Elizabeth Bennet

E [150x150]   E is for Elizabeth

(and also for Equal time – Darcy got his own post for D, and Elizabeth deserves her own post for E :-)]

 Elizabeth Bennet, one of my favorite heroines of all time! Maybe she doesn’t kick ass like Katniss or solve mysteries like Harriet Vane, but she manages to push the boundaries of her narrow social sphere, with grace, style, and humour.

E - Elizabeth Jennifer Ehle2

Elizabeth is bright, spirited, witty, and kind. She’s also pretty – not as beautiful as her celebrated sister Jane, perhaps, but quite appealing, as Mr. Darcy reluctantly admits.

“…no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes.

To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying….he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.”

 E - Elizabeth Eliz Garvie & David Rintoul [400x342]

Elizabeth is admirable, but not perfect. She’s too pert for Bingley’s fashionable sisters, she defies propriety by “scampering about the country” — walking miles alone to visit her sick sister — and she enjoys music but doesn’t practice enough to be truly “accomplished.”

E -Elizabeth Keira K book

 She does prefer books to cards, which is seen as a fault by Mr. Hurst, but Darcy considers that (in general) a woman should improve her mind by “extensive reading.”

E - Elizabeth Jennifer Ehle book

Elizabeth is the “prejudice” in Pride & Prejudice, because she misjudges Darcy. After reading his letter, where he explains the truth about Wickham and his sister, she is stunned.

E -Elizabeth Keira K swing [246x197]

            “She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd.

  ‘How despicably have I acted!’ she cried…..‘Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.’”

 Frankly, I’ve always thought Lizzie was perfectly justified in disliking Darcy, who behaved with such rudeness and arrogance. It seems hardly fair to blame her for overlooking his admirable qualities, considering that he did such a good job of concealing them.

It is another sign of a worthy heroine that she can learn from her mistakes, but not dwell on them. “You must learn some of my philosophy,” she tells Darcy when she eventually accepts his second, much-improved proposal. “Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

So…who is your favorite version of Elizabeth Bennet?

Greer Garson in the 1940 MGM movie, with Laurence Olivier?

E - Elizabeth Greer Garson [292x254]

Elizabeth Garvie, in the 1980 BBC miniseries, with David Rintoul?

E - Elizabeth Eliz Garvie [226x235]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Ehle, in the 1995 BBC miniseries, with Colin Firth?

E - Elizabeth Jennifer Ehle3

Keira Knightly in the 2005 movie with Matthew Macfadyen?

E -Elizabeth Keira Knightly2 [250x273]

Or maybe your favourite incarnation of  ‘Elizabeth’ turns up in one of the contemporary riffs on Pride & Prejudice:

Aishwarya Rai in the 2004 Bollywood spin, Bride & Prejudice, with Martin Henderson? E - Bride Prejudice Renee Zelwegger as Bridget in Bridget Jones’s Diary, with Colin Firth as Mark Darcy?

E-Bridget Jones2 [247x247]

Or Jemima Rooper in Lost in Austen, as the Pride & Prejudice fan who exchanges places with Elizabeth, goes back in time to fictional Georgian England (!)…and falls for Elliot Cowan’s Darcy?

E- Lost Austen 2

Elizabeth Garvie was wonderful in the 1980 miniseries, and for many years I couldn’t imagine anyone better – but I was blown away by the 1995 miniseries. Not only was it a gorgeous production, but I thought Jennifer Ehle was the quintessential Lizzy. She is still my personal favourite.

Who is yours?

Who would you cast as Elizabeth Bennet in the next version of Pride & Prejudice?

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Darcy, Darcy, Darcy!

D [150x150]  D is for Mr. Darcy.

Ah, Mr. Darcy! The pride in “Pride & Prejudice.” The wealthy, arrogant, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, he of the 10,000 pounds a year

[*ASIDE: 10,000 a year may not sound like much, but consider that in 1810 the average laborer earned a mere 20 pounds a year. Of course Darcy had to pay for all his servants and upkeep on his vast estates, but the 10,000  pounds was his annual income — about $ 700,000 – $1 million dollars in today’s money, and only about 4% of his overall wealth. Check out this analysis from the Jane Austen’s World blog.http://tinyurl.com/6l7aws.]

Fitzwilliam Darcy is the man who has to be dragged by his amiable friend to a public assembly, and then stands around looking down his nose at everyone, sneering at the locals for engaging in such frivolous entertainment, commenting:  “Every savage can dance.” D-Meryton Assembly [movie 2005]

A man who prides himself on his perfect manners, but refuses to  dance with Elizabeth, because “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

D-Netherfield 1 [movie 2005]

Tall, dark, handsome, rich – but not exactly a charmer. Which makes it so much fun to watch his reluctant, but growing, fascination with Elizabeth Bennett, culminating in one of the funniest proposals ever written:

In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

If only he’d stopped there! Maybe Lizzie could have overcome her dislike of him, in the face of all that ardent admiration.

But no, he had to go on and explain himself [narrative in the novel; dialogue, in the 1995 BBC screenplay by Andrew Davies]:

In declaring myself thus, I am fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgment.

Mr. Darcy is an intelligent man, yet he has no notion of how insulting it is to tell a young lady that he loves her against his better judgment.

Which is fortunate for the reader, or the story would have ended there, instead of going through many misunderstandings and revelations en route to (spoiler alert, if you need one) the HEA.

Of the many screen adaptations of Pride & Prejudice, which Mr. Darcy is your favorite?

Laurence Olivier, in the 1940 MGM classic, with Greer Garson?
D-Darcy Laurence Olivier[288x345]

David Rintoul, in the 1980 BBC version with Elizabeth Garvie? D-Darcy David-Rintoul [BBC 1979] [233x307]

Colin Firth, in the 1995 BBC miniseries with Jennifer Ehle?

D-Darcy Colin Firth [1995] [300x238]pg

Matthew Macfadyen, in the 2005 movie with Keira Knightly?
Darcy Matthew Macfayden2

 

Or, in some modern spins on the story —

What about Martin Henderson in the lively 2004 Bollywood version, Bride & Prejudice, with the lovely Aishwarya Rai? (and it’s nice to see Naveen Andrews outside of LOST, as “Bairah” – the Mr. Bingley role)

D-Martin Henderson Bride Prejudice [2004][265x190]

Colin Firth (encore!) as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary, with Renee Zelwegger as Bridget? (2001)


D-Mark Darcy Bridget Jones2 [275x266]

Or Elliot Cowan, in Lost in Austen, with Jemima Rooper as Elizabeth’s “understudy” 😉 ?
D-Darcy Elliot Cowan [Lost Austen] [480x270]

Have I missed any Darcys? Who’s your favorite Darcy incarnation?

Who would you like to see in the next adaptation of Pride & Prejudice? (there’s bound to be more!)