Sunday, June 22, 2008

Miss Austen Regrets

During Jane Austen Season on Masterpiece Theater this winter I decided to skip hassling my parents to record on the week when the biopic Miss Austen Regrets was on. If it was like any other biography, it would be very dull. If it was like the other movies, it would be very silly. If it was like Becoming Jane, it would be annoying. Unfortunately, as soon as my chances of viewing it were past, all the Austen fan sites came alive with gentle praise for the movie, and I regretted missing it.

Finally the copy of Sense and Sensibility came from the library, its featured chapter being the hour and a half long Miss Austen Regrets, a wonderful film (immodest women, if that bothers you, which it does me - no brothers allowed) about Jane Austen's views on love and marriage, mostly centering on her advice to Fanny, her niece. It made me think. I watched it on my anniversary, actually, and at first I thought it was rather the wrong choice for that, but then it was such a message of trusting God to do with your life what He wills, even if it isn't marriage - but retaining a high value of marriage that I am reconciled to the decision.

Not being a scholar of Jane Austen's life, I am without criticism of the movie's portrayal of her timeline, words, and actions. I never thought of her as being so flirtatious, but that is because I prefer, like Elizabeth Bennett, to imagine that the people I admire share my values and convictions and that their faults, which all people must be admitted to have, are never those which expose a good understanding to ridicule. I enjoyed the movie very much, especially the parts where Jane was writing Persuasion. The makers of this movie, at least, understood that story.

Cassandra's relationship with her beloved witty sister the author is a fascination to me, and I am always willing to know more of it. One thing brought up by the movie, however, was her brothers. Jane Austen (and Cassandra, of course) had six brothers who played important roles in their lives. Yet the only book Jane wrote where there was any substantial brother role was Mansfield Park, and though his character moves the story when it appears, and though he is dear and inspiring to his sister Fanny, he is really not all that central to the plot. So I wondered why Jane Austen so rarely wrote about what she knew so well: the relationship of brothers and sisters.

Do you ever wonder if Jane wrote Pride and Prejudice about herself and Cassandra - and her namesake was really the better representation? Oh, I suppose outspoken and satirical Jane could never be the quiet and tender Miss Bennett. Perhaps she really would have preferred marriage to Mr. Bingley for herself, though. I agree with Miss Austen Regrets, that Mr. Darcy would not have done for Jane Austen (just as I imagine he would not have done for me, though like all good fans, I adore him).

So now I'm back to reading the Annotated Pride and Prejudice, reveling actually in the comparative necessary openness of the written story as opposed to the famed 1995 Pride and Prejudice that got to so subtly show the change in the hero and heroine. It is so relaxing to ponder what one reads, if it is a good piece of literature. And who that has read Pride and Prejudice could argue that point?

To God be all glory.

3 comments:

KellyJ said...

To what 'anniversary' are you referring, dearest?

Lisa of Longbourn said...

It's Midsummer's Day, the most perfect day of the year on which to get married. So I celebrate my pre-anniversary on that day. It's all very quikily legitimate. Last year I flower shopped. This year I bought ice cream. I should buy flowers, too. Belated anniversary.

http://ladyoflongbourn.blogspot.com/2007/06/happy-anniversary.html

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Melian said...

So much for ten emails from
me on this subject, huh?
I think I might have to watch
it again...do you own it?