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Essay on Pride and Predjudice

August 12th, 2009

The series of  “Pride and Prejudice” creates a fourth layer that cannot be seen in Austin’s novel, which is not said or done but spoken physically through body language. While Austin positions the reader by accounting the events through the eyes of Elizabeth, she gives the reader the role of an eyewitness. She creates suspense through questioning of Darcy’s character.

The series adapted by Andrew Davies shows the events from a more neutral perspective. With the use of visual, sound, symbolic and editing codes, Davies is able to carefully position the audience and make an impact upon the viewer that offers a more modern role to the viewer. Davies gives the viewer a more independent perspective of both Darcy and Elizabeth. He places reason upon Darcy’s actions and the audience is made to suffer with Darcy, at the same time as being positioned within Elizabeth’s perspective. One does not have to read the novel in order to understand each of the characters and appreciate the beauty and reasons for this story becoming one of the greatest romantic classics of our time. The only film offers a visual account of the tale the novel.

While Austin wrote the book in the eighteenth century for an eighteenth century audience, the film was made for a modern audience. Thus Davies uses the expansion of visual imagery and the use of classical music to describe the social and political aspects of the time, in order to position the audience to understand the differences of each society.

With the use of fast paced, light hearted classical music and editing codes that make an impact on the audience by the use of several images over a period of time the film produces an image of Austin’s world.

The opening scene of the film is used to set the main characters. This positions the audiences and places them in the role of making their judgments of the characters on first impressions. The scene shows two young men galloping across the field toward Netherfield. This communicates to the audience the class of the gentlemen and the power and the strength that they have. The horses give them a wild edge. This mixes with the light-hearted classical music to initiate the tone and the pace of the film. Bingley readily buys Netherfield, demonstrating the spontaneous character that is described in the book. Darcy questions the deal, and state “I guess it will do,” revealing a character with critical judgment, which is as Austin describes him. From this we see Elizabeth run down a hill inspired by seeing two young men galloping across the field. We see her walking toward Loungbourn with flowers instantly, her character is given wild and independent aspects that are uncommon for a lady at the time.

This first scene is implemented to position the audience and give them an understanding of both the characters and the period they are from. We instantly see and understand the 19th century paradigms that the story is created around.

The symbolic use of costumes and locations are used to convey the class barriers. The materialistic features add to the development of the characters. Davies uses juxtaposition of Netherfield and Loungbourn. By showing Loungbourn first we can see that the Bennets are from the upper class. Yet this is quickly contrasted with Netherfield to show the audience that the Bennet’s are from the bottom of the lower class and the others being at the top of the upper class. By using these tools, the viewers are positioned to understand the society and where each of the characters are placed in that society. The role of the audience in this incident is to take both images in and see the structure of the society. We are given the role of placing these characters in our minds and making our own judgments of them. The same comparisons are made with the costumes of the characters. The Bennet girls wear mostly cotton prints. This is contrasted with the silk and the embroidery worn by the Bingly sisters who also wear accompaniments, such as large feathers to convey the over the top snobbish outlook that they have. This is done to position the audience to favor the Bennet sisters over the Bingly sisters. We are instantly positioned to dislike the Bingly sisters. The positioning is in unison with the Merryon community’s perspectives.

A lot of the mood is done with music and close-ups the music is draining , when Mr. Bennet is working at the books, a close-up is used with the music to show Jane when she realizes that she has to marry for money and not love in order to save her family from poverty. The audience is positioned to feel sympathy for the Bennet’s. Music is also implemented throughout the movie in scene such as the balls the music is light and cheerful to show the positive connotations associated with these events, positioning the audience to see the importance that the balls have on the community. Close up’s on Liddia show the immaturity that she has and on the Bingly sisters to show the disapproval that they have with the community.

Although the movie is also centered around Elizabeth the appearance of Darcy is shown in greater detail than in the book. Davies chooses to reveal Darcy both within society and by himself. This demonstrates to the audience the true character of Darcy without the perspective of Miss Bennet. Positioning the viewer to understand the character of Darcy earlier than Elizabeth does allows us to sympathize with him.

The scene in which we see Darcy dive into the dam and are shown him swimming underwater, reveals to the audience a young man, connected with nature, harmony and stripped of any obligations toward the society in which he lives. At the same time, we are also positioned to see the world through the eyes of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Our role is to see both sides and that is where the suspense of the film lies. This is opposed to Austin’s novel where the role of the audience is synchronizing with that of Elizabeth’s in trying to understand the character of Darcy.

The attraction that Darcy has to Elizabeth is seen a lot earlier in the film using visual imagery. Darcy confers with Bingly that Elizabeth is “she is not hansom enough to tempt me,” yet through visual imagery the camera shows Darcy’s gaze upon Elizabeth to be the opposite of what he has just said. The audience is positioned from the start to see the romance of the two.

The use of visual imagery offers an interpretation of Austin’s novel. The dance that Darcy and Elizabeth share physically places them side by side and working in harmony, while they are coming close to an intellectual disagreement.

The letter that Elizabeth receives from Jane describing her visits with the Bingly sisters, the use of editing using a voice-over of Jane and contrasting this with images of the coldness that Jane received represents the goodness of Jane’s nature that Austin describes in her novel.

The letters are played out with the use of sound, visual and editing codes. Davies uses voice-overs blended into recounts of the characters actions to give a deeper visual account of the events, especially regarding Liddia’s elopement with Wickham. Here we see Darcy and Wickham in London and Liddia’s wedding in detail. Austin dealt with the recount lightly. The use of detail with this issue gives the audience more understanding of the male characters that are not explained in the book. This again neutralizes the audiences the position and shifts it from Austin’s positioning.

Through these methods the viewer is positioned to sympathize with Elizabeth and view the world through her eyes; we suffer her pains and dislike those who she dislikes. Yet we also are given an idea of Darcy a lot earlier than Elizabeth realizes his true character. We are given the role of the onlooker in the film, which neutralizes our perspectives to entertain a more modern audience.
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