Persuasion Opening

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:36 pm by janeaustenfilm


paper topic!

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:39 pm by janeaustenfilm

Ok, don’t laugh…here is my semblance of an argument…any help/thoughts would do. I’ll look forward to that article in my mailbox tomorrow!!!:)

This paper will discuss the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion and the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in regards to Virginia Woolf’s essays A Room of One’s Own and “The Cinema.”

This paper will argue that certain scenes from both the 1995 Persuasion and the 2005 Pride and Prejudice use emotional and physical space to portray post-feminist nostalgic ideals that belong to the late 20th and early 21st centuries instead of the early 19th. As discussed in Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own, women need space and money in order to write and think. In Austen’s novels, each heroine enjoys reading and thinking, but is physically and emotionally confined through their sex and lack of wealth. In order to “free” them emotionally and phsically in the adaptations, directors and screen-writers use physical space as a vehicle to portray their post-feminist concerns, which invokes a certain nostalgia for the viewer.



Posted in Uncategorized at 5:42 am by janeaustenfilm

In her article “Post-Feminism and Popular Culture,” Angela McRobbie defines post-feminism as “an active process by which feminist gains of the 1970’s and 80’s come to be undermined…[and] elements of contemporary popular culture are perniciously effective in regard to this undoing of feminism, while simultaneously appearing to be engaging in a well-informed and even well-intended response to feminism”(255). She argues that this is accomplished through the false belief that feminist goals have already been achieved, rendering feminism obsolete. McRobbie points to 1990 as a turning point in feminist theory where, “there is a shift away from feminist interest in centralized power blocks…[where] the body and also the subject come to represent a focal point for feminist interest” (256). It was also the period in which feminism achieved popular representation and expression. McRobbie identifies Bridget Jones’ Diary as a “more gentle denunciation of feminism” (257), but nevertheless, believes the film has contributed greatly to the fact that “feminist effectivity…has [been] cast out, entombed for social organization to once again become intelligible” (258). Today, McRobbie bots, the media is the primary source for defining the rules of sexual conduct. McRobbie believes, as a result, “a specter of feminism in invoked so that it might be undone; for male viewers tradition is restored or as Beck puts it there is ‘constructed certitude, while for the girls what is proposed is a movement beyond feminism, to a more comfortable zone where women are now free to choose for themselves” (259). McRobbie then briefly discusses the idea of female individualism in the theories of Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim, Zygmunt Bauman, and Nikolas Rose before moving to a discussion of Bridget Jones. McRobbie believes “Bridget portrays the whole spectrum of attributes associated with the self-monitoring subject; she confides in her friends, she keeps a diary, she endlessly reflects on her fluctuating weight, noting her calorie intake, she plans, plots, and has projects. She is also deeply uncertain as to what the future holds for her” (261). McRobbie reads the scene where Bridget fantasizes about her wedding to Daniel Cleaver as Bridget fantasizing about tradition as a result of “the burden of self-management so apparent” (262).

This article confused me quite a bit, mostly because I believe the author contradicted herself throughout the article. Its pretty short, and interesting, so if someone else would like to read it and let me know what they think, I’d really appreciate it!

The Edge of Reason

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:42 am by janeaustenfilm

In their article “The Edge of Reason: the Myth of Bridget Jones,” Stephen Maddison and Merl Starr state that because so many women, indeed, people in general, identify Bridget Jones “is far more than the patron saint of single women: she is everyman, or rather, everyperson. She is the most enchanting heroine for the millennium” (4). Yet Maddison and Star believe she is “a symbol of conservatism, neo-liberalism and post-feminism” (4). In fact, Maddison and Star believe “the effect of the comedy in these texts is rather more insidious than progressive” (5). Maddison and Star focus on “three predominant sites of recognition” (5). The first is Bridget viewed as a “neurotic sex symbol,” second is Bridget as a white goddess, and the third figures into the entire discussion as the author’s examine the way class functions throughout the novels.

First, Bridget’s ditziness is the predominate quality of her character, and it is this quality, that renders her attractive; Maddison and Star refer to this quality as a “Neurotic Sex Symbol” (6). In the case of Bridget, the “lack of control and the irrationality it underwrites will become unproblematic with the consummation of heterosexual romance” (6). They read Bridget’s friends as functioning “not only to offer the pleasures of female bonding which mitigate[s] their ‘man trouble’ with shopping sprees and bouts of boozing, but to naturalize and normalize Bridget” (6). They point out that “despite the first person confessional idiom of both novels, there are numerous instances in which Bridget shares information with her diary where Fielding is offering us insight unavailable to Bridget herself” (7). This knowledge situates the reader in a position where they feel protective or sympathetic to Bridget’s character. But in fact, Bridget’s naiveté works in advantage for her where he “detailed knowledge of the TV game show Blind Date makes her far more attractive to the hero, for whom the women talking about high culture are pretentious and undesirable” (7). Maddison and Star also examine the role of Bridget’s gay friend Tom, who becomes much more marginalized in the Edge of Reason, so much so that they believe the novel is homophobic. This homophobia “prevents Bridget’s continual ‘dating hell’ from turning heterosexuality itself into a problematic category” (9).

Secondly, Bridget is viewed as a white goddess. Maddison and Star point out that in the 19th century “while women in particular, especially those of more ‘refined’ classes, were regarded as prone to collapse under the strain of modern living, particularly the strain of romantic emotions and relationships” (9). Bridget’s whiteness comes into sharp relief when paired with both novels’ depiction of “funny foreigners.” In fact, Maddison and Star notice, “Bridget and her white friends have no interactions with black or other minority ethnic British people at all” (10). While Julio is Latino, he “highlights the white masculinity of the hero Mark Darcy, who at the climax of the novel reveals, in a ‘thrillingly authoritative’ manner, that Julio is a con man” (10).

Maddison and Star conclude their discussion of Bridget by observing “the cultural and emotional landscape presented in the diaries is intensely conservative in terms of gender, race and class” (13). They believe “Bridget’s ‘cries’ are entirely neurotic rather than material; nothing happens, from losing her job to taking out a second mortgage she cannot afford, ever has any permanent consequences in the material sphere” (13). They also believe what makes the texts of Bridget Jones neo-liberal because they “abstract ‘the individual’ from social and cultural power relations, and treat all problems as individual and emotional rather than as social and structural” (14).


Books, Bras, and Bridget Jones

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:56 am by marycarolyn

In her article “Books, Bras and Bridget Jones: Reading Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice,” Olivia Murphy examines the different adaptations of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, particularly focusing on the 1995 BBC adaptation which “brought new readers to Austen’s best-known novel, readers who, for the most part, read outside of any academic context” (21). For Murphy, the 1995 BBC production “operates as a ficto-critical interpretation of the primary text, dramatizing the choices mad in every reading even while offering itself as a faithful re-presentation of the 1813 novel. Throughout the article, Murphy pays special attention to the readings and cultural perception of the mini-series, which she believes “must influence readers and reading of Pride and Prejudice for years to come” (23). Murphy looks at some of the immediate “Austen-mania” that surrounded the film upon its release, such as the Berlie bra company’s claim they provided the bras for Jennifer Ehle. But, in Murphy’s eyes, this heightened sense of sexuality in the mini-series “successfully contradicted the popular image of Austen as a prudish spinster, reasserting Pride and Prejudice’s erotic content above all else…[and] the manner in which that eroticism was communicated carries important implications for our understanding of the adaptation’s reading of Austen’s text and for its won internal ethical orientation” (24).

Murphy address the director and screenwriter’s decision to move many of Austen’s scenes from public spaces to the privacy of the bedroom, which allowed the actors to be depicted dressing and undressing. Shifting setting to allow actors to appear undressed appears in many adaptations in which Andrew Davies served as screenwriter and serves “as a way of hinting at sex where it does not feature in the original novel or cannot be portrayed due to censorship classifications. It also works to make characters more appealing to the audience: see without any protective layer of outdoor clothing, they seem vulnerable, more accessible to us” (25). But Murphy notes this sets up a double standard in which women are objectified and men are empowered. When Elizabeth and Jane appear dressing or undressed, they are discussing their need to marry well, emphasizing their poverty; the mirrors that inevitably surround them in these scenes reinforce the idea that their looks will secure them a man. On the other than, “Darcy’s semi-nakedness, occurring in the context of panoramic shots of his enormous house as his horse is led away by another of his servants, only serves to exaggerate his virtues,” not to mention his power (25).

Murphy also refers to the depiction of Darcy throughout the second-half of the film; the novel does not refer to Darcy from the time he leaves Elizabeth until Lydia’s return to Longbourn. For Murphy, “these extra scenes place the viewer at the apex of the adaptation’s hierarchy of knowledge. As they are able to see the actions of both Darcy and Elizabeth, viewers have an understanding of events and character that exceeds that of any reader of the novel. These changes render Elizabeth less knowledgeable than the viewer about events in the adaptation’s plot that concern her, thereby lessening her intelligence to that of the viewer” (27).

Like many Austen scholars, Murphy examines the film’s interpretation of Austen’s narrating voice, which she believes is impossible to recreate in the film as the many possible interpretations of nearly each sentence would make the film impossible and unpleasant to follow. Murphy believes “it is this very legibility that makes the film pleasurable to watch” (29). Murphy thinks Bridget Jones’ Diary suggests “that viewers of the BBC Pride and Prejudice attempt to reclaim the ironic possibilities of Austen’s original by analyzing their own reactions of the film” (30). These themes are lived out in Bridget’s life as “not only her response…but her emotional incorporation of its romantic themes – is tested by her responses to ‘real’ life” (30). In fact, Murphy observes that, “for the most part Bridget successfully and self-critically maintains a tension between the pleasurable fantasies of faux Austenian romance and the somewhat harsher realities of modern existence” (31). Yet Murphy also believes these themes and sense of irony is lost in the film adaptation in which Bridget “becomes…a target of buffoonery, the accident-prone butt of mainly slapstick comedy that renders her a far stupider, more credulous creature, with whom audiences can no longer comfortably identify, but only laugh at” (31). Murphy believes this comes from a diminishing or complete elision of the political themes and undertones of the novel, and applies this same idea to the BBC mini-series. Murphy concludes her article saying the “too light and bright and sparkling tone of the novel diverts attention from its real political tendencies, just as the beautiful costumes, sets, actors and music of the adaptation divert our attention from…its troubling lack of politically conscious meaning” (35).


On Bridget Jones and Ally McBeal

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:35 pm by janeaustenfilm

<b>NOTE:</b> In my summary, I will primarily focus on the elements of the article that deal directly with <i>Bridget Jones’ Diary</i>, referring only to <i>Ally McBeal</i> when the discussion seems applicable to Fielding’s novel as well.         




            In her essay “A Truth Universally (Un)Acknowledged: <i>Ally McBeal<i>, <i>Bridget Jones’ Diary</i> and the Conflict between Romantic Love and Feminism,” Jessica Lyn Van Slooten examines her personal conflict between feminism and romanticism, as displayed in the television show <i>Ally McBeal</i> and the  novels and films <i>Bridget Jones’ Diary</i>. Van Slooten believes the two, far from being ditzy women who are only concerned with finding men, “navigate the conflicts between the myths of both romantic love and feminism” (37). Van Slooten criticizes the media fro failing to recognize or trivializing the two’s exploration or larger social issues. Van Slooten briefly looks at the definition and function of romance in modern society, seeing romance texts as a consolation for unrequited love. She also sees them as “a way for women temporarily to meet those [romantic] needs while not settling for a love less than what they truly desire. These ideas are expressed most evidently in the film when Bridget fantasizes about marrying Daniel Cleaver. Far from reading Bridget as a pathetic character deserving the reader’s sympathy, Van Slooten sees her as a strong, independent woman with a successful career, friends, and, measured by conventional standards, a successful life. While she may be troubled in love, Bridget “want[s] an extraordinary man who will be [her] equal and [her] ‘top person’…ultimately refus[ing] to settle for [a man] who does not embody the right characteristics” (40).

            Next, Van Slooten looks at feminist responses to <i>Bridget Jones</i>, noting that many of these responses are characterized by a “disjunction between academic feminism’s ideology and the lived realities of most women” (41). She criticizes two critics in particular, Phyllis Chelser and Gina Bellafonte, for insinuating that romance should not be a concern of a “serious-minded” feminist, that only serious political issues should be the concerns of such women. Yet Van Slooten argues that Bridget touches on “these ‘deeper’ political issues via the world of comic fantasy, urging readers to think of the greater implications of short skirts in the workplace” (41). Van Slooten cites the text of <i>Bridget Jones</i> as a way for women to talk and think about the differences in cultural messages to women. She cites a passage from the novel where Mark asks Bridget if she has read any good books recently. Not wanting to admit she’s actually reading <i>Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus</i>, Bridget claims she has read the feminist text <i>Backlash</i>. To her surprise, Mark has read the book as well. For Van Slooten, this passage allows Fielding to insert her own critique of the novel’s message, that feminism dismisses women’s romantic anxiety, thus forcing women to turn to a “seemingly sympathetic but ultimately anti-feminist alternative” (43). While feminists may claim they shouldn’t be concerned with fictional characters, Van Slooten argues they ought to be considered, as they are “both a creation of culture and create culture” (43).

            Van Slooten notes some of the characteristics of Bridget’s life, particularly her optimism in the face of her declining fertility, “decreasing desirability, and inevitable aging in a youth obsessed culture” (44). Despite this, Bridget is characterized by her lack of self-confidence and poise; yet, it is these characteristics, her less-than-perfect self, that captures the attentions of Mark Darcy. Van Slooten doesn’t want the reader to loose sight of Bridget’s social and self-knowledge. Even though Bridget dates and fantasies about Daniel Cleaver, the readers know Bridget realizes he is the culmination of all the characteristics she hates in men. Bridget comes back from her break-up with Daniel by finding a new job that better suits her personality and seriously focuses her and launches her into a better career. So, while Bridget desires the romantic dream, she does not “sacrifice other aspects of [her] life to that dream” (48).

            Finally, Van Slooten looks at romantic endings. Many romantic plots end in marriage, yet <i>Bridget Jones’ Diary</i> does not force its heroine to leave a successful (or growing career) for marriage. For Van Slooten, this “more ambiguous ending suggest[s] that marriage does not always ensure from contemporary romance texts” (49). Van Slooten finds this ending much more satisfying as Bridget can be simultaneously successful in romance and in her job. She looks at the endings of both novels and the first film; after the second novel, Bridget is preparing to go to Thailand with Mark, yet her newly established career as a freelance journalist allows her to still actively pursue her dream and continue working. In the first film, Mark turns down a lucrative position in New York to return to London and his old firm to pursue Bridget. Finally, Van Slooten observes that Mark buys Bridget a new diary at the end of the film, allowing her to write herself, and in essence, create her own identity.



I really enjoyed this article, particularly the way it addressed the criticism the film received from feminists. While the article was on both Bridget and <i>Ally McBeal,</i> I found it contained a good amount of material that is pertinent to what I’d like to write about for my final paper. I do, however, wish Van Slooten had looked at some more of the social themes that run through the novels and film. I found her statement about Bridget’s ability to write herself in her diary particularly interesting. We see this in <i>Clueless</i>, where Cher is given a voice, and, unlike any of Austen’s heroines, is allowed to define and construct herself. I think this would be an interesting theme to look at as a modern retelling of Austen’s novels. However, in reading some articles for a paper grounded in 18th century literature, I’ve found that the creation of self, or the discovering of identity, was believed to lie in self-examination through writing and reading. This might be an interesting theme to tie Austen and Bridget closer together. I also appreciated Van Slooten’s emphasis on the culture expectations that plague Bridget, as they tie her and Elizabeth closer together for me. Elizabeth had to face her increasing age, and, as result, declining marriage prospects, as well as the expectation that she needed to marry and marry well to help provide for her family. As Van Slooten points out, similar issues follow Bridget. She must come to terms with her decreasing chances of having children, and like Elizabeth, her decreasing desirability to marriageable men, and her increasing age. While similar issues plague both women, their social manifestations make them appear much different. I would most definitely use this article for my paper.


Virginia Woolf

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:18 am by janeaustenfilm

Hey this is Leah–I’m trying to find Virginia Woolf’s essay, “The Cinema.”  I can’t find it on MLB…any suggestions?

Time and Emotion

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:51 am by janeaustenfilm

A few weeks ago in my Film. Text, and Culture class, Dr. Campbell talked to us about filmmakers using cuts to reflect or convey the emotion of the scene. To demonstrate, he had several charts that showed the number of cuts in a scene and the time between each cut. To compare to the novel the film was based on, he counted the number of words in a sentence. I thought it was a pretty interesting idea, and I wanted to apply it the Pride and Prejudice adaptations, partly to see how well the mimicked Austen’s pattern and sense of emotion. I chose to look at the first proposal scene; in Bridget Jones’ Diary I decided this was the “I like you just as you are” scene.

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice(1995)

Pride and Prejudice(2005)

Bridget Jones’ Diary

Sorry they’re a little on the big side! I did my best to resize them, and you couldn’t see them if they were thumbnail size.

What I think is interesting is that all the films hit a low point around the same time Asuten does. Also, Bridget Jones’ Diary matches up best with the 1995 P and P, which makes sense because the novel was based on the film, or dealt heavily with the film. Does anyone else notice any similarities?


essay contest

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:44 pm by janeaustenfilm

I was poking around the Jane Austen Society website, and I found an essay contest which we might be interested in…if we have time (haha). Anyway, here is the link:




“Of Windows and Country Walks”

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:39 pm by janeaustenfilm

Pidduck, Julianne. “Of Windows and Country Walks.” The Postcolonial Jane Austen. Park, You-me and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, eds. Routledge: New York, 2000.

(review by Leah)

In her article, “Of Windows and Country Walks,” Julianne Pidduck discusses women, windows and space in most of the 1990s Austen adaptations. Pidduck writes that “the recurring moment of the woman at the window captures a particular quality of feminine stillness, constraint, and longing that runs through 1990s film and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels (116). In order to support her claims, Pidduck analyzes several scenes from most of the 1990s adaptations; however, for this review I will focus on Persuasion. Pidduck writes that the

“1990s adaptations refigure Austen’s characters and situations through a contemporary liberal feminist sensibility. These works highlight the precariousness of their heroine’s situations through their exclusion from property ownership; the romance’s desiring narrative tug towards heterosexual courtship and marriage is inextricable from historical property relations. In this sense, the gaze from the window may also be read as acquisitive” (118).

Pidduck asserts that the 1990s adaptations explicitly highlight male and female relationships in the early nineteenth-century through window and property shots.

Pidduck writes that in 1995’s Persuasion, “the woman at the window encapsulates a gendered ‘structure of feeling’ at work in Austen and in costume generally—a generic spatiotemporal economy of physical and sexual constraint, a sumptuous waiting barely papering over a baroque yet attenuated register of longing” (117). In doing so, the film presents the viewer with a unique set of questions concerning gender power-relations and colonialism (117). In conjunction with this, the casting of stereotypical attractive males enhances the ownership over females in the adaptations (117).

Pidduck discusses this trend in films such as the 1990s Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and argues that in Persuasion, “the possibilities of the sea and travel as escapes from the traps of conventional English bourgeois morality are prominent” (129). Indeed, the films scene in which Anne Elliot searches the streets of Bath for Captain Wentworth illustrates Pidduck’s ideas, as she asserts in her article (129). Anne is trapped in her house, restrained from being able to go to Captain Wentworth as he roams the town at his leisure. Pidduck writes that this scene “conveys a profound sense of the physical and social constraint of a certain feminine experience” (129). Pidduck argues that this “profound sense” does not depart from Austen’s Anne, as she is restrained by her family throughout her life.

Pidduck also analyzes Persuasion’s opening in terms of spatial and political themes. Pidduck writes that “the romance and promise of empire speaks through the idyllic movement-image of the sailing ship that bookends the film” (129). This opening emphasis on the sea as a metaphor for freedom and conquest also highlights Anne’s physical and emotional imprisonment later on in the film.

Pidduck also discusses Anne’s sea-walk at Lyme with Henrietta. In the scene, a boy runs past Captain Wentworth and Louisa, as the camera stops following the boy and films Anne again (132). Pidduck writes that this scene

“expresses several intersecting spatial power relations…This boy’s headlong run (what or who was he running from or to?) functions within the visual economy of the shot as a kinetic counterpoint in the plodding narrative progression, the class- designated perambulation of the protagonists” (132).

While visually appealing to the viewer’s romantic and nostalgic sensibilities, this scene also works to enhance Anne as a member of a slower sex, which physically disables her.

I thought that Pidduck’s essay was an interesting one; I’d like to focus on a theme such as this for my paper. I liked how Pidduck discusses the political and social implications of scenes, as well as how they work visually. I would use this article for my paper.

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