Monday, 5 October 2009

New Emma production and Pride and Prejudice Question 5

Yesterday's question was a tough one, but some of you had some very perceptive answers. Well done!
Recognize the village from my previous blog?

I watched Emma last night, as I said I'd do in my last blog. I'll give you a quick summary of how it went, and my general impressions.


The mini series starts with a review of Emma's childhood. We see Miss Bates as a fixture in Emma's childhood, constantly reading out letters detailing Jane Fairfax's accomplishments. We see her as she grows up, with Mr Knightly another fixture. Knightly seems inclined to reprimand both Emma and Miss Taylor. We catch a glimpse of John Knightly and Emma's sister, whose marriage Emma believes she engineered. And then Miss Taylor's marriage with Mr Weston.

The action starts after Miss Taylor's wedding, where Emma is left quite lonely in a big house with her father. Consequently she seeks out a companion, and she chooses Harriet, who is very pretty but quite empty-headed. Knightly warns that no good will come of it. Emma meanwhile, starts her machinations.

The first episode concludes with a big fight between Knightly and Emma, after Knightly learns she has twisted Harriet's arm to reject Mr Martin's proposal.

First I should say that this production deliberately sets out to be a modern interpretation. Consequently, Emma intentionally appears very contemporary. Even her hair and shots of her clothing from certain angles make her seem like someone dressed in current fashions (not all the time, but there is a deliberate attempt to do this, despite the fact that the period costumes are very accurate). One of the ways Sandy Welch brings it up to date in our post-psychoanalytic world, is to deliberately introduce a psychological approach to the characters. We understand Mr Woodhouse as a hypochondriac better, for example, when we know that he fears illness because of his wife's death.

We are also treated to beautiful views and lush landscapes. Mr Knightly is shown to be a very rich landowner, and his house is magnificent.


Romola Garai plays a perky, cheerful Emma, wide-eyed and full of well-meaning innocence. She is resolutely bustling and active, and generally sunny except when she fights with Knightly. She brings a new perspective to the character, emphasizing Emma's youth and her isolation, which goes a long way to explaining her errors in judgement. Sir Michael Gambon as Emma's father is wonderfully expressive. Jonny Lee Miller is so busy being Emma's older brother, the chemistry hasn't kicked in yet. I'll have to wait and see.

I need to defer judgement on the mini-series so far, though. I found it unexpected, but the plus side of it is that the approach is original and very different from any other productions before. There's a lot of new dialogue added. This is in keeping with the characters, but it is a bit disorienting if you know the novel. So far my sense is that it would be more enjoyable if I didn't know the novel (isn't that true of a lot of adaptations?), but there as still three episodes to go.

I'll keep you posted over the next three weeks.

For more images of the production, please visit Robert Morris via The Republic of Pemberley.

Meanwhile, the question you've been waiting for

Pride and Prejudice Question 5

What is the role of Georgiana in the novel? Would the novel have been different if Georgiana wasn't there?

10 comments:

  1. Georgiana is the sister of Darcy. Wickham tried to elope with Georgiana but Darcy as a loving brother did not allow it. The story would be hugely different because then then Elizabeth would not be that prejudiced about Darcy. She thinks that Darcy is the bad guy because she believes in what Wickham said. When the truth comes clear the reader sees another side of Darcy, the loving and caring side which is not that visible otherwise.

    milkavainamo@lyseo.edu.ouka.fi

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  2. Georgiana must be in the book. She brings out a side of Darcy, that few others ever see.

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  3. If Gorgiana allows us to see the sweet protective big brother come out in Darcy. Also the whole Wickham plot line would be entirely different because Darcy would have no real reason of hating him.

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  4. It showed me what a truly awful person Wickham is. And as mentioned before, it's nice to see Darcy's soft side. The fac that he's so keen on Lizzie meeting her shows his care for Lizzie, too.

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  5. It would have been much different without her. Wickham, who tries to woo Elizabeth, has a past with Georgiana. He mentions how spoiled/mean she is but when Elizabeth actually meets her she is a charming young lady. Without those two simple scenes (Wickham lying about Georgiana and Elizabeth meeting her) it would have simply been Wickham's word against Darcy's. But her meeting Georgiana and realizing Wickham was lying about the girl, helps her to better see Wickham's true character.

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  6. Georgiana is there so that we can see what a good man Mr. Darcy is because he cares so much for his sister. Lizzy's opinion of Darcy softens once she sees him with Georgiana.

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  7. Georgiana, as stated above, is neccessary to show Elizabeth how blind she has been to Darcy's true character. Georgiana shines the light on all of the lies that Wickham has told concerning Darcy. She also is used in the same way by Caroline Bingley, to cover her subterfuge in getting Charles off to London. Poor girl -- it's a good thing she doesn't know how these people continue to misuse her and abuse her good name and character!

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  8. Georgiana's backstory with Wickham helps to bring Darcy and Elizabeth closer through his need to explain his behavior toward Wickham. Without Georgiana to provide Darcy with some grounding, I think he would have been harsher around the edges as well. She reminds him to be humane.

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  9. Georgiana is meant to show the background of Wickham and how it affects Darcy. Without Georgiana, Elizabeth never would have known Wickham's true character and Darcy wouldn't have had a personal reason to really dislike Wickham.

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  10. Georgiana exists primarily to be Darcy's sister, of course - as Miss Darcy of Pemberley, offering everything that the Bennet girls lack, and therefore a sort of rival to Jane. And somebody he loves and praises and defends to Lady Catherine, making him extremely sympathetic. And he has to have a sister to make the very nice gesture of asking Elizabeth if she'd like to be introduced to her. (Rank-wise, it should be the other way around.)

    And of course she exists to be preyed upon by Wickham.

    Also, she's a sort of commentary. She's shy, pretty, submissive - the picture of conduct-book perfection. But the Wickhams of the world are just as much of a danger to the sweet, shy Georgianas as the wild Lydias, and Georgiana is a nervous wreck.

    Also, given that Pemberley is near Bakewell and therefore around Chatsworth, Georgiana might well be a sly sort of reference to the Duchess (esp taken w/ Darcy's name and surprisingly liberal opinions).

    Also, she's there to be Darcy's ward, almost (but not quite!) his daughter. He's indulgent - sets her up in her own household at fifteen, gives her extravagant gifts, writes long supportive letters, shows his feelings via interior design. He encourages her in meaningful accomplishments - Georgiana plays at least two instruments, sings, draws, paints. And she adores him. It'll probably be the same with his own daughters.

    Oh, and she's somebody else Elizabeth misjudges without really knowing.

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