Having read the novel and enjoyed several productions, I am happy to say I find this one of the most enjoyable versions. Darcy is a challenging character to play, as his initial aloofness is so easily misplayed as solely due to conceit. I think Colin Firth does well to project the sense that the man has been wounded, and his withdrawal from "inferior company" was a lesson learned at a price. It is not until the story unfolds that he realizes his reaction has been overblown, and that his affectation has deeply offended the one person he finds the strongest kinship with. Darcy is a quick man of considerable talents to be sure, and likewise it is the considerable talents of Miss Elizabeth Bennet that he finds so beguiling. After listening to the Bingley sisters prattle on over the most simple of trifles it is not hard to understand his relief in the conversation of Miss Bennet. Sadly for our hero, she allows her inclination to dislike Mr. Darcy be reinforced by the unfortunate acquaintance she soon develops with Mr. Wickham. Wickham is a real piece of work. His ability to present himself as an honorable man stems from the fact that he is well aware of what an honorable man would be. He just has found it more convenient not to be one. The degree of dishonesty he is willing to perpetrate on the unsuspecting is remarkable. Georgiana's deceivement is not hard to fathom. She wanted to believe that Wickham was in love with her, and he was adept at presenting himself as the gentleman suitor. But Miss Eliza Bennet was a harder case, for here was a clever woman indeed, and yet he still manages to completely escape her penetration. Wickham was a man not saddled with moral compunctions, and to be a good liar he became skilled in giving someone a story they were already inclined to believe. This is the key quality in an adept liar. They present things in a form that suites the listener's own moral codes. Well, I am getting way ahead of myself. We have yet to enjoy the company of one Mr. Collins, whose considerable well practiced skills at flattery of the fairer sex are the stuff of legend. Let us proceed with the show...
I must say, I enjoyed Mr. Bingley's dance. The Bennets walk in, and Miss Bingley is all pleasant greeting them, but then her "Oh, and I see you have brought all of the Bennet sisters." Too funny! But it was Mr. Darcy dancing with Lizzy that was the best. Here is this whip quick woman attempting to rupture what she perceives as Mr. Darcy's haughty sense of superiority, and at every turn he parry's her, calmly and with quiet purpose. Sure, she still thought very ill of him, but if I don't miss my guess his agility generated a certain appreciation in her mind for Mr. Darcy. And then that cad Wickham, whispering stories in her ear and going on about poor Georgiana as being ruined with pride like her brother, when in reality... oh but wait, we are getting ahead of ourselves!
Well, as all others seem to have yet to see the show, I pretty much rule the roost as far as opinions on the various characters go. Excellent! I will not forge ahead much further, except to remark on Jane Bennet, Elizebeth's sister and confidante. It is a great pleasure to see the two girl's together. I can imagine what a pleasant comfort it must be for a woman to have a dear sister or female friend to share life with. I very much enjoy watching their companionship together.Susannah Harker, who plays Jane Bennet, is a remarkable woman. Perhaps the hair styling that was the fashion of the period may not be the most flattering, but I will have you know I have seen Miss Harker in Adam Bede. Though for the most part, there her hair was hidden under a bonnet, I do by chance recall one scene where Adam came in upon her while she was cleaning a floor, and her long flowing tresses coupled with that calm demeanor was quite something. Very fine indeed. The calm presence she can convey is used again in her portrayal of Jane in Pride and Prejudice, where Mr. Darcy misconstrues it for a lack of interest in Mr. Bingley. This was at least part of the reason for his discouraging his friend in pursuing Miss Bennet, and it speaks again to the error we are sometimes led to if we place too much stock in our ability to judge things by their outer appearance. Of our hero I will say this: he freely acknowledged to Lizzy that he could have misjudged the matter, and in finding out so, he was sorry for the injury caused to Jane. I like that kind of honesty in a man. The considerable heat coming off Jane's sister might be another reason for his regrets. The exchange he and Lizzy had in Mr. Collin's drawing room was amazingly... vibrant. Their back and forth there was just another great moment in this great drama. It is so good, it's hard to stop watching it!
I very much enjoy watching their companionship together.Oh, I loved the scenes of Jane and Lizzy together, their private conversations where it was safe to be honest about their joys and troubles; I enjoyed so much their open affection, the sense that they understood each other so well, that each was for the other a constant.And as much as Lizzy's irreverent wit was displayed throughout the show, some of the lines in those scenes were the best! My favorite bit might have to be Lizzy's response to Jane's pointing out how much she had disliked (Jane being, as ever, preternaturally tactful) Mr. Darcy prior to their surprising engagement:Perhaps I didn't always love him as well as I do now, but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable.
As to Susannah Harker, the more I saw of her, the more I loved her portrayal of Jane Bennett. Does Adam Bede need to go into the queue?
It's a hard story, but well done. George Eliot, and she is a good when it comes to considering the human condition, as you well know from our look at Middlemarch. Adam Bede is such a good, solid, promising young man. And though the young master has good intentions, he allows himself far too much latitude and puts others at risk. Beautifully done, and I dearly loved the ending. Adam Bede's mother was great with her simply worded but crystal clear insights. Young men can be so slow to recognize what a mother can see straight away. And Susannah Harker, well, quite a lovely young woman. It actually added to my enjoyment of Pride and Prejudice to have seen her in Adam Bede. Say the word and I'm your man!
One aspect of the story that is foreign to us is the tremendous value placed on propriety in the society that Jane Austin's characters inhabit. The idea that an entire family's place in society could be jeopardized by the foolish acts of the youngest daughter is quite foreign. Equally strange is the notion of attempting to damage a person by having a relationship with their sister or daughter. We come to understand these rules largely through the reactions the various characters have to the events that transpire. Once understood we find we are quite at home with them. It is like visiting a foreign country or far away place. A part of that far away society is the restraint we see in Mr. Darcy. If wounded by some horrid event, he is likely to say "I am deeply grieved to hear this news", and move on. It is quite important to him that his feelings remain governed. This is far different than the lack of sensitivity exhibited by that drunken sop Mr. Hurst. The governing of feeling is not the lack of feeling, but could such a man be known? Could he be companionable to someone like Elizabeth Bennet? I think so, very much. Between these two much would be conveyed with a look, a smile, a glint of laughter in her eye. Clearly she has a very deep understanding with her father, though often how they feel is simply understood rather than expressed. Much is left unsaid for both Mr. Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Throughout the story Darcy's character is only hinted at, and not truly known by our heroine until she meets Mr. Darcy's housekeeper, who speaks of the man as known over the course of many years. For Lizzy then, with the essence of the man finally known, the rest would come easily enough.
Between these two much would be conveyed with a look, a smile, a glint of laughter in her eye.This is so true in the scene in which Miss Bingley brings up Wickham's name while Gerogiana is playing the piano, and the look of quiet gratitude that Darcy gives Lizzy for covering Georgiana's start clearly touches her heart.
Did you not all find Mr. Wickham to be an excellent horseman? I must say, I was quite delighted to watch him riding about, smiling, waving and carrying on, while the Bennet girls were on a little walk together. Now there, thought I, rides a man who can truly sit a horse.
Certainly Mr. Wickham knew himself to be an impressive horseman, and made great efforts to ensure that all the young women were aware of it, too. :)
Oh, hang Mr. Wickham! Would that his horse would miss a step and dump him on his ...
I finally made a good dent in P&P last night -- I've gotten as far as Miss Elizabeth refusing Mr. Collins, with her father's blessing, and leaving Mrs. Bennett rather comically distraught.So, we've seen the Bennett household as it is driven by its daughters; the steadier influences of Jane and Lizzie frequently insufficient to temper the passions and exuberance of the younger members. This production gives Mrs. Bennett less of the overtly ignorant foolishness of some others, though she retains (and exercises) the prideful indiscretion that embarrasses the principals and disgusts the merely interested. But the Mr. Bennett of this show does not reflect the very serious faults of the original. He seems both teasing and tolerant, over-indulgent, perhaps, but what is missing the very real abandonment of his wife and children, the abdication of his responsibilities as husband and father, even while he lives in the home. In the novel it is clear that, as his disillusionment with the pretty but silly girl he married grew, Mr. Bennett retreated to his books more and more, closing his door to the increasing chaos, rather than instituting order. And the great crime of this was that his younger children were not only loosed on society without manners or decorum, but were allowed to grow into young women guided by whim rather than character. (A reality that becomes increasingly clear to Lizzie as she watches her sisters play with the young officers, and hears her mother brazenly announce as attained the very private hopes of her blameless Jane.)That's why it is a major breakthrough for Mr. Bennett to put himself in opposition to his wife's demand that he require Lizzie to marry Mr. Collins: there are real, and painful, practical matters driving the mother's insistence, and the father knows that his peace will be shattered by his wife's anger and retributions; yet he stands by the child he loves best, for once determined to be her protector.continued...
continued:I still don't (officially) know very much about Darcy at this point: he is quick to be brutally insulting among and towards people who have done nothing to earn his disregard except be beneath him socially. He is distant to the point of personal offense when Lizzie is forced into his company while Jane is ill at Netherfield -- even though he defends her with dry contradictions to the catty observations of Bingley's sisters. Her demeanor toward him goes from indifferent to quietly hostile when she hears Wickham's account of their past, and Darcy, perhaps all too correctly guessing the source of her antagonism, only alienates her further.(I thought the scene in the Netherfield drawing room, where a bit of idle banter becomes an encoded exchange of character assessments, Darcy and Lizzie forgetting, for just a moment, their very attentive audience, was very nicely done.)The only thing we have to prevent us from believing Darcy the complete arrogant ass he appears is his deep friendship with Bingley. While wealthy enough to satisfy the most fastidious of snobs, Bingley's openness, his delight in whatever company he finds, his actual preference for engaging with the lower class over solitude, would be too tiresome for a truly shallow Darcy to support. And so there is a bit of mystery here, the dissonance between what the offended Lizzie is quick to believe of him, and what Bingley, and because of Bingley, Jane, feel certain they know of him.Wickham is still an unknown at this point. It is obvious that Darcy holds him in contempt, but given the brutal treatment Darcy gives other people -- like the insinuating Mr. Collins -- that suggests nothing more significant than his finding Mr. Wickham a presumptuous Nobody.Wickham's quickness to confide in the newly acquainted Miss Elizabeth Bennett might be dismissed as an exigency of the production, and so far he has only shown himself to be accommodating to the younger girls and interested in Lizzie -- as any sensible young man would be. :)I suspect there is a great deal more to be revealed...
Phew! Sure am glad I didn't have to add a picture to prove I'm not a robot.
"I thought the scene in the Netherfield drawing room, where a bit of idle banter becomes an encoded exchange of character assessments, Darcy and Lizzie forgetting, for just a moment, their very attentive audience, was very nicely done."Certainly, and it was also clear that however arrogant Mr. Darcy was, he was a man of no small parts. Initially Lizzy had declined to play cards with her hosts, and was censured by Miss Bingley, who declared that Lizzy delighted in nothing else but reading. Miss Bennet responded crisply that her characterization was unfounded. When the conversation turned a few moments later to what made for a truly accomplished woman, Mr. Darcy was throwing a compliment Lizzy's way by explicitly stating that improving one's mind by reading was an essential element. I do not believe Lizzy perceived the compliment, as she immediately went about attempting to put Mr. Darcy at some ill ease, but her efforts were unsuccessful, which came as some surprise to her.Mr. Darcy is uncommonly forthright, and I find that his open honesty in sharing his opinion is certainly socially awkward, and at times even ill mannered, but it is the man's nature to be so. The truth be told he is annoyed by the idleness and gossip that seems to make up much of the conversation among his friends, and they misjudge his reactions. When he shares with Bingley his surprise at Bingley's stated desire to remain in the country, he is honestly sharing his opinion that the society is confined and less interesting than in London. He says so without consciously realizing that he is offending some of those in the room, but he still believes what he is saying is factually correct, though admittedly impolitic. The ensuing harangue by Mrs. Bennet was at least as rude as anything Mr. Darcy said, more so by my estimation as she intended to wound him, whereas he did not intend to wound anyone.Meanwhile Miss Bingley continues in her efforts to divert Mr. Darcy's attention, and assumes she knows his mind in regards to the company they are keeping, which she clearly thinks is provincial and below her station. At a gathering at Sir Williams she whispers in Darcy's ear that she can guess what he is thinking, to which he responds quite honestly "I would guess not" When she then suggest that he thinks the company dull, he tells her no, he was thinking how pleasant it was to be gazing at a young lady with a fine pair of eyes. Thinking he is referring to herself, she coyly asks "And who sir, do you refer" to which he states "Miss Eliza Bennet" at which point she turns sour and moves away. Did he intend to wound her? My guess is "no". In fact, I believe he may have been completely unaware that his words would disappoint her. He was interested in Miss Bennet and he was not even thinking of her. It is not like him to wound someone purposefully, certainly not Bingley's dear sisters. No, I believe he lacks tact and a certain sensitivity, and his honest answers get him into trouble. I'm afraid I can relate to that, very well.
Oh, I think you much too kind to Mr. Darcy here. He is not new to society: he knows full well the weight of a slight from from someone in his position. He is honest and direct -- but with no risk to himself or his interests in being so; he is the top of the present food chain. Not only is he rude, he is rude to those who are socially inferior to him, which is appalling. He may have been unaware of Lizzy's proximity the time he spoke of there being no females present who could tempt him to dance, but he knew well that Mr. Collins -- not only his inferior, but one who was actually dependent on another member of his wealthy family -- was still speaking to him when, having heard what he needed, he turned and walked away.With Miss Bingley, I think, there is a change in the nature of their interactions. Initially he seems, if not encouraging, at least indifferent to her catty remarks about Miss Elizabeth Bennett. But as the acquaintance grows, and his opinion of that particular Bennett sister improves, his responses to Miss Bingley become more direct, and eventually shift from simply disagreeing with her comments to making sure she knows he finds them unacceptable as well as untrue. (He is, toward the end, quite severe with her, but by then we heartily endorse his bluntness!)
There is some truth in what you say, and I might be inclined to agree with you wholeheartedly, if I had not seen Mr. Darcy with Mr. Bates, his fencing instructor. Or with his groomsmen when he arrived on horseback at Pemberley unexpectedly. Or with his house servant as he hastily prepared to dress one fine morning. He is quiet, considerate, direct. Pretentious? Haughty? Overbearing? I did not see that in this man.
Speaking of Mr. Darcy, I must admit he starts off on very bad footing, that is certain, but the story is viewed from the perspective of the Bennet family. There is a purposeful scheming that Mrs. Bennet engages in from the start that even Lizzy sees a certain humorous quality to: "For it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife"Mr. Darcy had just a year or so earlier intervened in Mr. Wickhams plans to ruin his young sister, and it is with that background that he first meets Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Darcy is no fool, and sees what Mrs. Bennet is about. It is not long into the country dance that she sets to ensnaring any man of means that presents. Mr. Darcy is actually of greater interest to her than Mr. Bingley, because you see, Bingley's fortune is nothing compared to Mr. Darcy's. Now I ask you, in such a setting, what can we expect from Mr. Darcy? Thus when Bingley presses him to dance with Lizzy, he offers "She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me."Does he not speak of being tempted by Mrs. Bennet's trap? Honestly, can we blame him? He is not some prize for Mrs. Bennet to ensnare. The whole notion is offensive. No wonder he has such a sour outlook, though I am sure, quite sure, he did not intend Miss Bennet to overhear him. Of course she does over hear him, and his words so wound Lizzy that she cannot think kindly of him, nor for that matter as the story unfolds can she imagine any reason he could possibly have to keep gazing her way. She asserts 'You shall not intimidate me, Mr. Darcy', and it seems almost comical. Of course, Mr. Darcy's interest in Lizzy is obvious to us, so it is great fun to watch his awkward attempts to engage her, and listen to their pointed exchanges.Well, I am going on too long to be of much entertainment to read. Better to stick with the show. What do you think of Mr. Darcy's suits? Do you not just love his tailor? And I love the fact that the production takes the trouble to give you small pieces that fill out the world in which they live. As they pull away from the dance we pause briefly to see the coachman outside, drinking and having some fun at the expense of the gentry. It was great fun!
Well, I am going on too long to be of much entertainment to read.Nope. Still good. :)
I very much enjoyed the score to this show. The sound track is available to us at my work, and it plays from time to time as it pulls up in the queue. Each time it reminds me of the world this production created, bringing back scenes and characters that have been such good fun this past week. The score did a great job to set the mood of the piece, and is very lovely in its own right.
I just loved Lizzy's spirited defense against Lady Catherine's efforts to bully and push her aside. It was brilliant! Surely now, Lady Catherine demonstrates the arrogance and prideful conceit which we heretofore have been assigning to Mr. Darcy. And Lizzy? Quick, very capable, and in a quiet but forceful way she barbs her back for all Lady Catherine's pretensions of speaking down to her. No wonder Darcy so admires this young woman.Hmm.
Something I've often thought after this scene: I don't think her feelings toward Darcy would have to have changed for her to have refused to comply with Lady Catherine's demands... Luckily for Darcy and his renewed hopes, they had.The most entertaining version of this scene I can recall is the one in the Greer Garson P&P movie. That version may not be so true to the source materials -- I don't remember particularly -- but it was fun!
I was rather surprised when I realized this, but I have gotten so thoroughly spoiled with glorious scenery, magnificent house-settings, truly beautiful costuming, and all the loveliness of the period pieces we've watched, that noticing such things properly in this show was actually an afterthought until I was well into the series. But at several points I paused the DVD and just soaked up the beauty of the gorgeous landscape, or the rich splendor of the ballroom scenes, or the still magnificence of the great house at "Pemberly." What a gift these beautiful productions are.
Oh, yes, it was wonderful! Just the lane they were walking down on that glorious fall morning when Lizzy looks to thank Mr. Darcy for his kindness toward her family, and he admits that in all honesty... he had only been thinking of her. A beautiful seen, and beautifully done.
Hey, is it just me, or does it seem to you that Austen includes far more types of female faults in this book than any other? Obviously, Lizzy is flawed, her tendency to quick judgments (those unfortunate First Impressions!) almost costing her Darcy. (On the other hand, I don't remember Jane's reserve being so clearly pointed to as a fault, even though it leaves Bingley in doubt as to her feelings towards him.)But we also have the worst of the Bennett sisters, Lydia (all impulse and, shall we say, boy-crazy attention-seeking) and Mary (as ill-mannered as Lydia with her somber reproofs of the adults in her company, and assumption of precedence at the piano); and Mrs. Bennett, the perfect Narcissist, her secondary means of control being the nervous condition that develops whenever her initial efforts are thwarted. (With Aunt Phillips in a supporting role ;) as combination gossip and enabler.) Lady Catherine's autocratic arrogance, comical in this particular setting, would easily destroy someone of weaker temperament than Charlotte (Lucas) Collins -- or of stronger temperament than her husband. The Bingley sisters are cats, in the unkindest sense, with none of the warmth and kindness that make their brother so engaging, and all of the arrogance, but none of the industry, of Lady Catherine. (Admittedly, we know almost nothing of poor Anne de Bourgh, except that she has had ill health her whole life, and no longer has the hope of escaping into Darcy's world; and Georgiana Darcy is certainly blameless, as she is depicted as having been a charming innocent, no more romantical that is normal for her age, when she succumbed to Wickham's manipulations.)But all in all, quite the bumper crop of female foibles.
Perhaps so. It's foreign territory to me which, out of prudence purchased at a certain expense, I instinctively avoid commenting upon if at all possible.: )
Well, we pretty much agree, but I look at the story more from the man's perspective (as is our usual), and I find that Mr. Darcy was always an excellent man. Elizabeth Bennet had a tremendous impact on him, and made him aware of some blindness he had to the things he might say and how those things were perceived, but his purpose in saying things was always very straight forward. It is in stark contrast to Mr. Wickham, who treats people abominably and with casual disregard. That clown nearly ruined her, and Jane, and her whole family... and in his running off with Lydia he essentially ransomed her, to whoever would pay and cover his expenses. What an ass. That guy drives me nuts! That is a cruel person. A self-absorbed, shallow, base, cruel person. He appears congenial, but he is not that at all. It is all a blind. But Mr. Darcy, look at all his friends - Colonel Fitzwilliam or Mr. Bingley. These are good, solid men, and they all think very highly of Mr. Darcy, and did so long before Darcy met Miss Bennet. Darcy meeting Miss Bennet made Darcy a better man. Mr. Wickham meeting Miss Bennet excited nothing in Mr. Wickham except the consideration of a scheme to take advantage of her family. I would say that in essentials, both men remained true to who they were. The good news for Miss Bennet was that Darcy really was an excellent man. And the good news for Mr. Darcy was that Miss Bennet was an excellent woman, quite capable to change her opinion as she became more familiar with him.
After watching Mr. Darcy over the course of the show, it is fun to go back and watch it again in view of the man we have come to know him to be. Perhaps the time when he was most greatly misunderstood came after the news of Lydia running off with Mr. Wickham. To watch him again when Lizzy is first speaking of the horrible news she has received, I think of what my own reaction would be. Of course, early on I would be asking her right out, "What news? What has happened?" Care mixed with curiosity would have been my lot, but Darcy is not driven by his own curiosity. He is far more gentlemanly than what I could muster. Every time I see it I have the same reaction, anxious to blurt out "What? What?" And yet there he is, quietly waiting for her to share what she feels comfortable sharing. It is gentlemanly indeed. He waits patiently, ready to hear but not needing to be anything more than a ready listener. One thing about relationships that was pointed out quite well in Owen Wister's The Virginian is that acting in a friendly and familiar manner is not really a friendly thing to do. Salesman routinely assume the guise of a friend, and others that wish to impose upon you in one way or another will do the same. In fact, if the relationship does not exist, it is impolite to behave in such a way, and a true gentleman will not do so. Mr. Darcy does not presume an intimacy with Lizzy that does not yet exist, however much he would like it to develop. His ability to sit and wait upon her was remarkable in its restraint and gentlemanly in its patience. Upon learning of what has occurred with Mr. Wickham, his countenance shows contempt and wounding. He knows the implication immediately: Lizzy is ruined, as is Jane and all the family. He soon becomes somewhat detached as he sets about thinking what he needs to do to address the situation. As Lizzy cries out "How is he to be found? How is such a man to be worked upon?" she is resigned to disgrace. For his part, he is thinking that very thing, how is Wickham to be found, where might Mrs Younge be? And he knows exactly how such a man as Mr. Wickham is to be worked upon, but he cannot let Lizzy know his intentions. The fact is that he loves her. He has no wish to place her in his debt, to purchase her friendship. He needs to make her whole. Then and only then will he be able to pursue her on the terms that he would want for them both. With much occupying his mind and much to be done, he is anxious to be off as soon as possible. Of course, in Lizzy's mind his cool politeness and hasty withdrawal do not stem from his care and concern, but from a desire he has to preserve himself, to escape the association that would be tied to the shame of Lydia running off and sleeping with Mr. Wickham. It was a shame too great for anyone to bridge. She still was thinking that Darcy was a man tied to the views that constrained people like Lady Catherine, but he was not. Lizzy fears she has lost his friendship forever, and to Jane she confides but cannot explain why she dreads the thought of him thinking ill of her. Of course we have an inkling of why such a thing would matter to her, and it has nothing to do with the beautiful grounds of Pemberley. : )All very well though, for it made for a great story!