Posts Tagged ‘emma thompson’

Sense and Sensibility Chps1-12

Alright, I have already finished reading this section of Sense and Sensibility, so I took the time this morning to go over what I’ve read and make comments, etc.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

I was impressed with how short a section could move the action to Devonshire so quickly. The two adaptations, Emma Thompson’s 1995 and Andrew Davies’ 2008, extended the Norland activities, so when I went into reading this, I expected to come across almost the same type of stuff that they’d dramatized.

But no, it seems in the novel, we get a shorter, far quicker glimpse of Norland. The opening pages confused me–there had been another gentleman who’d owned Norland before Mr Henry Dashwood, which I didn’t know about. Then exposition quickens the pace and moves us to Mr Henry Dashwood’s death, his son’s subsequent promise to him, etc etc.

Character changes/fill-in are abundant between book and adapts. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised with this, but Mr John Dashwood’s character description surprised me. The adapts seem to portray John as a sort-of caring but easily persuaded man (these days we’d call him whipped). Especially in the 2008 adapt, John seems homely and wants to give his half-sisters a lot of money. But in the novel he is portrayed as being just as mean-spirited as his wife, which doesn’t necessarily fit in with the dialogue between him and Fanny.

Lady Middleton has more depth here as well. In 2008, she hardly says a word and seems rather negative or self-serving. But in the book, she’s calm if reserved and proud of her eldest child. Colonel Brandon’s introduction is as rapid as that of Edward’s. One minute he’s not there, then suddenly he is. We get a description of him after-the-fact, provided by Elinor.

I loved the line on Mrs Jennings: “And she had now therefore nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world.” This amply states Mrs Jennings’ main goal in life in one sentence and makes her out to be a caricature at the same time.

I was also surprised that we did not get to see Edward coming to Norland. His relationship with Elinor is so distant from us in the novel that I was surprised when the narration slipped in Edward’s name. Like, what? Edward’s here? I want more of their romance. It doesn’t seem as believable to me that Edward and Elinor fall in love as it does in the adapts because we don’t even see them together before the idea of marriage between them is presented.

In the adapts, we are fortunate enough to have visuals of Edward and Elinor together. In 1993, they persuade Margaret to come out of hiding but tricking her. Then Elinor watches as Edward and Margaret go outside and battle. They take rides together. In 2008, we see them walking outside, talking about the death of parents and what Edward’s family expects of him. She beats a carpet when he comes upon her. Etc.

To me, all of this is very effective for the building of a romance between them. But perhaps the distance of this relationship in the novel is to distance the readers from expecting a marriage between them. The women in the family get excited at the prospect of the marriage, and the adapts seem to induce the viewers to get excited as well. But being privy to the marriage third-hand may let the reader know that there is trouble up ahead and the marriage may not come to pass.

Or perhaps it is to reflect Elinor’s personality. Elinor is restrained; she wouldn’t show her emotions unless the situation absolutely warranted it, or her feelings her more moderate. But with Marianne and Willoughby, we are shown an abundance of their love because both of those lovers are very open in their feelings. In contrast, the love between Elinor and Edward is hidden because they are both reserved. Hmm. I already feel smarter.

Some things that I was thinking of during the threshold period between Norland and Barton Cottage: what does Jane Austen mean by furniture? At one point, she mentions that the furniture, which is being sent to Devonshire by the sea, is “household linen, plate, china, and books” (21). How is any of that furniture? And what other pieces of furniture would Mrs Dashwood send by water, since the cottage was ready furnished? I was also entertained by Mrs Dashwood’s ideas of renovating the cottage, making it bigger, when (if) she had any money in the spring. My mother and I hardly have any money to buy new paint for the walls, and Mrs Dashwood believes she’ll have money for construction. I doubt it.

Next up! The horse! How insipid could Marianne be that she wanted her family to starve so that she could have Willoughby’s horse? It irks me that she thinks only of herself and doesn’t think of the money that such large-size gifts would require to maintain. Yes, Marianne, how romantic a notion it would be to ride a horse that is “exactly calculated to carry a woman” (don’t get me started on the misogyny of that line), and starve yourself at the same time too!

I was impressed that Andrew Davies chose to include the conversation around the horse between Marianne and Elinor and Willoughby. Willoughby accidentally walks in and discovers just how poor they are, but doesn’t turn away from her, keeps on loving her. I think that is the only part in 2008 that raises his character in my estimation.

I don’t really like Willoughby at all. I feel so sorry for Colonel Brandon throughout the book and both adapts. Though I like Dominic Cooper, who plays Willoughby in 2008, I just can’t get into him. I don’t feel sorry for him at all.

I do admit that I am one of those people who will probably have seen the adapts before reading the book (exceptions: Twilight and HP).  Someone should do a study on what people get from adaptations versus from the books themselves.


Book: Sense and Sensibility

Author: Jane Austen

Section: Chapters 1-12

POV: 3rd-person limited