Drunken Austen heroines

Okay, I’m just gonna say it. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, you might want to avoid Netflix’s new adaptation. Whoever wrote it decided to have the main character (played by Dakota Johnson) speak directly into the camera. Even with an English accent, she just doesn’t capture the tortured inner life of Anne Elliot. She’s entirely too upbeat and bubbly.

The very demure, oft imposed upon, modest and virtuous Anne Elliot?

For those of you who don’t know the story, here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Boy and girl meet and fall in love
  • Girl is “persuaded” not to accept boy’s proposal (usual reasons: lack of money, social status)
  • Boy goes to sea, makes a fortune and returns

Girl, meanwhile, has been treated as person of little consequence by her vain and silly relatives and, at age twenty-seven, is considered a spinster with few prospects.

For those of you with zero interest in Jane Austen, here’s another mural. This one is of the reservoir near my house.

In her earlier novels, Austen’s protagonists snidely mocked the societal norms that forced women to marry or live a life dependent on the kindness of relatives. But the mocking was never in anger; just frustration. In Persuasion, Austen took the gloves off. Vain and silly characters are no longer also lovable. They’re just vain and silly people who cause pain to others.

As you see, these murals have been set in recessed frames in a brick wall. This one invites the viewer to find five animals. I can only see butterflies and birds.

In the book, when Anne Elliot feels sorry for herself, she takes a long walk. In the movie, she drinks. I’ll have to reread the books because I can’t remember an Austen heroine ever dragging a bottle upstairs to bed and getting snookered. But it has been a while. Do y’all recall any drunken Austen heroines?

And let’s discuss Captain Wentworth, the jilted lover, the man deemed not worthy to marry into the Elliot family. Having returned a wealthy sea captain, why would he ever settle for the aging spinster who’d already rejected him? In the book, he shows little sign of his true feelings. He’s a proper English gentleman. So we agonize with poor Anne. Will he forgive her and see that she is the only woman for him?

In the Netflix adaptation. Sigh. Have you seen Dakota Johnson, friends? Poor Captain Wentworth can’t help drooling all over himself every time he sees her. Stiff upper lip, hurt pride be damned. It’s only a matter of time, misunderstandings, and miscommunications until he finally admits, his goose is cooked.

Supposedly there are fifteen animals hidden in this picture.

But if you’re looking for a lighthearted though predictable romance, set in the beautiful countryside of Southern England, ignore me and enjoy the show!

22 thoughts on “Drunken Austen heroines

  1. Hi Jan,

    Yeah, while lying in bed last night I started to watch it on my little android. Not that I’m a big fan of Austen, but some of her stuff I do like. Anyway, I watched this thing for about twenty minutes and I started to have this bad feeling like this was a collision of LA with England. I’ve met people like DJohnson and their she was, but in 1800s England. If this had been a science fiction movie, I’d have liked it, but I kept expected DJohnson to hit the bars of West Hollywood, but no, she just gave me those looks from across the dance floor. Anyway, I turned it off and read some Neruda and he was sailing around the world like a broom sweeping up after the dead. Thanks. Duke

    1. I did my senior thesis on inconsistencies in that novel so I’m always interested in how it is interpreted. It was published after her death so there’s a lot of speculation that she may have edited out a lot of those inconsistencies had she lived. I did watch the whole thing but most of the time was paying attention to other things.

  2. Thanks, Jan! I just read a fairly long interview with Dakota Johnson in Vanity Fair and she seems like an interesting human. I also watched most of The Lost Mother (but still need to finish it) and she’s (IMO) quite good in that. Will check out Persuasion sometime soon, but based on these reviews by you and Duke, it sounds more like the shoe Fleabag than Austen 🙂

    1. Oh she’s very good in the movie. She just wasn’t the Anne Elliot I have in my head. I think Austen’s heroines might be considered to prim and proper for modern audiences to accept and so Hollywood has decided to make them more modern.

  3. She did some movie about an Inuit who was told to seek the Fathers of the Great Nation and tell them they’re screwing up the world. She was OK in that. And the Peanutbutter Falcon too…

    Found 3 butterflies and 2 birds = 5
    And found the 15 in the second. Don’t miss the 3 quail in the middle, and a bee in a flower top left.

  4. Won’t be on my list but then I think most movie adaptations of books fall far short, although some are so off as to be horrid annoying or even disgusting. I like the murals!

  5. HI Jan, I am not a big Austen fan but I can’t imagine her characters would drink. Only Scarlet O’Hara did that [smile]. I found 5 creatures in the first one and 15 creatures in the second, but I had to enlarge the picture.

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