Tag Archives: Pride & Prejudice

July Creative Challenge, day 20: Austen

Jane-0

Oh Jane, you clever, clever girl.

You write six novels and people love you for ever.

How is it even possible that a clergyman’s daughter who has been dead for nearly 200 years still has all of her major works in print?

OK,  Colin Firth explains a lot.

OK, Colin Firth explains a lot.

This weekend our local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America held a summer meeting that explored some of the books that are based on Austen’s works. Our little “Flash Book Club” had 16 presenters reviewing volumes both fun and scholarly. Our members did a fabulous job letting us know which books were worth purchasing and which to leave behind on the book shelf.

Here’s the list of prequels, sequels, alternate perspective P.O.V. novels, and informative books we reviewed…Books reviewed for web

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Pride and Prejudice Characters: Lizzie and Darcy

LIZZIE AND DARCY

Is there anything more delightful than a well written story of personal growth and discovery? Pride and Prejudice, Austen‘s “own darling child,” is a story of first mis-impressions that eventually resolve into true understanding, appreciation and love. The journey to that self discovery is the juiciest part of the novel. And that means that both Darcy and Lizzie must be willing to change the way they look at the world and at each other.

Jennifer Ehle is beautiful as Elizabeth  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Jennifer Ehle is beautiful as Elizabeth in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Elizabeth Bennet is a pretty, charming, intelligent, self-assured 20-year-old. She is the second eldest daughter of the Bennet family. She takes second place to sister Jane in beauty as well, but she bares it well. She has a lively, playful disposition and a good-natured impertinence that is the delight of her father and the bane of her mother.

Cropped screenshot of Greer Garson from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Greer Garson from the trailer for the film Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lizzie prides herself on being a good judge of character. But when it comes to Darcy and Wickham that is hardly the case.

Keira Knightly as Lizzie in the 2005 Movie

Keira Knightly as Lizzie in the 2005 Movie

Lizzie’s first road block of prejudice is the snub she receives from Darcy at the Assembly Room Ball. At first everyone thinks Darcy is a major catch because he’s tall, handsome and rich. But then

… his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.

It was decided that he was “He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world.” The icing on the cake is when he refuses to dance Lizzie, saying“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

Matthew MacFadyen in the 2005 movie.

Matthew MacFadyen in the 2005 movie.

Although outwardly she takes the comment in stride, and even jokes about it with her friends, from that moment on she is prejudiced against him.

Darcy was …haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well bred, were not inviting…Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared; Darcy was continually giving offence.

(It is a prejudice that Wickham easily manipulates.)

Had Darcy’s opinion of Lizzie not changed it would have been a very different book indeed. But shortly after the snub he begins to appreciate her  “fine eyes,” “light and pleasing figure,” and “easy playfulness.” He tries to shake it, but he falls completely in love with her.

Daniel Vincent Gordh and Ashley Clements tackle the proposal scene in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Daniel Vincent Gordh and Ashley Clements tackle the proposal scene in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

He swallows his pride and familial duty and offers Lizzie the second of her two horrible proposals.  Basically he tells her that he likes her against his will, against his reason, and even against his character.

She refuses him, of course — He’s separated Jane and Bingley and ruined Wickham — how could he think for a moment that she’d accept him.. She calls him on his un-gentleman-like manner then tears into him…

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it…From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, … and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

It is a life changing moment for Darcy. He writes her a letter explaining his position on the Jane / Bingley situation and on his dealings in the Wickham narrative and then he leaves Kent. But he’s also forced to face the fact that he is a snob.

Upon reading the letter Lizzie recognizes that prejudice has colored her emotions to Mr. Darcy. She begins to question her assumption of Wickham’s innocence and his guilt.

Colin Firth, the ultimate Darcy, starred  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Colin Firth, the ultimate Darcy, starred in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

At Pemberly she’s presented by a completely different Darcy. Not only does the housekeeper, Reynolds, praise her master, but Darcy actually seems to have transformed. He is kind and welcoming even to her relatives the Gardiners, who he previously thought himself above.

He completely saves the day with the Lydia / Wickham elopement, and he does it all for Lizzie.

By the time Bingley and Jane reunite both Lizzie and Darcy have come 360 in their feelings toward one another. What was once intolerable is now precious. And all was happily ended.

Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoulin in the 1980 BBC series [This one's for Joyce]

Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoulin in the 1980 BBC series [This one’s for Joyce]


Pride and Prejudice characters: Jane and Mr. Bingley

BINGLEY AND JANE

Ahhh. Jane and Bingley. Of all the characters in Pride and Prejudice these two deserve to be together — and deserve a happy ending — the most. If Austen had been a lesser writer I think Jane and Bingley would have been the main characters in the novel. Pride and Prejudice would have been a more straightforward romance of two beautiful nice people meeting, falling in love, being separated by circumstance and malevolent people, but coming together at the end and, against all odds, getting that happy ending.  Not a bad story. A charming story, no doubt, but not one, perhaps, that we’d still be re-reading 200 years later. (And one, no doubt, that would have had a different title.)

Suzannah Harker in the 1995 series.

Suzannah Harker in the 1995 series.

I have absolutely nothing critical to say about Jane. And I am sure she would have absolutely nothing bad to say about me. She is beautiful, shy, kind, reserved, humble and believes the very best in everybody. She is a most loving sister and devoted daughter. We all deserve at least one Jane Bennet in our lives. (And maybe we should all strive to be a little more Jane like — how’s that for a New Year’s resolution?)

Roamund Pike in the 2005 movie

Rosamund Pike in the 2005 movie

Bingley is a pretty wonderful guy too. Charming, handsome, rich — everything a gentleman ought to be.  He shoots, he rides and I know not what.

Crispin Bonham-Carter played Bingley  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Crispin Bonham-Carter played Bingley in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Sure, Bingley could be a tad more decisive, and have a bit more backbone. But to misquote Jessica Rabbit– he’s not wimpy, he’s just drawn that way.

Simon Woods in the 2005

Simon Woods is funny and charming in the 2005 and in Cranford. If you want to see the other side of Simon check out his performance as  Octavian Caesar in ROME.

Mr. Bennet sums up the couple towards the end of the book with…

“I have not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike. You are each of you so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income.”

Naveen Andrews and Namrata Shirod Karar as Balraj and Jaya (Bingley and Jane) in Bride and Prejudice

Naveen Andrews and Namrata Shirod Karar as Balraj and Jaya (Bingley and Jane) in Bride and Prejudice

The adorable Cristopher Sean and Laura Spencer as Bing Lee and Jane in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The adorable Cristopher Sean and Laura Spencer as Bing Lee and Jane in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

 

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Blogger’s note: Hey how are your liking these P&P character studies? Drop me a line and let me know. Tomorrow is Darcy and Lizzie and Monday — on the big anniversary we’ll discuss various adaptions of the novel. So please weigh in!

And don’t forget to send in your entry to the Jane Austen “Essay” Contest for everybody. (Deadline is also on Monday.)

Cheers, Rita


Pride and Prejudice characters: Mr. and Mrs. Bennet

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet

It is unlikely that either Mr. or Mrs. Bennet would win any parenting awards. Nor are they they a role model of a happy marriage.

Mr. Bennet is the easier to take of the two. Perhaps because Austen herself liked a witty conversationalist, she gives Mr. Bennet plenty of ironic banter. Sure, he’s got a quip for every idiotic thing that comes out of Mrs. Bennet’s mouth, and he puts down his daughters with unsettling regularity, but he’s on our girl Lizzie side of things. And when he does come out with a  snarky remark it isn’t said in a shrill scream. He’s calm — to the point of being detached. And if things get too hectic he just shuts the door to his man cave, er, I mean LIBRARY and lets the others put out the fire.

Benjamin Whitrow played Mr. Bennet in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Benjamin Whitrow played Mr. Bennet in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Mrs. Bennet on the other hand is constantly in emergency mode. She’s over excited about everything… from the arrival of the militia in Meryton to Jane’s budding romance. Her mood swings are so intense that she’s either quite shallow or bipolar. If Mr. Bennet is disengaged from his daughter’s lives (specifically the part of his daughter’s lives that involves them getting a husband) she is hyper involved. And while Mr. Bennet hides in his library, Mrs. Bennet prefers to take center stage. In case of emergency she succumbs to her palpitations and flutterings and retires to her lounge to be waited on hand and foot.

Both of them play favorites while neglecting to educate their daughters and have chosen an economic course that requires the girls to marry well or face lives of genteel poverty which their upbringings have made them entirely unprepared for.” [ Story and History; A guide to Everything Jane Austen ]

Mr. Bennet favor’s Lizzie with her sharp tongue and sense of irony. He has a soft spot for Jane who is so sweet he has a hard time finding anything negative about her. But by the time we get to Mary his patience wears thin. He makes fun of her zealous nature and doesn’t support her earnest attempts to exhibit. He has all but given up on Kitty and Lydia  and calls them the two silliest girls in the country.

Alison Steadman is Mrs. Bennet  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Alison Steadman is Mrs. Bennet in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Mrs. Bennet admires Jane’s beauty and good nature, but she really dotes on Lydia (her twin in temperament and love of all things in a Red Coat.) Her second daughter is a source of anxiety for her– especially when she refuse a perfectly good offer of marriage from Mr. Collins.

Austen describes the couple at the end of the first chapter…

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develope. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.

They married young. Mr. Bennet…

captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had, very early in their marriage, put an end to all real affection for her. Respect, esteem, and confidence had vanished for ever; and all his views of domestic happiness were overthrown. … To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement.

The novel is almost as much about economics as it is about love. Longbourn, the Bennet’s family estate is entailed away to the nearest male heir upon the untimely demise of Mr. Bennet.

When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be perfectly useless; for, of course, they were to have a son. This son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as he should be of age, and the widow and younger children would by that means be provided for.

But they didn’t have a son, so Mr. Collins is set to inherit the estate.

Donald Southerland in the 2005 Movie

Donald Southerland in the 2005 Movie

Even if they HAD had a son there’s no guarantee that  Junior would have agreed to end the entail. He could have wound up like John Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility and turned his back on his family financially. Given the hands off attitude the Bennets employed with their children’s education Junior could have been as feckless and week minded as Lydia. I doubt that the estate could have survived long in that case.  A son would not have necessarily solved the problem. Better if the Bennets had economized through the years.

English: C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895...

English: C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 13 ): “Why, Jane — you never dropt a word of this; you sly thing! ” Français : C. E. Brock illustration pour l’édition C. E. Brock illustration pour l’édition 1895 du roman de Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice (Chapitre 13) Mrs Bennet est sûre que Bingley vient diner (alors qu’il s’agit de Mr Collins) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Better yet if the girls were better educated. If the girls  were really to be “marriage market” ready they should have had a governess or some one who insisted they learn to drawl (one of Caroline/Darcy’s requirements for a refined lady) read the classics, learn foreign languages, dance and play an instrument.  Only two of them can play an instrument, and they don’t play all that well.

Brenda Blethyn in the 2005 movie

Brenda Blethyn in the 2005 movie

Given the economic uncertainty for the girls Mrs. Bennet should have at least prepared them with a more domestic education. At dinner when Mr. Collins wants to compliment which ever of his fair cousins has prepared the meal, Mrs. Bennet informs him that they keep a cook, “and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen.” But maybe the girls should learn a little about cooking. Not to go into service but to be able to run their own kitchen as Lydia certainly will have to. Lady Catherine brags at finding a  governess position for some young ladies she knows. That’s another profession the girls could be readying for.
But neither parent seems at all interested in pushing them toward preparing for the future beyond winning the husband lottery.

Still, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet add a lot of humor to the novel (even if it is self/co inflicted.) And, given that I’ve been known to be sarcastic and I’m a lot closer to their age then Lizzie or Jane’s age I’ve got a soft spot for them. Perhaps they wont win Parent of the Year, 1813, but the novel just wouldn’t be the same with out them.


Pride and Prejudice Characters: Lydia and Wickham

Today is the third installment in a week’s worth of Pride and Prejudice character studies leading up to next Monday’s 200th anniversary of the Austen novel.
 
Lydia and Wickham

Was there ever a sillier, more insipid, selfish little sister than Lydia Bennet? One would need a thesaurus to accurately describe how crass she is… if Austen hadn’t painted such a wonderful picture for us.

On the kind side of the Lydia spectrum I could say she had an exuberant spirit. From there the rainbow of Lydia character trait runs from “Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled!” to selfish, reckless, and just a little bit mean. (Though she’s got nothing on Caroline Bingley in the Mean Girl department.)

Jena Malon took on the Lydia role for the 2005 movie

Jena Malon took on the Lydia role for the 2005 movie

Although Jane and Lizzie attempt to “check the imprudence” of Kitty and Lydia their efforts have little effect. The girls are indulged by their mother but are …

“always affronted by their advice… Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely give them a hearing….”

Lydia has no filter. She says what ever thought floats across her vapid mind, no matter how rude or inappropriate it might be.

Julia Sawalha in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice [Image courtesy BBC Home]

Julia Sawalha in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice [Image courtesy BBC Home]

“Lord” she tells Jane, “how ashamed I should be of not being married before three and twenty!” Likewise she does what ever she wants without regard for decorum or consequence.

Mary Kate Wiles embodies the 2012/13 party girl Lydia in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries VLOG [Image courtesy @TheLydiaBennett Twitter page]

Mary Kate Wiles embodies the 2012/13 party girl Lydia in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries VLOG [Image courtesy @TheLydiaBennett Twitter page]

She is…

“the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous. A flirt, too, in the worst and meanest degree of flirtation; without any attraction beyond youth and a tolerable person; and from the ignorance and emptiness of her mind, wholly unable to ward off any portion of that universal contempt which her rage for admiration will excite.”

Lizzie warns their father not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton, but Mr. Bennet, knows that there will be no peace at home if he doesn’t concede. He justifies the decision by saying…

“Colonel Forester is a sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to be an object of prey to any body. At Brighton she will be of less importance, even as a common flirt, than she has been here. The officers will find women better worth their notice. Let us hope, therefore, that her being there may teach her her own insignificance. At any rate, she cannot grow many degrees worse without authorizing us to lock her up for the rest of her life.”

Lydia, of course, does not disappoint. She manages to do the least appropriate thing possible… she runs off, unmarried with a man. That man is George Wickham and it takes some doing to get the couple to the altar.

A triumphant Lydia returns home with her husband in the 1940 movie. With Ann Rutherford (Lydia), Edward Ashley (Wickham), Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane), and Greer Garson (Lizzie).

A triumphant Lydia returns home with her husband in the 1940 movie. With Ann Rutherford (Lydia), Edward Ashley (Wickham), Maureen O’Sullivan (Jane), and Greer Garson (Lizzie).

When they return to Longbourn …

“Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister, demanding their congratulations…”

She even insists that Jane take walk behind her as she is a married woman now, and therefore holds a higher rank.

Peeya Rai Chowdhury and Daniel Gilles as Lakhi Bakshi (Lydia) and George in Bride and Prejudice

Peeya Rai Chowdhury and Daniel Gilles as Lakhi Bakshi (Lydia) and George in Bride and Prejudice

“I find Lydia to be tiresome” says Austen fan Mary Baldauf Wiedel, “and Wickham is a true cad.” She adds that the two are ”fairly unlikable characters, although no one deserves to be with Wickham.”

Sometimes when I’m rereading the novel* or am watching one of the adaptations I try to remember back to my original impressions of Wickham. Was I suspicious? Did I like his easy manner and winning smile as much as the ladies of Longbourn? Or did I know right away that he was trouble?

Adrian Lukis as Wickham in the 1995 series.

Adrian Lukis as Wickham in the 1995 series.

Not even Lizzie gets an accurate bead on Wickham’s character at first. She spends about a third of the book enjoying his company and listening to his poisonous tales about Darcy.

George Wickham is handsome. He has “a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address.” An officer in the militia, Wickham makes quite a dashing figure in his regimentals. But Lizzie observes that he has something more in his “person, countenance, air, and walk” than this companions. And he could make the “commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic” interesting.

Rupert Friend in the 2005 Movie [Image courtesy: AustenAuthors.net]

Rupert Friend in the 2005 Movie [Image courtesy: AustenAuthors.net]

He may not be rich, but, as he explains, that is not his fault. Its Darcy’s. Darcy has cruelly denied Wickham the church living promised to him. So now he must make his way as an “honest” soldier.

In reality he’s a gambler, a womanizer, a slacker and a liar. He uses his good looks and his social ease to manipulate people. He even manipulates Lizzie, who is usually a keen judge of character, into taking his side against Darcy. He leaves a trail of debt and broken hearts where ever he goes.

Wes Aderhold updates Wickham in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Wes Aderhold updates Wickham in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

So why does Wickham elope with Lydia? For her part it is probably a romantic lark, an adventure. She seldom looks past the moment and he is fulfilling her immediate needs. But what does she have to offer him? Not money. Not status. Not love. My guess is that he initially does it as a lark too. Lydia is pretty and is certainly willing to run away with him. He can always leave her when he gets tired of the situation and travel to another country to find a rich wife. But, then he realizes that he can make a little money off this deal. When Darcy finds them he realizes he’s hit pay dirt. If Darcy cares enough to come looking for Lydia he’ll care enough to pay Wickham’s gambling debts and pay his overdue tavern bills and more.. All he has to do is marry one of the silliest girls in the country.

Ahhh marital bliss. [Image courtesy BBC]

Ahhh marital bliss. [Image courtesy BBC]

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* for the record… I am not in a CONSTANT state of rereading one or the other of Ms. Austen’s novels. I just thought you should know.

The LY-Di-A Bennet  on Lizzie Bennet Diaries has her own VLOG. Here’s a taste:


Pride and Prejudice Characters : Mary and Kitty

Today we start a week’s worth of Pride and Prejudice character studies in anticipation of next Monday’s 200th anniversary of the Austen novel.

Mary & Kitty 1

If you are reading this I doubt that I’m giving anything away by saying that at the end of Pride and Prejudice  three out of the five sisters are married. Two, Mary and Kitty, remain at unwed.

No surprise there. Mary and Kitty are practically throw away daughters in the Bennet household. When Austen introduces the family in Chapter One we find out that Lizzie, the clever one, is Mr. Bennet’s favorite, that Jane is the pretty one and that Lydia is the good-humoured one.

The remaining girls finally get a mention in Chapter Two. Poor Kitty has the misfortune of coughing when Mrs. Bennet is in need of something to be vexed at. A little later when  Mr. Bennet introduces Mary as “a young lady of deep reflection he is not giving her a compliment. He’s asked Mary a question and before she can frame a sensible answer — and God forbid she not give him a sensible answer — he cuts her off with “While Mary is adjusting her ideas… let us return to Mr. Bingley.”

Polly Maberly was Kitty in  the Colin Firth / Jennifer Ehle version of P&P

Polly Maberly was Kitty in the Colin Firth / Jennifer Ehle version of P&P

Mary is bookish and plain. ”I should infinitely prefer a book.”  She applies herself to the piano — she’s the only sister who practices — but doesn’t have much in the way of natural talent. She reads moral books and sermons but only seems to pull the harshest lessons from them. So when Lizzie mentions “Pride” Mary has this  little reflection on the subject…

“Pride… is a very common failing… human nature is very prone to it… Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud with out being vain. Pride relates more tour opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” With pompous homilies like that Mary is hard to take.” [Pride and Prejudice]

Still, why does Austen paint Mary as such a looser? She fits the model of what a Regency young lady should be better than any of her sisters after all. … she’s highly moral, she’s willing to exhibit her talents, and she’s demure in social situations. The poor girl can’t help that she’s awkward and unattractive.

Talulah Riley played Mary in the Kiera Knightly version

Talulah Riley played Mary in the Kiera Knightly version

Maybe Austen needs a foil for her more likable, more interesting characters — and until Mr. Collins comes along that foil is Mary. But scratch deeper and perhaps Austen, the genius and keen social observer, is reflecting a little bit of the human dynamic. Doesn’t every large family have its small jealousies and regrets. Here is the middle daughter feeling overwhelmed by her older sisters’ beauty and wit, and over shadowed by her younger sisters’ vivacity and love of life. Mary isn’t the last middle sister to feel like she was drowning in a vortex of better, cuter, funnier siblings. No wonder she strikes a chord of sympathy and kinship with so many readers.

Briana Cuoco plays Mary in The LIzzie Bennet Diaries video blog.

Briana Cuoco plays Mary in The LIzzie Bennet Diaries video blog.

We know at the end of the novel that Mary stays at home, but she is “Obliged to mix more with the world”. Since she is “no longer mortified by comparisons between her sisters’ beauty and her own” her self worth improves and she becomes generally easier company.

 

CatherineBennet2

Polly Maberly as Kitty in the Colin Firth / Jennifer Ehle version

Mrs. Bennet dotes on her youngest, Lydia. And Lydia, spoiled beyond redemption, has grown up wild and unrestrained. Kitty, no doubt, sees what her younger sister gets away with, and, in an attempt to earn some of her mother’s admiration and love joins in on the flightiness. Her father thinks even less of Kitty than he does of Mary. He is happy to lump her together with Lydia. [Indeed, the Lydia/Kitty “lump” is so strong that Kitty is usually the first Bennet sister cut from an adaptation as unnecessary.]

Carey Mulligan was Kitty in the Kiera Knightly version

Carey Mulligan was Kitty in the Kiera Knightly version

Kitty feels keenly the injustice of Lydia’s being invited to Brighton as Mrs. Foster’s particular friend. Kitty is two years older and Lydia has, once again, jumped rank. What’s worse when Lydia runs off with Wickham it seems Kitty is the one who bears the brunt of the punishment. Lydia has escaped with her Redcoat. But Kitty has to put up with her father’s wrath…

“YOU go to Brighton. I would not trust you so near it as Eastbourne for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it….” [Ibid]

At the end of the novel we learn that

“Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters. In society so superior to what she had generally known, her improvement was great.” [Ibid]

With out Lydia (or Mrs. Bennet) around to influence her she becomes “less irritable, less ignorant and less insipid.”

Austen’s nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s book A Memoir of Jane Austen (1870) gave further details on how the Author envisioned life for Mary and Kitty post novel. He wrote that “She would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some of her people.” Kitty was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley. While Mary obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philip’s clerks.

Kitty is played by an actual kitty in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. She has her own Twitter account.

Kitty is played by an actual kitty in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. She has her own Twitter account.


My Darcy Weekend

As you may recall from Will (and Jane) This Summer in B’more (June 6) THIS past Friday, Saturday and Sunday was Regency Weekend at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC).  The acting troupe put on Christina Calvit’s adaptation of  Jane Austen’s delightful Pride and Prejudice.  The Jane Austen Society of North America: Maryland Chapter (JASNA:MD) joined forces with CSC on Sunday for our Summer meeting, and I came by with some family and friends on Saturday to help with a Game Tent and to drum up some interest in JASNA.

SATURDAY:

My lovely daughter Maggie, my sister Margie, my husband Bill and I headed to Ellicott City’s Patapsco Female Institute (the stabilized ruins of an old girls school that is now an open air theatre and part of the Howard County Park System) where we met our friends  Lynn Reynolds, Chris and Matt. There  we split up to handle Game Duties and the JASNA recruitment table.

I created the Jane Game while working with a graphic design student. It was a side-by-side project and our goal was to create a board game that we would want to play. It is a trivia game based on the novels of Jane Austen and comes with a laminated or cloth playing board, 100 cards on Pride and Prejudice, glass game pieces and a draw string bag. If you are interested in securing your very own game send me a message.

At the Game Tent we set up The JANE GAME a trivia game based on Pride and Prejudice and Austen BINGO.

WoMANning the JASNA table. (Photo courtesy of Kim Rock)

Over at the JASNA info table we had registration forms and some fun Austen inspired gear. JASNA is a terrific organization dedicated to the appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing. The over 4,000 members in JASNA (US and Canada) enjoy reading and discussing Austen’s books, learning more about the things Jane liked to do, and exploring the world that influenced her writing. Membership is open to every one interested in the life and works of Jane Austen and includes: a subscription to JASNA News; JASNA’s literary journal — Persuasions; an invitation to the Annual General Meeting; An invitation to join one or more local chapter — like  JASNA: MD ; and participation in members-only tours of Austen sites.  Membership is only $30.00 per year (for individual members.)

We got to talk to some lovely people (first from the cast, then  from the audience) and then we got to see the play.

Mr. Darcy observes Caroline and Lizzy in a scene from Pride and Prejudice (running now through the end of July at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.)

As you may have already figured  out, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan (I’ve created a board  game based on her books and I’ve got my own Regency dress, for heavens sake!)  So I was primed and ready for this stage play of P&P.

And I’m happy to say it was universally charming! Happy thought INDEED!

The pre-show panel “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment” with Rachael Jacobs, Karen Stakem Hornig, Mark Turner, Jana Stambaugh and moderator, Polly Bart.

SUNDAY:

JASNA:MD worked with CSC to pull together a special treat for Sunday’s audience, a pre-show panel discussion on “Kitty and Lydia: Mischief and Merriment.” Polly Bart, JASNA:MD’s Programming Chair, co-ordinated the event for the group and acted as the moderator for the panel. She brought together the actresses who play Kitty and Lydia, Jana Stambaugh and Rachael Jacobs, with JASNA members Mark Turner and Karen Stakem Hornig.

Kitty and Lydia on stage.

The actresses spoke on the joys and challenges of bringing their 200 year old characters from the page to the stage. Turner, who is known for delighting JASNA members with his mind tickling Austen era Charades, took over with “Kitty and Lydia: Their Roles and Relationships” (aka “The Case of the Ugly Bonnet”)

Hornig holds up her favorite film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Hornig presented “Kitty and Lydia as Character Types in Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.” (Note the image of Colin Firth on the cover the Collector’s Edition of the DVD.)

Photo courtesy Kim Rock

My friend Kim helped me at the JASNA registration/info table on Sunday. We met some wonderful Jane fans who were interested in learning about the organization, as well as tons of lovely current JASNA members stopped by to say hello!

Jane and Lizzie share a sisterly moment in Act One.

I enjoyed the show even more on Sunday. (All the stage shots in this blog are from Sunday’s performance — you aren’t allowed to use a  flash, but since the Sunday show starts two hours earlier… I could shoot with out a flash.)

Sadly I don’t have any photos of Jose Guzman as Mr. Collins. He was hilarious as the sycophant clergyman. Jonas David Grey (Mr. Bennet) and James Jager (Mr. Bingley) were also very funny. Blythe Coons (Lizzy) and Adam Sheaffer (Mr. Darcy) gave more subtle, but equally delicious performances. I particularly like how the audience on Sunday was cheering for Jana Stambaugh — after her pre-show talk about how she, Kitty,  was the “Jan” of the Bennet family, she definitely had us in her corner.

This just in: Thanks to Kim Rock, we now have a picture showing Mr. Collins! (fourth from the right).

Although my weekend with Mr. Darcy, Lizzy and the rest of the Pride and Prejudice cast is over I hope that you will take the opportunity to visit Chesapeake Shakespeare Company this summer and catch this charming adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic.

Pride and Prejudice runs in repertoire with Romeo and Juliet until July 29th.

Cheers! Rita


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