JOMP BPC | October 16 | Bookish Item
JOMP BPC | October 16 | Bookish Item
just realized there was a time when i was alive and pride and prejudice (2005) didn’t exist. what the fuck.
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i was gonna read that book that’s like a sappy romance between two scientists bc im a sappy (future) scientist who is incapable of finding love for some reason and i want to read something lighthearted (bc i’ve been spending my days stressing about uni and reading a lot of stuff about death recently and i need some happy vibes) but i found out it used to be a reylo fanfic what the fuck?
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady // Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Emma Woodhouse, Emma 1996
Ever wanted to know more about Lady Katherine DeBourgh… I probably spelled that wrong dont at me 😂 check this out
There’s no such thing as unconditional love, all love is conditional. You just have to choose one that befits your terms and conditions.
glaring at the screen. songbird tries to write romance challenge and fails miserably
Thinking about when someone rests their head on your shoulders and suddenly you are barely breathing because you don't want to disrupt their comfort by moving. I will never get over how there can be so much love in silent gestures.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Jane Austen invented romance when she wrote, “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
-Baggage, from Honeybee- Trista Mateer
Pride & Prejudice headers
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Salvou? Nos avise e compartilhe
you are the worst judge in the world, mr. knightley, of the difficulties of dependence. you've always been your own master. you've no idea what it is to have tempers to manage.
Them confessing by saying 'I love you' <<<<< Them confessing by saying 'you have bewitched me body and soul'
..and the never ending hypocrisy (of fanon!ship fans who hate on the canon love interest)
Again, I really, really can’t take people seriously when they concern troll about the age difference between Emma and Mr Knightley (that truly was the norm in 1800 and doesn’t have to be arbitrarily bad nowadays either if we are talking about consenting adults) making it the be all end all of excuses to paint their romance as problematic (because they have no other arguments and keep projecting on Emma because they don't accept it's him she loves and she really doesn't give a damn about the fact he's older than her), and play moral police with people who like it (as if anyone here is ‘glorifying’ it because of the age-gap, lol?? couldn’t be we love them because they are equals and they know each other well and they are in love with each other and a perfect match? I dunno) all the while they are out here not only giving a pass to Emma&Harriet’s (canonically) problematic ‘friendship’, but actually, actively, overinflate and romanticize that dynamic taking its most negative elements out of context, altering it all to ‘glorify’ them and present them as “best friends/relationship goals”.
(btw, nice try but the man is only 37? he's like, still young and BOTH Emma and Harriet think he can get it so yeah, stay mad I guess)
Listen, I love Emma and her character growth (she’s one of the best female characters ever for many reasons) but I’m not here to erase her flaws, and pretend she’s an angel, and the fact Harriet truly brings out the worst sides of her character and in more than one aspect, she acts like a narcissistic abuser with her in a way that can really resonate with people who experienced that both in romantic and platonic relationships. And the thing is, people don’t talk about that ENOUGH in spite of this being a very important part of the book that, truly, is not that hard to understand in its narrative devices and what kind of purpose Austen gives to this or that element (including and foundamentally the dynamics too).
Don't make me take one of the book copies I own and start to quote all the things to refresh your memory but the way Emma manipulates the girl, considers her an "addition to her privileges", thinks she can improve her, create her opinions, form her tastes and essentially turn her into everything she wants her to be is enough to make me see red flags in their so called friendship but the fact she is passive aggressive with her (pretty much telling her she won’t be her friend if she associates with people she doesn’t approve or considers below her) and actively manipulates Harriet into rejecting a man she knows that she loves? all because she cannot see herself being a friend of the farmer’s wife so Harriet must marry the guy EMMA chooses for her (creepy Elton) and that she deems right. I mean, the part where she dictates when Harriet is allowed to visit the Martins women (that Harriet considers her friends and who care a great deal about her) and how long the visit must be and Harriet does everything Emma wants her to do... like, hello??? I don’t care if Emma thinks she’s doing that for her good (as if this isn’t exactly what most of abusers think?), or if her conscience sometimes tries to make her feel sorry, her behavior is still wrong on so many levels, she is selfish, manipulative, arrogant and in no way her relationship with Harriet is that of a real friend nor it is healthy by any means.
The truth is she will understand Harriet and respect her feelings for Robert only when she herself understands her feelings for Mr Knightley (insert Demi!Emma readings here) and Harriet briefly becomes a threat for her but, for most of it, their dynamic essentially boils down to clever, rich, privileged Emma manipulating a pretty but not intellectually skilled, naive, 17 years old daughter-of-no-one making her a pet project because she’s bored and lonely, only to drop the girl like a hot potato the moment she realizes they both want the same man. When Emma is annoyed at Mrs Elton for her arrogance and the way she treats Jane as a pet project to feed her ego she’s essentially looking into a mirror that reflects an exasperated, caricature version of herself and her own flaws.
The fact the only thing Harriet and Emma have in common is being both girls would, alone, make me struggle finding potential for real friendship between them. There are moments that really emphasize Harriet’s intellectual inferiority to Emma’s cleverness and frustrated intellegence. I never get the idea they talk about anything deep, and it's obvious to me they are both blind to each other feelings about anything important, cue Emma not getting the fact Harriet wanted Mr Knightley not Frank (and Harriet worships her but doesn't see her as a human being who may have feelings too, she only cares about Emma helping her). Putting that aside, the power imbalance there is really HUGE and they are never equals and they will never be equals in any shape or form. It will always be ‘Miss Woodhouse/Mrs Knightley’ and ‘Harriet’ with the latter not really having a free choice whether she wants to be nice to the first or not. It’s even worse in the end because Emma marries the guy who owns the land and house where Harriet and her husband live. To simply put it, using what Emma thinks at one point, she’s everything while Harriet is nothing. I saw people legit comparing them to Anne and Diana and I’m like NOPE.
But I digress... back to the main point, there is no doubt that if you analyze romances written centuries ago using nowadays standards and sensibilities you are always going to find something icky or problematic in them; no one is denying that. But you can’t seriously expect me to see Mr Knightley as a villain and/or paint his relationship with Emma as problematic (for reasons that more often than not aren’t even canon ) all the while you are more or less turning a blind eye to the actual canon reasons why Emma is a villain in Harriet’s story and she realizes that she is, and that’s one of the main reasons why they have to go on separate ways in the end for the good of them both.
The fact the Emma&Harriet dynamic is romanticized is interesting in the way it also emphasizes how contradictory the "moral police" on the internet really is. When you really think about it, that dynamic does have a lot of those elements that people deem as problematic when it comes to male/female relationships. In fact, were Emma a man I have no doubt people, especially in this day and age, would endlessly complain about that relationship and see Harriet as a victim and want her to free herself from Emma asap.
However, it seems like since the ‘bad guy’ is a woman in this instance, instead of being a man like it usually is, people not only give it a pass but actually romanticize it as if they like a woman having that role for a change (or they just don't recognize some things as bad if it's a woman doing them and it’s done in a platonic relationship instead of romance). I think while men and women never had the same power and privileges, some things are problematic no matter the gender of the person doing them and especially in Emma and Harriet’s case, in spite of the story being set in context of 1800 where women as a whole had less rights and power than men, Emma DOES still really have a ton of power and privilege compared to Harriet and in the context of her world and her reality, there is no chance for them to be equal or for Emma’s actions/behavior to get a pass just because she’s a woman.
So yeah, tl dr: if you want to concern troll about the age difference in the main couple (and project your feelings on Emma) all the while you aren't one bit willing to also take a honest, critical look at how problematic the Emma&Harriet dynamic really is, and you actually glorify and romanticize it as good and cute, in the same breath you want to policy people about whether they are allowed or not allowed to find emma/knightley cute, I'll just side-eye you and not really take your 'critique’ seriously.
“Jane Fairfax was an orphan, the only child of Mrs. Bates’s younger daughter. The marriage of Lieut. Fairfax, of the — regiment of infantry, and Miss Jane Bates had had its day of fame and pleasure, hope and interest; but nothing now remained of it, save the melancholy remembrance of him dying in action abroad—of his widow sinking under consumption and grief soon afterwards—and this girl. By birth she belonged to Highbury: and when at three years old, on losing her mother, she became the property, the charge, the consolation, the fondling of her grandmother and aunt, there had seemed every probability of her being permanently fixed there; of her being taught only what very limited means could command, and growing up with no advantages of connection or improvements to be engrafted on what nature had given her in a pleasing person, good understanding and warm-hearted, well-meaning relations.” … “Jane Fairfax was very elegant, remarkably elegant; and she had herself the highest value for elegance. Her height was pretty, just such as almost everybody would think tall and nobody could think very tall; her figure particularly graceful; her size a most becoming medium, between fat and thin, though a slight appearance of ill-health seemed to point out the likeliest evil of the two…and then her face—her features—there was more beauty in them all together than [Emma] had remembered; it was not regular, but it was very pleasing beauty. Her eyes, a deep grey, with dark eye-lashes and brows, had never been denied their praise, but the skin, which she had been used to cavil at, as wanting colour, had a clearness and delicacy which really needed no further bloom.” — Emma, Chapter 20
Number 5: 1996 (Miramax)
Portrayed by: Polly Walker Age at time of filming: 29
I didn’t want to do this, but I think I have to. I know that when one is adapting a book to a movie, just about everything can be argued to be up to interpretation. But I just do not believe Polly Walker as Jane Fairfax. This is a rare occasion in which I will say, outright, I think this character was mis-cast. I don’t know if this is a me thing (I’m not a huge fan of Polly Walker), but everything about her seems just wrong for the role. Firstly, I don’t think she really suits the description of Jane. Being a woman of robust build, she certainly doesn’t tend towards what I would call thin, and at 29, she looked her age, while Jane and Emma are meant to both be about 21. She’s a woman of commanding presence, handsome, striking, but not what I think of as having a “style of beauty of which elegance is the reigning character”. Her styling, with scraped back hairstyles (pictured), might even be called severe, and it’s not terribly flattering to her. But enough about me picking at Polly Walker—for more of that, read my review. The fundamental issue with this Jane (other than the casting choice taking me out of the story a bit) is pretty much the same as with this version’s Frank: she’s underdeveloped; passed over, even. I know I said Frank might suffer the most for being under-written, but now that I consider, Jane gets even less time on screen than Frank, so it may really be she who suffers most from underdevelopment. I suppose I should give points for Jane and Frank having some on-screen interaction to tie them together, where 2020’s Jane and Frank have almost none. What chemistry there is between them isn’t what I would call memorable—mostly when I think of them, all I remember is her being as tall as him.
2 out of 5 Pianofortes of mysterious origin
Number 4: 1972
Portrayed by: Ania Marson Age at time of filming: 22
1972’s portrayal (played by Polish-English actress Ania Marson) was my other consideration for the number five spot. She is saved by her suitable physical appearance and allowance for screen time. That said, what she’s given room to do on screen is what lands her so low. Unlike Polly Walker, this Jane is, demure, middling height, pretty, a little thin, tending to an unhealthy pallor which is redeemed by a clear complexion, and at 22, was the perfect age; on the face of it, she’s the picture perfect portrayal of the enigmatic young woman created by Jane Austen. But there are great deficiencies that hamper her potential, and as usual, they lie in the script and direction, and perhaps the actress’s own abilities. To start with, 1972’s Jane is never shown to sing with any great proficiency. When she does, it is weak, written off as her having a sore throat. While that’s a pull from the source material, it’s noted in the book, that even with a sore throat, Jane sings very well. All the piano music in this version is sketchy in general, so when she plays it’s adequate, but it hardly performs its function of showing Jane’s accomplishments, which are and important aspect of her juxtaposition with Emma. As Emma is never shown to play or sing at all, we have nothing to compare her to, and the device loses its purpose. But that is a minor complaint. This Jane’s greatest weakness comes down, I think, to inconsistency in direction. She’s very quiet, almost mousey in her demureness… until she shouts at her aunt in her first appearance. The screencap I used for her thumbnail captures the ghost of the most disconcerting aspect of this portrayal of Jane. Her stress and exhaustion manifest very oddly here, and between this inconsistency and Ania Marson’s pale, wide-eyed gaze, she comes off as almost… unstable. She seems not merely emotionally exhausted, but driven to the edge of disturbance.
2½ out of 5 Pianofortes of mysterious origin
Number 3: 2020
Portrayed by: Amber Anderson Age at time of filming: 27
At first I didn’t really have many thoughts about 2020’s Jane Fairfax, played by Amber Anderson. Even on my second watch, I didn’t really notice much about her. On my most recent re-watch however, paying particular attention to all of the characters, I have more to say. The first thing I noticed is that while this Jane has all the requisite elegance, she comes off as intensely haughty. Her expression in her introductory scene is neither reserved nor demure but simply… bored; verging on apathetic. In truth she reminded more of how Lady Middleton is described in Sense and Sensibility than Jane Fairfax. But I was reminded of another Jane Austen lady when I looked more closely at her she bears a striking resemblance to Anna Chancellor as Caroline Bingley in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice, and like Anna Chancellor, she’s also imposingly tall (5’10’’)—a little too tall for Jane’s height, even considering Anya Taylor Joy’s 5’8”. 2020’s Jane, in Amber Anderson is as 1996’s was in Polly Walker: an impressive, handsome woman, but with a haughty air. She seems to actively look-down on Emma as a person and not just a potential rival. She actually rolls her eyes at Emma’s over-dramatic pauses in her playing and singing, and when it’s Jane’s turn to grace the company with a tune, she seems to relish the opportunity to show Emma up. Though I appreciate Jane’s function as audience proxy in seeing through Emma’s bullshit, in truth, it doesn’t really ring quite true to the character. Indeed, it seems more like something Caroline Bingley would do than Jane Fairfax. For all those faults though, I think that when she was allowed to, Anderson did a wonderful job of showing glimpses of Jane’s underlying emotions. Her appeal to Emma at Donwell is particularly affecting, as it should be. Really I think I rank 2020’s Jane so highly out of a certain respect for the potential that wasn’t allowed to flourish here. I think Anderson might have had decent chemistry with Callum Turner’s Frank, had they been allowed to interact… at all. From what little I have to go off of in this performance, I think Anderson’s Jane might have been able to do something to redeem the sad excuse for a Frank Churchill that this version offered us.
3 out of 5 Pianofortes of mysterious origin
I tried to decide between 1997 and 2009 for my number one Jane Fairfax. And I couldn’t—I just couldn’t. One I think is the impeccable execution of the character as described in the novel, the other, the interpretation that hits me the hardest in my gut, and is my personal favorite. So while one is ranked number one and the other number two, regard these, please, as the top spot in two parts. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Number 2: 1996/97 (ITV)
Portrayed by: Olivia Williams Age at time of filming: 29
Olivia Williams is perhaps the most inspired casting choice in the entire ITV version of Emma. It was her breakthrough screen role, and it’s one of those that the actress seems born to play. Though William’s eyes are green, like Elizabeth Taylor, they seem to have that delicate balance of melanin that allow them to appear a cool gray, or even blue, depending on the lighting and the color of her clothes. She’s blessed with a complexion that, with the right makeup and lighting could be considered clear and pale, or wanting color as needed. Her figure and size very well match Jane’s “most becoming medium” (though at 5’9” she might be considered a little tall, but what is that when everything else about her ticks the boxes so perfectly?), and though, at 29, she was considerably older than Jane (who is Emma’s age) she still has enough youthful bloom to carry it off next to the more accurately aged Kate Beckinsale. The script treats her well too, which, given what Andrew Davies saw fit to do with some of the other characters (notably her worse half, Frank), is a true blessing. She holds her own against Frank’s prodding, and her internal distress is organic and full of feeling, and she never once comes off as haughty or mean to Emma beyond what one can rightly expect from her, given her perception of their connection. Best of all though, she can really sing. All of the Janes (Ania Marson excepted) could sing, but only Olivia Williams’ Jane is noticeably better at it compared to her Emma. On top of which, this Jane sings operas in German and Italian, while Emma sings only in English—another way of showing why Emma is so envious of Janes extensive accomplishments.
5 out of 5 Pianofortes of mysterious origin
Number 1: 2009
Portrayed by: Laura Pyper Age at time of filming: 29
If 1997’s Jane is the most textually accurate, 2009’s is the one with the greatest emotional depth. She’s also the one with the best chemistry alongside her Frank, which is perhaps the reason she stood out to me so much. Laura Pyper’s complexion is not clear and pale as Jane’s is described, in fact, one can accuse her coloring of being completely wrong for the role. She could even be described as quite mousey, compared to Jane’s dignified, if irregular beauty. She does, however, suit Jane’s delicacy. Looks aside, though, she’s my favorite Jane (to nobody’s surprise, I am sure.) As with all things in the 2009 version, Jane’s inner emotions are brought to the fore, to stunning effect. Pyper’s Jane is in sync with Rupert Evans’ Frank at every step, which is unique to this version. It adds so much to the viewer’s understanding of the story, so that as the pieces fall into place, it makes sense that, however badly awry their relationship has gone, you can see how Jane might have fallen for Frank in the first place. 2009 bread and butter, though, is as I’ve so often said before, the visceral manner in which you are drawn into Jane’s weariness and exhaustion. The desperation rolls off of her, but when not letting it burst to the surface, it rests quietly in Laura Pyper’s pretty and demure expressions.
5 out of 5 Pianofortes of mysterious origin
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