Movie Night: Becoming Jane

October 30, 2008

I rented Becoming Jane to watch again.  And since I had the DVD at home I went ahead and watched the commentary track.  It was pretty interesting, especially the parts that they told you how they had changed the real known history of Jane Austen to make a more entertaining movie.  In fact they used many of the plot points of Austen’s novels to flesh out the story lines, like how Mansfield Park was supposed to be based on Jane’s brother’s romance with their cousin.  I think that my favorite part was how there is record of the Austen family staying on a certain street in London.  There were only five houses on that street and no inn and the only people that the Austens would have know would have been Judge Langlois, Tom Lefroy’s uncle and benefactor.  So that’s how they deducted that Jane and Tom’s relationship continued past the two meetings that there is direct evidence for; that trip was about a month after they first met.

What else… the cousin (the one who married the brother) was the widow of a French Aristocrat.  And one of Jane’s other brothers was adopted by like the third riches man in England.  And Tom Lefroy became the Prime Minister of Ireland during the potato famine.  Oh and then we have Jane Austen, inventor of the omniscient narrator.  All these fancy people hanging out together.  So what’s the difference from today?  How come pastors’ daughters don’t move in the upper realms of society?  It’s the rise of the middle class.  The fact that so many more people can afford to keep themselves in a comfortable manner.  So in Edwardian times connection and family were almost everything… you could be struggling to get by and still be seen as high society.  In fact that conflict between money and status is a major theme of all of Jane Austen’s novels.   Because she was witnessing the first time when money could buy the entry ticket to a respected life.  Now that’s about all you can do is buy your way in.

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