Thursday, October 31, 2013

The End and the Beginning

Well, the Jane Austen Challenge is over today.  I haven't posted as often as I might have liked (time flies and all that), but overall I had a great time and I hope you did too. :)
And now, to the "beginning" part.  Because of a totally last-minute and unforeseen decision, I am doing NaNo this year!  It starts tomorrow, as many of you know, and I am a little scared and a LOT excited.
Because of NaNo, I won't be posting as much this November, but I certainly won't stop entirely, and I'm not going to be neglecting my email correspondents either.  So there's my plan for next month.
And lastly, happy Halloween to those who are participating!  My family doesn't allow scary costumes/themes, but we do like to dress up.  I'm going as Emma Woodhouse this year. ;)

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?  What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Talk Like Jane Austen Day!

Well, as some of you may know, today is the 202nd anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's first novel, S&S.  In celebration of this grand and glorious day, it has been proclaimed that October 30th is Talk Like Jane Austen Day!  This is the day on which you may use all the witty quotes you've been memorizing since you began perusing her estimable novels, as well as imagining for a wonderful day that *you* actually live in the Regency Era.

No, this really doesn't have anything to do with the post topic- I just love Marianne's expression. :P
So, many happy returns of the day!  I sincerely hope that each of you is able to use at least one JA quote during this marvelous celebration.
And, since I'm celebrating it as well, I shall end this post with a quote from S&S, which is from one of the most amusing parts of the book:

“It is not everyone,' said Elinor, 'who has your passion for dead leaves.” 

...I have the honor of reminding everyone that it is autumn. ;)
-Miss Jane Bennet

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Heroines of Jane Austen

Well, I'm going to do the same thing I did in my last post, but with heroines: ranking the heroines of JA from favorite to least-favorite.
Note: Just to make things match up with my Heroes of JA post, I will be including Marianne Dashwood but not Jane Bennet.

1. Elinor Dashwood

 Elinor is quite possibly my favorite literary heroine ever.  She feels deeply, but she has the self-control and sense to hide it, and she's very smart.  She basically manages her whole family and is the only one who has concerns about Willoughby's and Marianne's conduct.  I greatly admire her.

2. Catherine Morland

 Catherine is just so sweet.  She's rather like a more naive version of Jane Bennet- she doesn't want to see any bad in people and she is unaware of ulterior motives.  She's humble and kind, and she loves her (rather large) family.  She frequently indulges in (sometimes disastrous) flights of imagination, but she's willing to listen and act on advice.

3.  Elizabeth Bennet

 Lizzy Bennet: everyone's favorite Austen heroine.  She's almost mine, as well.  I love her wit, her sparkle, her wish to do right, and her mostly impeccable instinct for people.  When she makes mistakes, she acknowledges them and tries to correct them.  She's sensible and sees the faults of her family, but she loves them anyway.

4.  Anne Elliot

 Persuasion isn't my favorite Austen novel, but Anne immediately became one of my favorite Austen heroines.  She's bookish and shy, and despised by her proud, domineering family, but she loves them anyway.  She also keeps on loving Captain Wentworth even though he makes his dislike of her plain.

5. Fanny Price

 Fanny is generally overlooked as a "doormat."  It's true that she can be frustrating with her excessive timidity, but she has principles and sticks to them even though she's afraid.  Therefore, I still greatly esteem her.

6. Emma Woodhouse
 Emma can be downright infuriating sometimes, but she is a wonderful heroine nevertheless.  I love watching her grow throughout the story, and of course, her romance with Mr. Knightley is completely heart-melting.

7. Marianne Dashwood
Marianne Dashwood is even more infuriating than Emma, and she doesn't improve dramatically as Emma does, but she is likeable anyway- most of the time.  She's been encouraged in her romanticism since she was very small by her mother, and she's young and inexperienced, which make her behavior more understandable.  So while I don't like her as much as the others, I still have a certain fondness for her.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Heroes of Jane Austen

Well, I was rather puzzled as to what to post, until the lovely Melody gave me this idea.  I'm going to rank the heroes of Austen, from favorite to least-favorite.

1. Mr. Knightley
 Even back in the days when I thought Emma was the dullest, driest book in existence, I liked Mr. Knightley. He's a true gentleman, sensible, brave, honorable and compassionate.  When I became a complete JA fan, Mr. Knightley, of course, became my favorite JA hero and quite possibly my favorite literary hero ever.  He's the kind of guy I'd like to marry someday.

2. Mr. Tilney
 Mr. Tilney, another one of my favorite literary heroes ever.  He's honorable and brave like Mr. Knightley, with a unique sense of humor.  He'll do anything for the people he loves, and refuses to back down when he's standing up for what's right.
3. Mr. Darcy
I do like Mr. Darcy very much, notwithstanding his silly habit of getting wet.  He has many flaws, especially pride, but he tries to better himself for Elizabeth.  He loves his family and friends and always tries to do what's best for them.
4. Colonel Brandon
 Although he doesn't get nearly enough time to shine in S&S, I like this hero a lot.  He loves Marianne, but because she loves Willoughby at the time,  he doesn't say anything about Willoughby's character or try to court her himself.  He's compassionate (giving Delaford to Edward?), selfless, and wise.
5. Edmund Bertram 
Edmund Bertram...the first word that comes to mind is meh.  I don't especially like this Austen hero, honestly.  He doesn't have much discernment or force of character.  However, that being said, I do think he's an okay hero.
6. Captain Wentworth
I think Captain Wentworth is a somewhat unworthy guy.  When Anne is pressured into breaking their engagement, he goes off in a rage and tries to completely forget about her.  Meeting her again by chance eight years later, he flirts with two girls in front of her to spite her.  However, as he realizes what a treasure Anne's heart is, he becomes more likeable and I do sigh over his letter.
7. Edward Ferrars 
 Edward Ferrars.  My last post was about him and why I don't like him, which is why he's at the bottom of this list.  He's weak, selfish, and spoiled.  If you want my opinion of him in full, you can read my post on him here.

Who are your favorite Austen heroes?  How would you rank them?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Edward Ferrars: The Villain

Sometimes, when I'm talking with people, I mention that I very much dislike Edward Ferrars.  The response is invariably, "WHAT?!"
Since most of the people I know seem to like Edward as much as I dislike him, I decided to do a post on why I think he is one of the villains of S&S.  Not as bad as Willoughby, certainly, but not exactly a model of deportment either.

At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are staying at Norland until they can find a new place to stay.  Enter Edward...who is secretly engaged.  He gets to know Elinor, and falls in love with her.

Now, he can't really be blamed for falling in love with her.  But he doesn't stop there.
"No sooner did she [Mrs. Dashwood] perceive any symptom of love in his behaviour to Elinor than she considered their serious attachment as certain, and looked forward to their marriage as rapidly approaching." 

Admittedly, Mrs. Dashwood is overly romantic and probably he didn't exhibit plain signs of love.  But he obviously paid attention to her; enough for his sister to notice.  There are several things wrong here: firstly, he knew that he couldn't marry Elinor, but he acts like he's courting her anyway, which is deceitful and hurt Elinor.  As she confesses to Marianne, Elinor really is falling in love with him.  Secondly, he surely must have noticed Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne's expectations and changes in Elinor's behavior towards him, as well as Fanny Dashwood's evident dislike of the time he's spending with Elinor.  He can't tell about his engagement because that wouldn't be honorable, but he could stop his attentions and be merely polite.  The reason he doesn't do this seems to be because he is too weak and selfish to stop giving rise to false hopes.

Then, Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters move to Barton Park, after making Edward promise to come for a visit, which he should not have done.  For one thing, his sister evidently didn't want him to go, and surely he could tell that she would cause trouble for Elinor and her immediate family.  For another, why visit and raise hopes (and torture yourself), if you know that you aren't free to marry?

After causing Elinor grief by his coldness, Edward goes away and isn't heard of until Lucy Steele comes to visit and tells Elinor that she, Lucy, and Edward have been secretly engaged for a long time.  This, obviously, is a terrible blow to Elinor, and she tries to avoid Edward as much as possible.

When the news about Lucy and Edward is made public, Edward sticks to his promise and refuses to break his engagement, even though he'll be disinherited.  This is honorable and right, and it's one of the few times I like Edward Ferrars.  Then, Lucy breaks her engagement with him, and he rushes off right away to propose to Elinor.

Now, this is fine; if I were in his position, I'd do the same thing.  But I don't like how Edward makes excuses for his past behavior:
'He [Edward] could only plead an ignorance of his own heart, and a mistaken confidence in the force of his engagement.
"I was simple enough to think, that because my faith was plighted to another, there could be no danger in my being with you; and that the consciousness of my engagement was to keep my heart as safe and sacred as my honour. I felt that I admired you, but I told myself it was only friendship; and till I began to make comparisons between yourself and Lucy, I did not know how far I was got. After that, I suppose, I was wrong in remaining so much in Sussex; and the arguments with which I reconciled myself to the expediency of it were no better than these:- The danger is my own; I am doing no injury to anybody but myself."'

He apologizes finely, but I don't like the end.  He thinks he's doing no damage to anyone but himself?  Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne made no secret of their feelings.  However, I suppose that it's plausible; Edward redeems himself at the end of the story, changing from a selfish, rich, foolish young man to a more mature, honorable one.  However, he is still definitely not my favorite.

And that's my opinion of Edward Ferrars.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sense and Sensibility (1995) Review

This may shock a lot of Jane fans, but until two weeks ago, I hadn't seen Sense and Sensibility (1995).
I know many Janeites who were introduced to the world of Jane Austen by this movie.  I don't think I know any JA fan who hasn't seen this movie.  
Well, now I have.  And I'm going to write a review of it, because it was so good.

Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson)
I have a few quibbles with this one.  The casting directors (I think it was the casting directors; I know it was somebody) insisted that Emma Thompson play the role, even though she was thirty-six at the time.  She finally agreed, so they made Elinor twenty-seven instead of nineteen.  This would have made her an old maid in Jane Austen's era.  On one hand, it's more heartbreaking when she discovers Edward is already engaged, because it's like she's been given a second chance at marriage and had it ripped away from her.  On the other hand, it seems a bit unlikely that Marianne would say things like, "Elinor, where is your heart?" to a sister ten years older than herself.  However, nitpicks aside, I loved this performance.

Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet)
In my opinion, Kate Winslet absolutely owns this role.  She looks and acts like the Marianne I imagined- she even sounds like "my" Marianne.  She has just the right mix of selfish and unselfishness- I always get angry with her during the scene where she discovers that Lucy's engaged to Edward, but I also feel sorry for her and I really like her when she honestly tries to be more like her older sister.  She made me understand Marianne a lot more.

Margaret Dashwood (Emilie Fran├žois)

I was really, really glad that they developed Margaret's character more.  In the book, she's pretty much just a news (or gossip) bearer.  So I was happy to discover that Margaret actually has a personality. :D

Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones)
 Before this movie, Mrs. Dashwood had always been sort of a two-dimensional character to me.  She was emotional and encouraged Marianne in her dramatic-ness, and she was a widow.  That was all I knew.  Well, when I saw this portrayal, I got to know Mrs. Dashwood a lot better.  I realized what harm she was doing to Marianne by being so over-the-top, and I will definitely see her in a whole new light the next time I read the book.  Gemma Jones did a really good job.

Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant)
Urgh.  Edward Ferrars.  My least-favorite (and the only actively disliked) Austen hero.  I was curious to see how he'd be portrayed in this one, and again, I was not disappointed.  They made him at least a little more likeable with him actually trying to tell Elinor of his engagement, and Hugh Grant played him perfectly.  He was a lot like the Edward of the book, only they made him a better character, IMO.

Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman)
Again, I loved this portrayal.  The scene where he's bringing Marianne in from the rain is so tear-jerking, he seemed to be the right age, and he just turned in a wonderful performance overall.

John Willoughby (Greg Wise)
Ah, yes.  John Willoughby, the charming rake.  I really liked Greg Wise as Willoughby- he was handsome and charming and he showed just enough slimy weakness to be believable.

Mr. Palmer (Hugh Laurie)
We are in the middle of watching Jeeves and Wooster right now, and I had to give Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer special mention.  He was indeed "droll," and his facial expressions, as always, were perfect.  He made me giggle hysterically in the (very little) screen time he got.

Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs)
Imogen Stubbs did a great job as Lucy Steele.  She was mean-spirited, slimy, and really, really maddening, but she was still pretty and charming enough that I could understand how Edward could fall in love with her.

Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton (Elizabeth Spriggs and Robert Hardy) 

I loved this portrayal.  Due to the shortness of the film, Mrs. Jennings and Sir John didn't get much screen time, and I believe Lady Middleton was cut out entirely, but the loud laughter and general goodwill (as well as some vulgarity) of the pair made quite a Mrs. Jennings-ish impression.

In Summary... 
I LOVED this movie.  Most, if not all, of the actors were admirably true to Jane Austen's characters, the costumes and sets were gorgeous and (to my limited knowledge) accurate, the script and dialogue were interesting and witty, and the story never dragged.  Great filming, wonderful actors and actresses, and beautiful scenery all combine to make this one of my favorite Austen movies, second only to Emma (2009) and P&P95.

-Miss Jane Bennet

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

For the Month of October...

Well, Celebrate Musicals Week is over, and October has started.  This is just going to be a quick note letting you know what I'm doing this month.
I was really enjoying the Jane Austen Challenge I've been doing- blogging only about Jane Austen has been encouraging me to read the books again, watch adaptations I haven't seen, and just do more JA research in general.  So, I am going to be continuing the Jane Austen Challenge for the month of October! *wild cheering*
Anyway.  So, the rundown: I'll be posting only on Jane Austen for the whole of October, except for reviewing one very special movie.
And this post is really short, so I'll leave you with one of my favorite JA moments ever.