Mike Kueber's Blog

January 25, 2015

Wikipedia and Pride & Prejudice

Filed under: Book reviews,Movie reviews,Wikipedia — Mike Kueber @ 12:25 pm
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Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites on the internet, trailing only Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Baidu, and Amazon.  Of the 100 most popular websites, it is the only reference encyclopedia.  Many searches on Google for information result in a referral to Wikipedia, which I promptly click because, based on thousands of reviews, I have invariably found its entries to be thorough, well-presented, and reliable.  The website is free, but I am so appreciative that I voluntarily donate during its periodic fundraisers.

Because of my appreciation for Wikipedia, and because I like to write, I was intrigued by the possibility of creating an entry, and a few years ago I created one for my hometown of Aneta, ND based on several historical sources.  Inexplicably, however, my posts were taken down almost as soon as I had posted them, and I didn’t have enough motivation to learn why.

Then a few months ago, I finished bingeing on TV series “Californication.”  After reading the Wikipedia entry on the series, I concluded that its summary of Season Six did not do justice to the latest woman of my dreams (Faith), so I replaced it with one that focused on her, as follows:

  •   Season 6 started on January 13, 2013. Its storyline revolves around Hank’s relationship with Faith (played by Maggie Grace), whom he meets in a rehab facility. Hank reluctantly agrees to rehab, not because of a drug dependency, but rather because of depression over his role in ex-girlfriend Carrie’s suicide at the end of Season 5. Faith is a famous rock-star groupie/muse who is in rehab because of the recent death of her rock star, and ultimately she becomes Hank’s muse. Faith and Hank seem to be made for each other, but in the end Hank is too weak to move on from Karen even though it appears that their relationship has run its course.

I apparently performed the edit properly because it is still there for the world of Hank fans to read.

In the past few weeks, I have discovered a new woman of my dreams – Elizabeth Bennet – and after reading the voluminous Wikipedia entry on Pride & Prejudice, I decided to squeeze in some of my thoughts on the 2005 movie adaptation vis-à-vis the book, as follows below.  I have found this activity challenging and enjoyable and plan to do more of it in the future.

Below is Elizabeth Bennet as played by Keira Knightley in the 2005 movie adaptation.  This scene shows her surprise as Darcy helped her into a carriage.

z_pp3_20_Elizabeth_in_the_carriage2

The storyline for Joe Wright’s movie differs from Jane Austen’s novel in the following significant ways:

1. The book begins with the most famous opening line in the history of literature – “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Although Deborah Moggach’s script includes this line in its opening scene, the movie deletes Moggach’s opening scene – namely, Bingley moving into Netherfield. As Austen would have said, Penny-wise; pound foolish.

2. In Chapter Three of the book, at the first Meryton Assembly ball, Darcy dances only with Bingley’s two sisters and “declined being introduced to any other lady,” including Elizabeth, whom he describes to Bingley, within earshot of Elizabeth, as “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” In the movie, Darcy is introduced to the Bennet girls immediately and he rejects Elizabeth when she asks Darcy if he likes to dance and disparages her to Bingley with the “tolerable” description. Even more significantly in the movie, Elizabeth actually got into a verbal sparring match with Darcy regarding how to win a woman’s affection and decisively won the match by suggesting that a man could win a woman’s affection by “dancing, of course. Even if ones partner is barely tolerable.” As the Moggach script notes, “Darcy looks startled. He has no idea she heard him. He blushes.” This is easily one of the script’s most remarkable adaptation of Austen’s storyline, not only for eloquent put-down, but also for highlighting a dominant theme in a book that Jane Austen initially titled, “First Impressions.”

3. In Chapter Six, the Bennet daughters “dined in company” with Darcy and Bingley four times within a fortnight of the Meryton Assembly ball. During one of those gatherings – an evening gathering at the Lucases – not only do Elizabeth and Darcy engage in some additional verbal sparring, but afterwards Darcy admits to Miss Bingley that he had “been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow….. Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” None of these encounters are included in the movie, and thus the viewers are privy to Mr. Darcy’s incipient transformation.

4. Both the book and movie contain several scenes related to Jane taking ill at Netherfield. Chapter Eight of the book contains dialogue that articulates Darcy’s escalating estimation of Elizabeth – “I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.” “Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.” But the movie efficiently remedies this omission of growing affection by creating a farewell scene in Elizabeth and Darcy “share a look.” When Darcy surprisingly takes Elizabeth’s hand to help her into a carriage, her look of surprise at this act is probably the movie’s most memorable image. Never a better example of a picture worth a thousand words.

5. During Darcy’s dance with Elizabeth at the Netherfield ball, the movie contains a wonderful, memorable comment from Elizabeth when asked by Darcy if she often talks while dancing – “No, I prefer to be unsociable and taciturn.” Chapter 18 in the book contains a longer, more thoughtful quote – “I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.” To which he responds with wit – “This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure. How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.”

6. After the dancing at the Netherfield ball, Chapter 18 describes a supper, during which Mrs Bennet was exceptionally and loudly obnoxious in bragging about the potential marriage of her Jane to Mr Bingley, and all of this was within earshot of both Darcy and Elizabeth. He was disgusted; she was mortified. Although this scene is critical in explaining why Darcy subsequently tries to break up Jane and Bingley, the scene is not referenced in the movie. This is a major shortcoming in the making of a cohesive, plausible storyline.

7. In Chapter 26, Mrs. Gardiner advises Elizabeth against hooking up with an impoverished Mr. Wickham, and Elizabeth accepts the advice. Later in the chapter, Elizabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner that Wickham has moved onto a lady who recently inherited 10,000 pounds, and Elizabeth hypocritically accepts Wickham’s behavior as reasonable. None of this is mentioned in the movie; rather, Elizabeth merely notes that the militia moved out of town for the winter, and the viewer is given no explanation for the end of her budding romance with Wickham or for Elizabeth’s nonchalance with regard to it.

8. In Chapters 32 and 33, Darcy has several interactions that encourage him to propose to Elizabeth in Chapter 34. None of those interactions other than a dinner at Rosings are in the movie, which causes his sudden obsession with her to seem nonsensical.

9. In Chapter 34, Darcy leads up to his proposal by saying, “In vain I have 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.” In the movie, he says, “Miss Bennet, I have struggled in vain but I can bear it no longer…I love you. Most ardently.” This line, not from Austen, is one of the most memorable from the movie.

10. In Chapter 40, Elizabeth tells sister Jane about Darcy’s marriage proposal. This makes Darcy’s subsequent interest in Elizabeth less nonsensical to Jane. Jane is never enlightened in the movie.

11. In Chapter 52, Elizabeth and Wickham, after his marriage to Lydia, come to an accommodation, with her saying to him, “Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. In future, I hope we shall be always of one mind.” By contrast, in the movie Elizabeth refuses to look at him and turns away.

12. In Chapter 58, when Darcy asks Elizabeth if her “feelings are still what they were last April,” the book’s narrator simply says that Elizabeth “immediately, but not very fluently gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change… as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.” In the movie, Elizabeth takes Darcy’s hand but only says, “Well, then. Your hands are cold.” Only the script provides the transparency we have come to expect from Elizabeth – “I am very happy to inform you that not only have my sentiments changed there are no other words which could give me greater pleasure.”

13. In Chapter 59, Mr. Bennet is pleased to learn that Darcy, not Mr. Gardiner, bailed out Wickham, “So much the better. It will save me a world of trouble and economy. Had it been your uncle’s doing, I must and would have paid him; but these violent young lovers carry every thing their own way. I shall offer to pay him to-morrow; he will rant and storm about his love for you, and there will be an end of the matter.” This comment shows great insight and is hilarious, but it didn’t make the movie. Instead, the movie has Mr. Bennet merely say, “Good Lord. I must pay him back,” and Elizabeth responding, “No, you mustn’t tell anyone! He wouldn’t want it.”

14. The book contains no indication that Mr. Bennet feels any strong affection for Mrs. Bennet. To the contrary, the book contains explicit verbiage indicating an absence of respect. But in the movie, there are two scenes showing affection – (1) early in the movie, they kiss after Mr. Bennet informs Mrs. Bennet that he has already called on Bingley, and (2) late in the movie, they appear to be moving toward a kiss (in bed, no less) after discussing the engagement of Jane to Bingley. Neither of these displays of affection were included in the Moggach script.

15. The book fails to provide Darcy with an opportunity to impress Elizabeth with his virility or masculinity. By contrast, the 1995 BBC adaptation includes a famous “Lake” scene with Darcy in a wet shirt as he encounters Elizabeth at Pemberley. Apparently, scriptwriter Moggach planned to capture this same sentiment by creating a scene where Elizabeth sees “Darcy, exhausted, rides into the stable yard. In the corner is a trough and pump. He strides up to the pump, puts his head under it and douses himself with cold water. From a window Elizabeth looks out at Darcy. Darcy looks up and for a second catches Elizabeth looking down at him. She turns from the window.” Filmmaker Joe Wright remained true to the book and excluded this scene from the movie.

16. The book ends with Elizabeth playfully asking Darcy to “account for his having fallen in love with her.” The movie ends similarly, albeit not in Moggach’s script, with Elizabeth playfully telling Darcy the endearments he will be allowed. The final one is the most famous – i.e., “You may only call me Mrs. Darcy when you are completely and perfectly and incandescently happy.”

 

 

 

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1 Comment »

  1. […] recently blogged with excitement about posting a lengthy Pride & Prejudice piece on Wikipedia.  Sadly, I […]

    Pingback by Wikipedia update from Ruby2010 | Mike Kueber's Blog — January 30, 2015 @ 3:47 am | Reply


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