"And to this purpose"

"If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it." (In other words: rambling analyses, opinions, ideas, views, and comments from an English major, Essay/paper-writing enthusiastic, Austen-loving Master Librarian on, well, Jane Austen...and a whole lot of other things, too.)

"Celebrated Passages are Quoted"

Heidi's favorite quotes

"What is it really like to be engaged?" asked Anne curiously. "Well, that all depends on who you're engaged to," answered Diana, with that maddening air of superior wisdom always assumed by those who are engaged over those who are not."— L.M. Montgomery

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Introducing: The Heroes

I realize that my readers may not be familiar with all of the wonderful men I have chosen to be worthy of voting in the Much-Loved British Period Drama Heroes (in film) Poll. Allow me to remedy that with some introductions.

First, please meet Edward Ferrars, of the 2008 Sense & Sensibility adaptation. An excellent man for Elinor--smart, caring, sincere, considerate. A little hasty in his younger days, but very repentant now. A most wonderful-looking Edward I must say.

Next, well, does he need an introduction? If you are a steady reader, you must know my Man among Men. Dearest Henry Tilney, of the 2007 Northanger Abbey rendition. My funny, teasing, sarcastic, gentleman. Lover of dancing and fun. Still a level head on his shoulder. A forgiving person. A great half-smile. Wonderful sense of humor. Chose religion for his career. He's perfect!

Then there is Tom LeFroy. I have plenty of issues with Becoming Jane, but it had its enjoyable parts. I was a bit annoyed and upset with some of the film's adapting of Tom, but I could not help somehow connecting with him at the end. Even if only for about 20 minutes, something of him still found its way into my heart. And he's not bad looking either (though I liked his looks much better in Penelope--except that isn't a British drama).

Next meet Captain Wentworth of the 2007 version of Persuasion. As my Austen professor once said, he went and now he's worth. And WHOA good looking in the bargain! I could certainly forgive this man any stupidity on his part and going for the silly girl only because he was still hurt after 8 years.

Oh, my amazing William Wilberforce. Amazing Grace is one of my favorite movies ever. And the person it's about, well, he in real life that I have read a bit about is a hero. And Ioan, as always, did an excellent job portraying him. How could you not love someone with such faith, conviction, cause, justice, belief, truth, honesty, kindness, and much more?

Oh, sweet Norman Warne. I love Miss Potter. It is based on the true love story of Beatrix and Norman. He is humble. Tender. Sweetly awkward. I just love him.

Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre of 2006. Need I say more?

The 2005 Pride & Prejudice Mr. Darcy. Though not given as much as he could have worked with, and forced to say some ridiculous un-Austen lines, he still played some parts of Mr. Darcy that spoke closer to me and my tastes than others have done.

Dick Dewy from the great Under the Greenwood Tree. Honest and true. Faithful. Loyal. I'm sure there's more to the scout creed that fits this simple man. Didn't hurt that they made him good looking, too.

John Thornton of North & South is one that takes the entire movie to get to know. This movie is a much more intellectual one for me, and I do enjoy watching this relationship in its varying stages. Much to love about this man, but the last scene--the Train Scene--does me in as it does so many other fans.

Daniel Deronda from the film of the same name just barely made it onto my list. Not that he's not that great, just not all that impressive to me. What I love of him is his love for Miss Lapidoth.

Roger Hamlet from Wives & Daughters has had many an entry mention him. I don't feel I need to extol more about him right now. I'm sure there will be much in future, as will be with some of these other heroes.

Horatio Hornblower as only Ioan can play him. I love him in the first 6 episodes. The last 2, well, I still love him. But not where it concerns his wife.

My John! I don't mind having a picture of him with Bella, for he wouldn't be My John without she who is the focus of his heart. Plus, look at that smile. Oh, yes. I definitely love the mutual friend from Our Mutual Friend.

Angel Clare. Good heavens. If a name like that doesn't stick with you, his very attractive face will! There is little to love from the depressing Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but Angel is the beautiful man who is blinded my typical man-ness and has to learn his lesson. Unfortunately, at great detriment of his own love. It's so tragic one would think it a difficult thing to love him. But with his looks, well, the shallow part of me takes over.

1996 Emma's Mr. Knightley. Enough said.

Toby Stephens makes an entrance again as Gilbert Markham from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Sad parts to this story, yes, but WOW what a man! Completely (and I'll add hopelessly!) devoted to said tenant. Every woman needs such a man to love her as much.

And then there is our Colonel Brandon from the 1995 Sense & Sensibility. The deepest voice ever around. He of disappointed hopes who certainly does not love wisely, but very well. Marianne never deserved him. Few women do when the men are exceptional. That's why we live to deserve them!

This is my favorite part of the 1995 Pride & Prejudice Mr. Darcy: The Look. Every fan knows the scene. It speaks volumes. He does this non-verbal communication well in the movie, which is rather important considering it's, well, Mr. Darcy.

The 1995 Persuasion Captain Wentworth is as good as he is because of the great Anne Elliott. Without his lost heart to her, I don't think I'd be able to like him so much. Probably because I've seen the actor play too many villains. But he did well with this hero.
Will Ladislaw of Middlemarch. He loves from afar, with injustice done toward him without deserving it. No one does, of course. But his only fault was chastely loving a woman who did deserve it when her selfish, jealous, stingy, stupid husband did not even see that a gem was married to him. There was only unhappiness at his death because Dorothea--the very loving and tender--was hurt by so much. I think what most attracts me to Will, aside from his devotion to Dorothea, is his mysteriousness.
Well, there you have them. Wonderful British Period Drama heroes. I hope you enjoyed meeting, or re-meeting, them. They do make the heart happy. Mine, at least!

To the British Period Drama Lovers

It's time to vote for the men we love! And I'm allowing you more than one vote. Because, come on, there are many of them that we love! I have put up the heroes whom I have come to love, at one point of the movie or another. So, in a way, they all have received a vote from me just from making it on the list. But I will be choosing from my very, very favorites--the ones I can (and do!) watch over and over again. Ah. It's a sweet joy. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My P&P Movie Book Club Answers

1. For many people, P&P is their favorite Austen novel/movie. Why do you think that’s true? Is that true for you? Why after 200 years, is this story still so popular? Did you like seeing “updated” versions (ie: P&P: A Latter-day Comedy, Bride & Prejudice)?

I think it’s a favorite because it’s one that is most relatable—misunderstanding and misjudging people. Getting second chances. Being around silly people. A lot.

It isn’t my favorite book, but we are quite close because it was my first Austen. I do wonder if I would have continued on reading Austen if I had encountered a different novel for my first one.

I think the story is still so popular for the same reason it is a favorite for people—people can relate to it.

I love seeing modern adaptations (no matter how odd or annoying) because I love how universal some of the themes are in the book, and I like seeing the cleverness of others.

2. The 2003 movie version is set in a modern LDS society. Discuss the parallels between LDS culture and the P&P 1813 English culture.

Ha ha! What a question! Well, there’s the whole importance of marriage,. And being chaste before marriage and faithful after it. Large families were not as rare. The desperation of some women (and men!) to get married!

3. In the book, Jane is described as being the most beautiful of the Bennet sisters. Did the movie versions you watched stay true to that description? How important is it to you that Charlotte Lucas’ character be “plain-looking”? Was she “plain” in the movie versions you watched?

She’s fine in the spin-off version (LDS and Bride). I think she very well fits in the ’05 version. I think she’s beautiful! In the ’95, I think she could have been, but they put her in the most unflattering dresses and hairstyles—she looked sickly an awkward. Not my image of Jane. I like the one in the 80s version. Not quite what I’d had in mind, but still quite lovely. And she has dark curly hair—YAY1 I can’t remember what she looks like in the Greer Garson version.

I actually hate the whole “plain-looking” part because it makes mankind seem so shallow then. But we still see it today, and often too often. So then it just hurts. But I guess it could be important to show how different she is from the Bennet girls, and how she knows she won’t have many chances at marriage. I think they did a good job in the movies at making her plain (except LDS—Carmen Rasmussen?!), either in looks, or in a gentle, quieter personality that some would think plain compared to a vivacious Bennet with obvious beauty. I think the ’05 and ’95 did very well in their versions of Charlotte.

4. Discuss and compare the portrayals of Mr. Bingley and Caroline Bingley.

Mr. Bingley in all versions (except Bride) make him seem so goofy, clueless, silly, and a bit dumb. I never thought he was like that. I’d have to admit that I much more preferred the one in Bride. Not bad looking either. OK. So I thought the one in ’05 was cute, too, and loved that the actor and actress really did date, but he was just so...airheady! I think the one in the 80s version was all right. Can’t remember the Greer Garson version. (I was in the same singles ward as the LDS Bingley!)

Caroline is always interesting to see how she is portrayed. I liked that in Bride she was slightly more likeable—more real to what I might find in my life. The other Carolines are just over the top and I can’t remember meeting any girl who was that coveting and devious toward me concerning a mutual interest. The Caroline in ’05 seems more of a snob than anything, and I was disappointed that they took away her sister aspect. The ’95 was an excellent example of nouveaux riches and he sneer is classic. But I believe the one I most want to slap is the LDS one.

5. What were your thoughts of the 1940 version (starring Lawrence Olivier)? It gets very mixed reviews.

Well, I love Greer. Always will. She could have been a much better Elizabeth if they’d given her room. And I think Olivier could have been a better Darcy with better material. But re-writing the story in such a way!?!?! Absolutely not!!!! The Lady Catherine opposition is key. You can’t take that away! And what’s with the whole Civil War setting?

6. Most Austen fans adamantly feel that Colin Firth’s 1995 portrayal as Mr. Darcy is the best. Do you? Why or why not? Is he a difficult character to portray? Why? Do you think that the length of the 1995 version (5 hours) has anything to do with that assessment?

In many ways, yes. But I do very much enjoy some thinks that Matthew Macfayden did with him. I saw more of a struggle in him,. And he didn’t need to dive into a pond before I started to like him. It was not until I read an interview of Colin Firth about playing Darcy that I began to understand what he was doing at certain parts of the movie.

I think he can be difficult to portray, because there is so much he has to incorporate, and he’s given so little to do it in. Plus he has to act in a way that you see him as Elizabeth—so you dislike him to begin with and later come to love him. It’s nice to have the 5 hours to watch all that needs to be seen to give you a fuller view of Darcy. But Macfayden did well for a 2-hour version. And, well, I just fall in love with Orlando Seale’s curls! And profession. And accent. And....

7. Is Mrs. Bennet more or less likable onscreen compared to in the book? Which way do you like her most?

I think it depends on the movie version. She is ever so obnoxious in the ’95 version--which I did not get from the book, but still got some great laughs at. Even worse in the Greer Garson version. More endurable in the 80s version. Much more understandable in Bride and ’05. In fact, I love her in Bride because you can see how Mr. Bennet did come to marry her, and that she truly loves all her daughters and does want the very best for them and the family. Some silliness, yes, but not too much. That is the problem with the ’95 version—it takes each character’s flaw(s) and over-magnifies them WAY too much.

8. In your opinion, which movie version is most like the book? Which individual actors best fit their character in age, appearance and disposition? Are there any other additional actors whom you would like to see play those parts? Should only British actors be “allowed” to play Austen characters?

As far as what happens in the book and such, that would be the ’95 version. I know because one assignment in my Austen class was to watch it while following along in the book. (Only time I did not thoroughly enjoy watching the movie.) As far as character portrayals, see previous answer. I think Lizzie is the best in ’95. The worst in ’05. Mr. Bennet in 80s version is most like the one in the book. Many of the characters in the ’05 version were more like how I’d imagined them—in age, disposition, and appearance. They seemed too old in the ’95 version. 80s version was pretty close, too. Greer Garson version was so off.

9. Would Mary have married Mr. Collins had he thought to ask her? Would they make a better match? Think of the different ways that the movies portrayed Mr. Collins shifting his affections from Jane to Lizzie; which one did the best job?

I’ve answered this before with the book questions. I like the LDS version putting the two together. But I still don’t know if he would have thought to ask her. Or if Mary was that interested in marriage. She didn’t seem disappointed that it never came her away. Too wrapped up in her own exhibitions. But then, we don’t really get her side.

I think the ’95 transfer of affections is the funniest. The 80s version most repulsing (as far as him actually transferring and now being interested. I just pity her so much). I think the ’05 version portrayed it best.

10. Discuss the title(s). Who in the story embodies pride and/or prejudice? Which movie is the best at showing these qualities in the characters? Discuss the original title First Impressions and the importance of them in the story.

For most of this answer, I would say see my answers to the book questions. As for the movie portion, I think actually the LDS version shows the best in hurt pride and developed prejudice that is held on to. But ’95 of course is very good, and closer to the book. 80s version did well, too.

11. Which movie version is your favorite? Which version was the first one you ever saw? After watching more than one version, did that opinion change?

I love 3 of them for differing reasons. But overall, I guess I’d have to say the ’95 version.

The first I saw was the 80s version, and I loved it and was loyal to it...because I didn’t know anything else existed! The ’95 had been out for over a year, but I hadn’t been introduced to any post 1990 British period dramas, yet. (So glad I have been now!) I can still remember seeing it. The first time (though now common for me) I ever watched a movie in the kitchen while I cooked.

I was still hesistant about the ’95 version because I did not like Darcy when I first saw it. But then, I saw the first 3 tapes, and was not able to finish watching it until almost an entire year later. So once I saw it all the way through, of course I loved it! I laugh to watch the 80s version and remember how much I had loved it and thought it the best thing ever.

Too much history and connection with the LDS version to not love it. And I was shocked to find myself love the ’05 version as much as I do. If only we could add the music and scenery of ’05 to the ’95. And some of the costumes, too. And, sorry to the loyal ones, but I think Matthew Macfayden is better looking than Colin. He’s more along my kind of looks. Actually, Orlando Seale is. :-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Molly Mormon or Mormon Molly?

I have been much happier over the last 3 weeks. More content, at peace, and with a renewed sense of worth, direction, and joy. All because I made a literary connection. I make a lot of those. But rarely are they as life-changing as this. I know. It sounds like I'm exaggerating. But I'm absolutely serious. This connection has been waiting for me to grasp it from the moment it first entered my life. However, according to a wise Father's time-table, I realized the connection at the time I most needed it in my life.

I think I've mentioned that one of my favorite BBC period drama films is Wives & Daughters.

I decided to re-watch it a few weeks ago, as it is available Instantly on Netflix. (Yay!) It was during this re-watching that the lightning bolt struck with its Ah-ha! And the connections have rolled in ever since.

I am Molly.

She loves to read, gain knowledge, and ponder things. So do I.

Left on her own, her clothing choices can be a little...odd. Same here.

Yet odd or not, she generally goes for simple, modest, and practical. Overall, I think I do, too. (I hope so any how.)

She was taught in the ways of propriety and does her best in trying to live so. If anything could be said of me, it's my emphasis for and on propriety.

She has beautiful, sincere, kind, caring friends. Me, too!!!

And an amazing, incomparable relationship with her sister. Definitely my sister and me.

I may even go so far as say that she and I also share in common
-a love of dressing up
(and occasionally playing with the hair so it looks funky, too)
-a love of thoughtful gifts
-a love of good conversations and laughter
-a love of being out and about, or snug and cosy at home
-a love of nature
-a love of family
-a love of kindred spirits
-a love of smiling
-yet with still a tendency to cry when upset
I totally understand how she feels to be passed over for the obvious beauty.
Yet note that she is no ugly duckling. She is a very lovely young woman herself.

Though I frequently have issues believing it, sometimes I just have to smack some sense into myself and see that I am a beautiful person, too. And it's not just by hair, skin, eyes, etc. It's what is also inside. For, as I read recently in North of Beautiful: "Beauty--real everlasting beauty--lives not on our faces, but in our attitude and our actions. It lives in what we do for ourselves and for others." Sometimes my actions are not so beautiful, but mostly I try to live as a Daughter of God should. One who is

-trying to serve others

-wants to help others be happy

-wants others to know how much I love them

There are times I look in the mirror and truly do see beautiful looking back at me.

But the problem lies when I compare myself to others. Some whose actions were better than mine at particular times. Or who tend to sparkle more brightly than I generally do. Or who are physically more striking and the "obviously beautiful."
I know I shouldn't compare myself. But I do.
Because that's who I see the men showing interest in.
That's who they see, without noticing me right there.
They go for "the obvious."
And I am left alone.
But there is nothing wrong with Molly. She is an absolutely astounding and amazing girl. She's not the showy, obvious kind. She might not have great pizzazz. Sure she was awkward while growing up, but weren't we all? Now she is a quieter beauty. More refined while still being refined. No need to announce it and/or herself to the world. It's special and precious enough for some very worthy and worthwhile person to come discover it. I'd like to think that is me.
And in the end, Molly still finds her happiness.

And there are a couple of other parallels I could make. The world is full of Rogers. I'm not saying that there is some Roger out there who has passed me over now and will eventually realize that I am his best friend and he mine and then we'll be together.
No. I'm saying that there are many men who are pre-Africa Rogers. And Mr. Prestons. And Mr. Coxes. And Mr. Hendersons. They see the Cynthias of the world and that's where their heart goes. Sometimes they fall fast. Sometimes they fall hard. And sometimes they fall completely. And that's not saying it's a bad thing, or that the Cynthias are hateful female competitions. They are lovable in their ways and there need be no begrudgings of her.
Because there are the post-Africa Rogers. They see how wonderful a woman the Mollys are. And how special and perfect the friendship with the Mollys are. And how they cannot bear to go on in life without her by their side.

Happiness does come for our heroine who most truly deserves it.

This kinship to Molly completely turned around things that I had recently been struggling with. It reinforced my Carrot Analogy, which over the last 11 years had grown rather weak and tired. I was doubting it and had lost hope and confidence. Now it is renewed.

It has also shown me that there is so much more of Molly that I should be. That I can be. And that I most dearly want to be.

My life is full of the Mr. Prestons, Mr. Coxes, Mr. Hendersons, and pre-Africa Rogers. They find beauty, attraction, and companionship with the wonderful Cynthias around me. But I can be like Molly where that happens. She still feels it. Oh, yes. She still has her cry over it. But very soon she rallies. Puts on a cheerful countenance and shows forth true happiness for people she loves (in her case Cynthia and pre-Africa Roger). She supports and encourages where it's due, ignoring any unhappiness it might bring her. So I should act, too. No matter what sorrows come to me for being continually passed over, I need to show more happiness and support for those who are enjoying their happiness.

There is no post-Africa Roger in my life. But like Molly, I can still be productive and useful. I can still be ladylike. Visit friends. Be a loving daughter and sister. Learn new things. Develop talents. Serve others. Be there when needed. So many things of, as Sister Oaks puts it, having my eye single to God.

And there will be a post-Africa Roger. He will be just as head-over-heels in love, fascinated, admiring, and wondering of me as all of the Prestons, Coxes, and Hendersons ever were over the Cynthias. Maybe more.

Molly is unashamed. She is honest. She is dutiful. She is sincere. Loving. Patient. Understanding. Kind. Listening. Comforting. Humorous. Intelligent. Supportive. Gentle. Sweet-tempered. Proper. Obedient. Contrite when it is needed. Forgiving. Repentant. Uncomplaining.

She is who I would like to be.

So the answer to that title question, I think, is...


I am in many ways a Molly who is a Mormon.

And I also desire to be a Mormon who is more like Molly.

I feel like a new world has opened to me. I have been so much more at peace and full of joy ever since. It has been the greatest thing. I am very grateful for this literary connection and role model.

As President Hinckley said,

Way to Be!

P.S. I'd heard rumors of this production, but this is the first that I got some information on it. 1) What a fantastic cast! I'm excited just for that! 2) The writer is Sandy Welch--she of the fantastic North & South, the best EVER Jane Eyre, and my oh-so-wonderful Our Mutual Friend. I know! That means this version just has to be amazing! And releasing in Britain this fall. I hope it comes to the U.S. soon. I'm not sure if I'll be able to contain myself!