Marriage in Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice question 28

The general consensus yesterday about Jane Austen's concept of marriage was that, though sad, it's true that Jane Austen would not encourage her heroines to marry for love if there was no money. Poor Mr Darcy may never have had the chance to marry Elizabeth if he wasn't fabulously rich, though I'd prefer to think she would have loved him anyway.

It's hard for us to understand this now, when there are career opportunities out there for people who are determined to improve their lot in life (though with the economic crunch, there are certain limitations), but in Jane Austen's world, few people could aspire to move beyond their class. People like Captain Wentworth are all the more "heroic" because they actually succeeded. The general objection to the Navy was that people could rise from the ranks and advance despite not having the backing one would need in the army. (If you haven't seen/read Sharpe, that's a great place to see how hard it is to become an officer if you're a commoner). With the prize money involved during war time, you could accumulate a fortune. Otherwise, if you did manage to make money some way or the other, it was considered "trade", which automatically excluded you from the ranks of the gentry. Luckily, with the industrial revolution, the middle class became much bigger, and the kind of social structure we know today grew out of it. Certainly for women marriage is no longer one of the few possible options. But in Jane Austen's world, it was a given. You had to marry well, and marrying for love was a luxury few could afford, if you happened to love the wrong person.

Well, we're almost at the end of this wonderful month of questions. Three more questions, and I'll be announcing the winners. Make sure to tune in on the 31st to find out if you're one of the five winners. You might have a book and a box of chocolates coming your way!

Pride and Prejudice question 28

Today's question is a film question: Setting aside previous actors who have played these roles, which actors would you like to see in the roles of Elizabeth and Darcy? Why would they be good in these roles?


  1. How about Adrien Brody as Darcy, Hugh Jackman as Wickham and James McAvoy as Bingley.
    With Scarlet Johansson as Elizabeth, Naomi Watts as Jane and Reese Witherspoon as Lydia.

    Bernard Hill as Mr. Bennett. Quite a mix! I'll post before I change my mind again! lol

  2. That is a tough one . . . I think Colin Firth is perfect as Mr. Darcy. I think Richard Armitage as Mr. Darcy. He can be very cool and haughty, but also expressive with emotion. I love him in North and South as well as the Robin Hood series.

    Now for Elizabeth . . . I'm not up on my young actresses these days. Everyone I keep thinking of is too old or already was Elizabeth (Keira Knightly). I'm going to say Kate Winslet ten years ago:-) She did a fantastic job as Marianne and I think she would have made a great Elizabeth as well!

  3. Sorry! I didn't say why I picked the actors I listed. I was really torn about my choices and I changed them a few times. It is hard to replace anyone in these roles because I love the movies so much!

    I think Adrien Brody is maybe too exotic, but I think he could have Darcy's bearing and also be able to show the transformation that Darcy went through. Scarlet J is smart and tough and would probably overpower Adrien Brody, but I think she could handle Elizabeth. My other picks are just for fun! I would love to see more of Bernard Hill.

  4. I think James McAvoy would be a great Mr. Darcy--I loved him as Tom LeFroy in Becoming Jane. He might look a little boyish, but he's such a good actor, I think he could pull it off. I'm being very unimaginative, but I think Anne Hathaway would be a perfect Elizabeth, too. She has a fun, intelligent quality about her that I think would suit the role. (And now, back to moving....)

  5. Laura, I know what you mean about actors being too old for the roles. I kept mentally trying to shove Liam Neeson in there somewhere, and it wasn't happening. (Now as Colonel Brandon, I see some possibilities....)

  6. Um. I think Elizabeth would gladly have accepted Darcy if he were not rich; she just couldn't afford to if he were too poor to support her. Anyway.

    I don't really know actors within a year or two of the characters' actual ages, and in a story about youthful first-time love, it's kind of important that they are. Darcy's described only as "young" (over and over) until Ch 58 out of 61, yet he's never once been cast under thirty. But if we could have had an adaptation ten years ago . . .

    Elizabeth -- Zooey Deschanel (19 in 1999). She's got a breezy charm that I would really enjoy seeing in Elizabeth (who, IMO, is often played as shrewish or saccharine). And physically she's very much how I see her - pretty in a quirky, elfin sort of way, slender but not emaciated, dark blue eyes. (And Emily as Jane would be very cool - she could have definitely shown her steel.)

    Darcy -- Jude Law (27 in 1999). Darcy's complex and difficult and in the first half highly ambiguous, and I don't think anyone's really managed to capture that. Law's a brilliant actor, and I know he can handle ambiguity. More shallowly, he's very pretty, he actually looks like an aristocrat, and I absolutely love the idea of Darcy as blond. I think I could die happy if someone finally got away from the dark brooding blah blah thing.

  7. I think that Eric Dane from Grey's Anatomy would be the perfect Darcy. I have these fantasies about him as a Darcy. He can act a total asshole but he can also be gentle and stuff. And he is so amazingly handsome. I think that he would make the perfect Darcy. And then Simon Baker from The Mentalist would be the perfect Mr Bingley. He looks so nice and gentle, just like Mr Bignley.

    Never really thought about Elizabeth...


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