Tuesday, July 19, 2016

And now, back to Austen

I've continued to plod my way through Sense and Sensibility. It's a lovely book, and as with most books, after you've mastered the first handful of chapters the plot takes off, the dialogue becomes fun, and you're in. Here are a few more discrepancies with the nearly-as-lovely movie:

* When Willoughby breaks up with Marianne, the family has not gone to church. They've only gone for a day visit to Sir John's house. Otherwise, however, I'll admit the movie-makers stuck fairly close to truth in this scene.

* Remember how Edward Ferrars doesn't come to Barton Cottage to visit them until the very end of the movie, after they've returned from London, etc.? Not so in the book! I'm currently in a passage where he's come to visit the Dashwoods, right after Willoughby has left.

*Regarding Col. Brandon's rushed departure on the day of the Delaford picnic (a property, by the way, that does not belong to him), there is some serious disconnect. It comes from the elderly Mrs. Jennings. She's itching with curiosity about what has taken Brandon to town so quickly and secretly. "I can guess what his business is, however," she says. "Yes, it is about Miss Williams, I'm sure," she adds next. Marianne knows nothing of Miss Williams. "She is a relation of the Colonel's," Mrs. Jennings tells her. "She is his natural daughter."

I'll admit that while watching the movie over the years I always expected that the old love interest of Brandon's ("Eliza" in the movie) had produced the child ("Beth") with HIM. But in the movie, it's made quite clear that the child is not his. Brandon is not portrayed in the same demeaning role that Willoughby later will fill. But in the novel, Austen begins with this accusation, however quietly spoken, on Mrs. Jennings lips. I'll be interested to see how this plays out in the book. I truly do not remember the book's plot well at all; it's been too many years since I've read it.

* Finally, an important theme running through the book is absent in the movie, and that's Marianne's firm belief -- indeed, her personal love maxim -- "that no one can ever be in love more than once in their life." [An aside for us grammar sticklers: you see that even Austen put incorrect pronoun agreement in her characters' mouths! "One" does not align with "their." Ah well! And her spellings are surprising. Twice she's used "her's." First I thought it was merely a typo, but when it happened again, and then again with another possessive pronoun, I conceded Austen's language was less prescriptive and more descriptive.] On to Marianne's Maxim: I don't recall its being mentioned in the movie at all! The point of her belief is, of course, that Brandon could not really love again, after his early disappointment. And Willoughby would not be able to love again after Marianne, nor would Marianne after Willoughby. And after they discover his history, all would have to say that Edward could not love again after his early engagement with Lucy Steele -- a character who has yet to appear in the book, although in the movie she arrives for the failed picnic at Delaford.

I'm on page 91 now. Lots more to come. I'm eager to discover what else the movie took liberties with. Did you know that Emma Thompson wrote the screen play for the movie, and it took her about five years? Pretty impressive!

(Right now, I'm also reading The Cat Who Came to Breakfast. and The Children of Green Knowe, which explains why I'm so slow at assessing Austen's book. A post about Green Knowe will be coming soon.)


  1. I love your comparison! More please!x

  2. Enjoy all that reading! My computer seems to cut in on my reading time. lol. Not good!


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