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Austen Literary Essay

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Rachel R.
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Jane Austen frequently uses the ironic narrator in her novels to give her stories more depth. Instead of having stories where the outcome is obvious to reader, Austen incorporates ironic narrators whose points of view get mixed into our own. But writing with an ironic narrator is nothing compared to trying to film it. An 18th century reader is dramatically different from a 21st century moviegoer.

Changes and alterations must be made to Austen's work in order for a moviegoer to have the same experience as the reader. Additionally, movies are generally only an hour and a half to two and half hours long and there is no way that any novel's narration can be fully expressed in that time frame. We can see ironic narrator alterations in almost all of Austen's film adaptations including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Persuasion.

One example of moviegoers missing out on details of a novel happens in Pride and Prejudice. To an 18th century reader, there are several indications that Mr. Darcy has more than just friendly feelings towards Lizzie. He even goes so far as to explicitly tell Miss Bingley that he has intentions for her (25). But for those who see the movie, certain little hints of Mr. Darcy's infatuation with Lizzie may slip their notice. In order to let the audience be fully aware of this, the movie grabs their full attention.

[...] She thinks that they are just unintelligent, but Edward knows how to make her come out of her shell and be more comfortable with the strangers in her home. There is also a scene where Elinor notices out her window that Edward and Margaret are playing swords with two pieces of wood. He is showing her the proper way to stab someone. It is from these scenes that the moviegoer gets the same idea of Edward that a reader would get from the novel. He cares about others and isn't afraid of embarrassing himself and having a little fun. It shows the loose and unreserved side of Edward. [...]


[...] It is always better to read the novel, but for the people out there who don't have enough time (or are too lazy), there is always the film version, but it must be remembered that a movie from the 21st century does not always reflect the ideas of the 18th century. [...]


[...] While it may sound rather foolish to portray this scene in so racy a way, it does prove to appeal to a 21st century audience more than a scene with Lizzie reading the letter would (unless of course, she too were in the bath). Colin Furth in a bathtub keeps the audience glued to the screen and in turn the storyline. Sometimes rather extreme lengths have to be taken in order to get a point across. The movie version of a novel can even change certain character's features, age and characteristics. This can been seen in the film version of Sense and Sensibility. [...]

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