a governess position. But, Jane will not agree to this. She doesn't want to leave Highbury, quite yet. But surely all the good positions will be gone soon, and surely she does not wish to stay with her, talkative, aunt for too long? What could the reason be?

Finally Frank returns and the ball can go ahead! Isn’t Frank the gentleman, escorting Jane and Miss Bates into the ball, before they were even three steps out of the carriage? But, when Emma questions him on why he is staring at Jane, he ungallantly says that he is, supposedly, thinking how awful her hair looks – must be an Irish tradition!

Next up, just before the strawberry party, the mention of Dr Perry's plan to set up a carriage is mentioned. He thought he heard in Mrs Weston's letter, but Mrs Weston knows nothing of this plan. Where did he hear it then? He must have been mistaken...

What a fun game to play! Nice to return to your childhood ways with a game of alphabet tiles (not that some need to look far to be a child again!) 'Blunred'- blunder is a peculiar choice of word to give Miss Fairfax isn’t it?

Next we have one of the biggest hints. Knightley's suspicion. We have seen throughout that Knightley’s judgments and ideas are normally correct, with Elton for example. Knightley wonders about the extent of Jane and Frank’s relationship. But, as Emma is always right, this is nonsense! She knows how much Frank dislikes Jane!

Jane is still continually refusing to accept a governess position, why ever not?

On the day of the strawberry party, Jane does not seem in spirits. So much so that she decided to leaves the strawberry party early. She is fatigued, but it is not the usual kind. It’s a shame she wouldn’t take the carriage home, and in such heat! Shortly after, Frank arrived – also not in spirits. He says he ran into Jane so assumes the party is breaking up! He is not sure why she would be walking home in this heat, its madness! Frank really is not happy, why is he so angry I wonder?

Box hill – doesn’t Frank go a little far with his ‘attentions’ to Emma during this visit? There are also some very strange comments during the conversion, referring to getting to know someone in their own environment if you are to truly understand someone’s disposition. What a strange topic of conversation...

Once again Frank is off again for his Aunt, who then dies! How unfortunate! During this time, Emma wishes to make emends to them for her hurtful comment at Box Hill. But, poor Jane is too ill to see Emma, every time she tries to visit! What a shame. Jane has never seemed keen on Emma since Frank was showing her particular attention, but why should this bother her? Surely she is nothing to Frank.

So, shortly after this, it is all revealed! What a surprise Emma received! How is it even possible? Jane and Frank – engaged! Who would have thought it...

Your affectionate friend,
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?

The Lizzie and Lady Catherine Face Off

This scene plays a vital part in the story, and Lady Catherine herself is very useful, which she would like, as she always likes to be useful! 
First of all is the structural significance. It is very important because it affects the future events of the story. It is this meeting which spurs Darcy to propose to Lizzie, for the second time. After this confrontation, Lady Catherine passes on the substance of the conversation to Darcy, and tells him that, when pressed, Lizzie would not agree to satisfy her Ladyship and promise her never to marry her nephew. This is what gives Darcy the hope that Lizzie is not absolutely and decidedly against him anymore, and unfortunately for Lady Catherine, the effect on Darcy is opposite to the one she intended!    

Having this scene at this point provides a contrast to the previous happy event of Jane and Bingley’s engagement, as well as contributes to making the ending more romantic – love will always prevail, even if it means going against wishes of the relations, the Aunts in particular!

This passage also shows how important social class really is to families such as Mr. Darcy’s.  It also reinstates the feeling of dislike for Lady Catherine which was previously provoked when you first meet her.  We also begin to see that, through Elizabeth’s quick and witty responses, she is beginning to regret refusing Darcy’s proposal, and I find that this one short scene increases your admiration for Lizzie dramatically! 

This scene in particular would really provoke the reader into disliking Lady Catherine even more than they may have before.  Austen creates this reaction through her comments to Lizzie, which show her pride about her family and prejudice against people such as Elizabeth. “Do you know who I am?” and “the voice of every member of their respective houses” prove about how important she considers social standing.  Also, there are many words and phrases that Lady Catherine uses which would easily turn you against her, with her arrogance, self-importance, pomposity, bullying and patronisation of Elizabeth!  Harsh comments such as “without family, connections, or fortune” show again the importance of how the family is seen in the eyes of society and also her prejudice against families who are much lower than her in society.  It also makes the reader dislike Lady Catherine as this comment is insulting Elizabeth in every possible way.  Lady Catherine is clearly a very proud woman – common in this family I think it is fair to say ;)

Lady Catherine’s insisting on Darcy marrying her daughter, because of an agreement made when they were very young, is quite frankly, ridiculous! Arranged marriages...  never a good idea! And besides, the final success of the marriage depends on the people who are meant to marry! As well as Lady Catherine seeming very ridiculous, she also seems very unromantic.  She says nothing about the importance of love and her argument is based entirely on class and money.  She is further dislikeable as a result of Elizabeth’s self-defence and willingness to carry out the fight with Lady Catherine in the first place and through the wit which is displayed in her replies, also increasing your admiration of Elizabeth.

Personally, I think that Lady Catherine’s reasons against Lizzie aren’t the best...

1. Her family and connections – or lack of them! She doesn’t consider the family status good enough for her nephew, which in regards to social status could be true, but otherwise, not the best reason. I guess the only half decent idea could link to the elopement of Lydia, as this does affect the entire family, but even then, Lydia did in the end marry Wickham, and how linked would she herself be... she is the aunt of Darcy, and then Lydia is Lizzie’s sister... not that close a connection! 

2. Her strongest reason - he is supposed to marry Miss. Anne de Bough! But, the completion of this wish entirely depends on the people who are meant to marry! However much was planned by and Lady Catherine tries to do, she herself cannot be the sole person involved in bringing about the marriage, whether it was the favourite wish of her and of Darcy’s mother or not!

3. If she married her nephew Darcy, then she would not be acknowledged by anyone of her relations and acquaintances – what a heavy misfortune that would be for Lizzie, to miss out on the pleasure of seeing Lady Catherine... shame! 

To these weak reasons, Lizzie has some wonderful, and powerful, replies and reasons why she could marry Darcy...

1. Firstly, she doesn’t think being ignored by her relations and friends will matter to her, or Darcy a great deal! And I am with her!

2. Lizzie doesn’t understand why Lady Catherine thinks that she can have any influence with her and her decisions in her life! Who is she to Lizzie?  She is so wholly unconnected with her!

3. In regards to the differences in social class, "He (Darcy) is a gentleman and I am a gentleman’s daughter – so far we are equal!" (You go girl!)

4. If Darcy wants Lizzie to be his choice of wife, why shouldn’t she accept him? It is his choice and shouldn’t he decide what he wants to do, and not his aunt?

5. If Darcy did propose to her, not that she will admit it, doesn’t it suggest that perhaps Darcy is not happy with the arranged marriage between him and Anne? I think so Lady Catherine...

Overall, this scene is so necessary to the plot and so well written that it makes it, in my opinion, one of the best scenes in the entire book!

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where have I seen you before?

There are many actors and actresses which pop up in more than one Austen adaptation. Here are the ones I have noticed, I'm sure I have missed or even not noticed some!

Blake Ritson:
He has appeared as the insufferable Mr Elton in the 2009 version of Emma

and also as the caring Edmund Bertram in the 2007 Mansfield Park - very different characters indeed!

Jonny Lee Miller:
He has appeared as the dashing Mr Knightley in the 2009 adaptation of Emma,

the thoughtful Edmund Bertram in the 1999 version of Mansfield Park

and he was also in the 1983 version of Mansfield Park as little Charles Price, but I couldn't find a photo of him as this small part!

Sylvestra Le Touzel:
She played the timid Fanny Price in the 1983 version of Mansfield Park

and also she appeared as the silly Mrs Allen in the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey.

Nicholas Farrell:
He played the kind Edmund Bertram in the 1983 version of Mansfield Park

and also appeared as Mr Musgrove in the 2007 version of Persuasion.

Samantha Bond:
She was the lovely Mrs Weston in the 1996 (Beckinsale) adaptation of Emma

as well as the foolish Maria Bertram in the 1983 version of Mansfield Park.

Sophie Thompson:
She played the annoying Mary Musgrove in the 1995 version of Persuasion

and the, once again, annoying, Miss Bates in the 1996 (Paltrow) version of Emma, similar characters in some ways!

And finally, Carey Mulligan:
She played the innocent Kitty Bennet in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

and the deceiving Isabella Thorpe in the 2007 version of Northanger Abbey - I like her as innocent Kitty!

There could well be more but these are the ones I have noticed, and I thought I would share them :)

 Your affectionate friend,

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Saturday, June 09, 2012

How to become an Austen Heroine

Well, my amazing friend Alice sent me these wonderful tips for how to become an Austen heroine!
I don't take credit for these, Alice found them on another blog, who found them somewhere else!

1. Break into song at random moments and wait for a chap "to finish your duet."
2. Conduct yourself like a heroine. This doesn't mean flirtation. This means modestly, wisdom, expertise. (Don't be like Lydia Bennet... )

3. Speak in a British accent. In public. Gwyneth Paltrow managed it! (I've got this one covered!)


4. Read. A lot. A whole lot.

5. And imitate the girls you read about. You'll be hard pressed to find better role-models!

6. Let the men be the heroes. Let them give you their spot in line, open doors for you, carry things for you. Let them treat you as us girls should be treated!


7. Walk in the rain as often as possible!

8. Keep an eye out for adventure and respond accordingly, and not like Catherine Morland!

9. Faint now and then...

10. Wear flowers in your hair.
                                            11. Learn archery.

12. Learn an accomplishment such as singing, drawing, playing, falling down hills right as a hero comes along, but avoid matchmaking!

13. Leave notes everywhere you go!
                  14. Practice making witty comebacks!
15. Keep in mind the story you're a part of - your story!
Your affectionate friend,
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