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Thread: Pride and Prejudice - 11/11

  1. #31
    Fool... but no pity. Krom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner View Post
    Four. Jane, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty. The tension in the Bennett household revolves around the fact that when Mr. Bennett the father dies, his land and the money that goes with it passes to the nearest male heir which would leave Mrs. Bennett and the daughters poor as church mice. As a result, Mrs. Bennett is set on marrying her daughters off.
    English law was kind of mercilessly sexist. Women actually had far more rights to property BEFORE they were married than afterwards. Maybe it's the fact that this book was set so early, or some over-romaticization, that assumes they'd be financially safer that way.

    I'm not sure about the time this book was set (the early 19th century, right?), but I know that in the mid 19th century a father could leave money to his daughter in his will--as either a dowry which was surrendered to her eventual husband or in more rare cases as actual property (which of course if she ever did get married, he'd own anyway). Very often father would (often wrongly) entrust the nearest living male relative with the responsibility of providing for the daughters (and often those male relatives abused or ignored that responsibility), but I'm not sure if it was true that a father would have NO CHOICE but to give that power over in that way--if he was nervous about the prospect, I mean. The only property he'd have no choice about would be property entailed with an inherited title--a residence or belongings which belonged to WHOEVER held that title instead of being personal property.

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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krom View Post
    English law was kind of mercilessly sexist. Women actually had far more rights to property BEFORE they were married than afterwards. Maybe it's the fact that this book was set so early, or some over-romaticization, that assumes they'd be financially safer that way.

    I'm not sure about the time this book was set (the early 19th century, right?), but I know that in the mid 19th century a father could leave money to his daughter in his will--as either a dowry which was surrendered to her eventual husband or in more rare cases as actual property (which of course if she ever did get married, he'd own anyway). Very often father would (often wrongly) entrust the nearest living male relative with the responsibility of providing for the daughters (and often those male relatives abused or ignored that responsibility), but I'm not sure if it was true that a father would have NO CHOICE but to give that power over in that way--if he was nervous about the prospect, I mean. The only property he'd have no choice about would be property entailed with an inherited title--a residence or belongings which belonged to WHOEVER held that title instead of being personal property.
    The book was originally written in 1797, being published in the 1810s or something. This movie is based in the year 1797, and the BBC miniseries in 1810s. It was expected at that point in time, the estate to go to the next male heir. However, the male heirs were not expected to care for the previous owner's daughters. They could be turned out asap as the movie repeatedly talks about. Krom, the opposite is true to your second statement. Women of fortune married for the comfort of society rather than love - a subject Jane Austen often wrote about. Unmarried women were considered sad, little things with literally no place in society.

  3. #33
    Fool... but no pity. Krom's Avatar
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    I understand the social reasons that marriage was always favored. Not debating that. But at least in THIS movie's interpretation of the book (it's been many years since I read the book so my memory is dim on how faithful this is to it), the father AND mother are presented as being worried about the fate of the daughters BEFORE the father died, as if he'd have NO CHOICE but to give EVERYTHING to the male relative. I know that was always true if the property was entailed along with a title, but that wasn't the case with this family, was it?

    Realistically, any parents back then would vigorously want and encourage (and even probably manipulate) their daughters to get married. What seems strange is that the father would seem to feel he has no other option.

    Male heirs, as you say, had no legal obligation to take care of the women (or other younger male relatives either--it was called "primogeniture" if I recall correctly), but it came down to a trust issue. If the older male trusted the heir, he'd leave it in his hands. The alternatives usually were that a.) the father was selfish or thoughtless of his daughter's future and never even gave it a second thought b.) care of the daughters was part of some settlement for some other (much smaller) bequest to some other person c.) there was always some expectation that some other relative (be they the heir or not) would take care of any remaining unmarried children--male OR female OR d.) the unmarried daughter was given a settlement or dowry in the father's will

    It's that last--the fact that the story seemed to be ignoring this was a possibility--that's confusing me. Unless, of course, ALL of the earning were tied up in the property they owned and the father felt that it couldn't be split up. Then he'd have to make a decision to sell or not--again unless the property was entailed with a title.

    None of this has much to do with what USUALLY did happen--which is precisely what is being said, that the male cousin would get everything and the daughters would best be married off already. It's just the sense that they had no choice which strikes me as a bit off. If the father cared--as he was portrayed as doing--they'd usually have a choice.

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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krom View Post
    I understand the social reasons that marriage was always favored. Not debating that. But at least in THIS movie's interpretation of the book (it's been many years since I read the book so my memory is dim on how faithful this is to it), the father AND mother are presented as being worried about the fate of the daughters BEFORE the father died, as if he'd have NO CHOICE but to give EVERYTHING to the male relative. I know that was always true if the property was entailed along with a title, but that wasn't the case with this family, was it?

    Realistically, any parents back then would vigorously want and encourage (and even probably manipulate) their daughters to get married. What seems strange is that the father would seem to feel he has no other option.

    Male heirs, as you say, had no legal obligation to take care of the women (or other younger male relatives either--it was called "primogeniture" if I recall correctly), but it came down to a trust issue. If the older male trusted the heir, he'd leave it in his hands. The alternatives usually were that a.) the father was selfish or thoughtless of his daughter's future and never even gave it a second thought b.) care of the daughters was part of some settlement for some other (much smaller) bequest to some other person c.) there was always some expectation that some other relative (be they the heir or not) would take care of any remaining unmarried children--male OR female OR d.) the unmarried daughter was given a settlement or dowry in the father's will

    It's that last--the fact that the story seemed to be ignoring this was a possibility--that's confusing me. Unless, of course, ALL of the earning were tied up in the property they owned and the father felt that it couldn't be split up. Then he'd have to make a decision to sell or not--again unless the property was entailed with a title.

    None of this has much to do with what USUALLY did happen--which is precisely what is being said, that the male cousin would get everything and the daughters would best be married off already. It's just the sense that they had no choice which strikes me as a bit off. If the father cared--as he was portrayed as doing--they'd usually have a choice.
    That was exactly the case with the Bennets. The property was entailed, period. Entailed property doesn't have to go along with a title. Most titles include an entailed property but often titled folk own other properties that weren't entailed that they could sell off or leave to whomever they chose.

    Mr. Bennet was a gentleman who owned land, but he wasn't titled. His property was entailed, and would pass to the closest living male relative.

    I remember in the book that Austen explained that the father had foolishly not made any attempt to save money when he was younger because he assumed he would have a male child. The family was basically living off whatever income the estate provided. I don't know if that means they had some tenants or what, but the idea was that the property provided enough money for them to live on. He invited Darcy to come hunt on his property so it was large enough to have game.

    The book says that the father assumed he'd be having a boy eventually and therefore there was no need to save. From that we can deduce that if the youngest had been a boy, the sisters could have lived on the property throughout his lifetime if they never married.

    The book also said that he would have no money to leave to his daughters. Mrs. Bennet had her own money (assumedly her own dowry) but that it was enough to keep her, not all the children. This also comes into play when (I feel silly spoilering this but just in case someone doesn't know the plot of a book written 200 years ago)
    Click to see Spoiler:
    Mr. Bennett accepted that his brother-in-law paid off Wickham, because the father truly hadn't a cent. It wasn't really the BIL who paid him off, but that's beside the point.


    The pressure to marry off those daughters was keenly felt, I think. Actually, although Elizabeth idolized her father, it does give you a different perspective on him when you consider their situation. Not only did he fail to plan for the future, he often seemed to hide away among his books. The mother, ostensibly silly and foolish, took her job as matchmaker seriously and was working all the angles to find her daughters security.
    You've gotta hustle if you want to earn a dollar. - Boston Rob

  5. #35
    Fool... but no pity. Krom's Avatar
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    That's the problem with compressing all of this to two hours--lost details. I have a slightly better memory of the miniseries than the book, and now that you have spelled it out I have a vague recollection.

    Yeah, looking it up, you are correct that it applied to the entire gentry class as well as the nobility--although I suppose there was some occasional confusion about who actually belonged to the gentry, since they were still technically commoners. Certainly the baronets, Sir this or Sir that, but Mr. Bennet wasn't even that, was he? Basically, Bennet and Darcy are the same class in the book--middle--but Darcy is not only much richer but also has relatives who DO have titles.

    I agree also that reducing the screentime forced a vast oversimplification of the role of the parents. That almost HAS to happen.

    One thing that's interesting. Keira Knightly actually IS the exact same age as her character. That rarely happens.

    Another fun fact. I never realized until stumbling on it on the net tonight that "Bridget Jones's Diary" is technically a loose adaptation of this book. Guess I should have actually watched the darn thing. I DID enjoy "Bride and Prejudice".

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  6. #36
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    Yes, and it was an inside joke to P&P junkies that Colin Firth was cast as the Darcy character in Bridget Jones. A lot of us fell in love with the A&E version of the book.
    You've gotta hustle if you want to earn a dollar. - Boston Rob

  7. #37
    FORT Fanatic random_thotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krom View Post
    Keira Knightly actually IS the exact same age as her character. That rarely happens.
    Yup! She was 19 when they were shooting and Lizzy is about 20. The rest of the Bennet sisters were pretty close too, the younger 4 actresses - Keira, Talulah (Mary), Carey (Kitty) and Jena (Lydia) were about 18/19 when they were shooting. Rosamund who's about 26 played the 22 year old Jane. Even Mr. Darcy was the right age. Matthew Macfayden was 28/29!

    I think that was one of my biggest issues with the miniseries. It's not convincing when you are 30 and trying to pull off one of the most-loved heroine in literature. However, Firth, at 35, was at his peak. The best quote about Firth was when his brother found out about Firth being Darcy, he said, "What?! Isn't he supposed to be sexy?"

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by aname View Post
    It was wonderful - very lush, romantic, and with a sensual beauty. The setting was more realistic to the period than the BBC version and the casting was great. Keira Knightly was surprisingly good ...Now to Darcy: Matthew MacFayden ... is large and imposing. ... What I saw between this Lizzie and Darcy was more romantic and sensual, the chemistry between them was terrific and believable. Quite frankly - I loved this movie!

    One last comment: I thought the actor who portrayed Wickam on the BBC/PBS version was just average looking, but the guy in this movie is a hunk so it is understandable why so many women were attracted to him.
    I thought the cast in the movie was much more attractive than the BBC version. Jane particularly in the BBC version was ok looking but in this movie Jane was stunning - easy to see why every man wanted her.

    The chemistry between Lizzie and Darcy in the movie was palpable. I loved both of them. I wanted a bit more of her realization that she loved him and his hope that maybe she had changed her mind. The BBC version did this quite nicely.

    All in all it was one of the most romantic films I've seen. I will surely buy it when it comes out on DVD.

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