For this an extremely special post-Valentine’s job edition the Anatomy the a Scene, ns am showing my love because that you every by giving you a really special gift: a Pride and also Prejudice piece that doesn’t begin with a cutesy “it is a fact universally identified …” joke. Due to the fact that yes, i think we deserve to all safe agree that Pride and also Prejudice has actually rightly earn its place as one of the many popular and also acclaimed novels in the English literary canon and also that it features one of the most widely-beloved romantic pairings. Jane Austen’s novel has inspired film, television, radio and theatre adaptations, clothing and also accessories, a organize of unofficially sequels and also spin-offs, and of food fanfiction. We love us some Lizzie and also Darcy.

Generally speaking once I create this attribute I try to go a fine line when choosing a step to study. The scene needs to it is in important sufficient to the story to do the reduced in multiple adaptations yet not so ubiquitous that ns feel choose it’s to be done to death. When it concerns Elizabeth and Darcy, though, every scene feels iconic. The said and also seeing together it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ll operation the hazard of being trite and talk about one that the many memorable moment in Austen’s novel: Darcy’s an initial proposal.

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After a collection of prickly, charged, and occasionally azer encounters, Darcy confesses his love for Elizabeth and also proposes to she in this scene. Darcy (arrogantly, obliviously) declares the his feelings for Elizabeth exist versus his will and, because of her worse status, his better judgement, but that they cannot be helped. Elizabeth, understandably offended and also still reeling native the understanding that it was by Darcy’s hand the Jane and also Bingley were separated and also (she is brought about believe) that Wickham has actually suffered a shocking disinheritance, refuses.


The scene happens at approximately the halfway suggest of the novel and certainly its transforming point. The adaptations the this scene I’ll be looking at are from: the 1995 miniseries adapted by Andrew Davies and also directed by Simon Langton; Garinder Chadha’s 2004 Bollywood-influenced romcom modernization, Bride and Prejudice; and also the 2005 Joe wright film.

First up: the now-classic Pride and Prejudice miniseries, very first broadcast ~ above the BBC in the autumn of 1995. Clocking in at three hundred and also twenty minutes, Davies and Langton’s adaptation can absolutely boast being the most thorough adaptation that Austen’s novel. Small is truncates or sacrificed here and also Davies has received tremendous phrase for maintaining as lot of her plot and prose as possible and because that brilliantly rendering the manners of Austen’s world on the screen.


In this version, Elizabeth Bennett is played by Jennifer Ehle and Fitzwilliam Darcy is famously play by Colin Firth. Cards top top the table: it’s difficult to it is in objective about Colin Firth’s Darcy. For me and, ns suspect, plenty of women of my generation, the is Darcy. He’s the first Darcy we witnessed on screen and saturated late-’90s literature pop society to together an level that he to be the Darcy few of us were currently imagining once we first picked up Austen’s novel

But imprinting aside, I believe there’s a factor Colin Firth is the Darcy of ours hearts (and it’s not just his lush head of curls, strong chin, or his wet shirt). Firth gets it. He gets what renders Darcy tick and also what renders his female audience tick: a throbbing heart trapped under class of shyness, pretension, and social convention a meter thick.


Up until this point Firth offers a relatively restrained performance yet in this step his Darcy literally can not sit still. As soon as he concerns call top top Elizabeth at the Collins’ home, she sits down and also invites the to follow suit. The does, for a moment, yet he’s immediately up again.

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He literally cannot sit still: one minute he paces the room and also the next transforming to face Elizabeth, and then the next transforming his ago on her. Firth’s performance provides the impression that a guy beside himself; a male overcome, undone, and practically helpless. Ehle’s Elizabeth, by contrast, barely moves, the controlled flash of an eye or tilt the the chin send the variety of emotions she is experiencing.

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The actors’ performances, linked with Langton’s skilled blocking, suggest the strength dynamics in between Lizzie and also Darcy. Transparent the scene, Elizabeth is sit while Darcy stands yet rather than shoring increase Darcy’s power, this contrast undermines it. Darcy may have the higher some interesting standing, however he is still the one literally the end of control. Elizabeth deserve to remain seated and also still have command the the scene.

Firth’s delivery mirrors this indecisive, frenetic action. Number of times he opens his mouth come speak before thinking the better of it. By the time he actually does job-related up the courage, he’s almost gasping. His line delivery, always clipped and also abrupt, is hurried here, together if that is make the efforts to press the words out of his mouth to acquire it anywhere with.

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Most significantly, once he claims the indigenous “love” his voice division slightly and he fall it come a near-whisper. Document this under “Firth gets it”: in this one word he conveys the Darcy is completely enamoured but likewise so completely embarrassed. It’s specifically this tension that provides Darcy simultaneously nearly-irresistable yet utterly unmarriageable. Sure, it’s romantic to have a man admit his feelings because that you, however if that can’t to speak the world “love” there is no flinching, the isn’t because that you (yet).

Langton visually displayed the distance and difference in between Elizabeth and also Darcy by shoot the two characters in difference backdrops in ~ the very same set. Transparent the scene Elizabeth is shot in front of a home window partially obscured by a white, gauzy curtain and also partially open to disclose a sun-drenched lawn.This backdrop suggests a wholesomeness and lack the pretension Langton reinforces throughout the series (see shots of Elizabeth frolicking through a dog or accurate skipping with a field).

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Darcy, by contrast, is shot against the life room wall with the fussy, suffocating brocade wallpaper almost overwhelming him. Where Elizabeth’s backdrop is evocative that a naturalness or even wildness, Darcy’s is an aesthetic representation of the weight of convention closeup of the door in ~ above him.

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If we check out this scene this way, it visually lays the groundwork for things to come. For sure it’s no simultaneous that, later on in the series, the moment Elizabeth begins to build feelings because that Darcy is the same minute as the notorious lake scene — Darcy’s own minute of wildness and also communion v nature.

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Bride andPrejudice is Gurinder Chadha’s 2004 romcom modernization the Austen’s novel, a joyous genre-bender and also culture-blender the mixes Austen’s novel with cheerful Bollywood-inspired musical sequences and also surprisingly frank society commentary.

In Chadha’s film, Lizzie Bennett i do not care Lalita Bakshi, a farmer’s daughter living through her sisters in the town of Amritsar and also Fitzilliam Darcy comes wilhelm Darcy, one American hotelier who is visiting India v his friend, Balraj. Darcy is instantly taken through Lalita, yet less so through India. In this true modernization that Austen’s story, Chadha insightfully recasts Darcy’s classism and snobbery together racist stereotyping and also ignorance: he describes the world of her town as Indian “hicks,” he implies that Indian women space “just an ext simple” 보다 American women, and also he is disdainful of arranged marriages. Lalita is easy to understand offended and dismisses him.

Darcy right here is played by martin Henderson and, with no offense intended to Mr. Henderson, his casting is the film’s greatest flaw. He’s aggressively fine: handsome in a square-jawed, even-featured Abercrombie type of way way, however slightly bland and definitely no complement for the incandescence Aishwarya Rai. Rai is fantastic modern Lizzie; she’s lively, imperious, and also quick-witted, v a truly impressive glare that she deploys throughout this certain scene to good effect.

In this variation of the step — not a proposal but its contemporary narrative analogue, the first “I love you” — Lalita, she sisters and also her mother have left India to to visit the wedding of your relative, Mr. Kohli, and also Lalita’s best friend, Chandra Lamba. The cross-cultural influence of the film space on full screen in this step of a heart-to-heart in between an Indian woman and also an American man throughout an Indian wedding ~ above the grounds of one LA hotel landscaped come conjure one English garden.

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Chadha’s adaptation the this scene hits on every the necessary points native the novel: Darcy is in love through Lalita regardless of his far better judgement and also his mother’s wishes; Lalita is insulted ~ above her very own behalf and incensed on instead of of the wronged Wickham and also especially her heartbroken sister, Jaya; Lalita declares that Darcy is the last person she might ever want. In fact, one of Chadha’s greatest accomplishments of cinematic wizardry is the truth that her film manages to include every one of Austen’s major plot points and multiple music numbers in a running time of less than 2 hours.

While lot of the an interpretation has to be maintained, Austen’s prose itself has actually been appropriately modernized here. There is “no ardent admiration,” only love, and also Darcy clearly admits the he is jealous of Wickham quite than pettishly commenting on Elizabeth’s “interest in the gentleman’s affairs.” most significantly, though, is the Lalita not only accuses Darcy of pride and arrogance, but also — in a callback to their first meeting as soon as she sized him up together an American imperialist — that intolerance and insensitivity. This comment is an especially pointed since in this version, the audience has already seen the breakthrough of Darcy together a legit romantic interest and also potential partner for Lalita and also a basically an excellent guy well-liked by his child sister.

This leads me to an additional interesting aspect of this scene: where it falls in the larger story. In Austen’s novel, Darcy’s an initial proposal comes prior to he and Elizabeth begin to spend an ext time together. That happens before she watch Pemberley and hears just how highly world speak of him and before she meets his sister.

But Chadha is extremely adept in ~ restructuring Austen’s marital relationship plot come fit the contours of the usual romcom plot. Generally speaking, the romcom develops along the adhering to lines: a meet-cute, sometimes complied with by a clash, and also then a sluggish romantic build-up. Just when the connection seems nearby to gift realized (typically by a statements of love), over there is some sort of misunderstanding the drives the pair apart briefly prior to the last reunion.

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Chadha smartly pushes this step forward and uses it, specifically Lalita’s exploration of Darcy’s role in parting Jaya and also Balraj, together the Misunderstanding. It’s a clever rigid move and demonstrates her capacity to truly adapt and also update Austen and also to make the classic novel she own.

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Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation the Pride and also Prejudice (coming just a year after ~ Chadha’s) has been correct lauded by movie critics, yet occupies a rather uneasy position in Austen scholarly and fan circles. That is regularly perceived together being no faithful sufficient or make the efforts too tough to be modern, and it appears to exist under the zero of the BBC miniseries the a te earlier.

To my mind, what yes, really distinguishes a great or in ~ least interesting adaptation is simply having a take. There can only be so numerous scrupulously faithful adaptations of standard novels and also if you’re adapting one that already has an incredibly faithful and also incredibly popular adaptation in existing memory, well, you might as well try an angle.

Wright’s film is not so much an adaptation of a novel however of a reading experience. His Pride and also Prejudice, to mine mind, records the feeling of analysis (and loving) Pride and Prejudice because that the first time. The an ext you reread Austen, particularly as one adult, the an ext you appreciate the thin perfection of she novels: your intellectualism, wit, construction, prose, and precise development that characters. yet I think younger, first-time readers — particularly of the romantically-inclined variety — gain swept far in the swoon of the all and this is the Pride and also Prejudice that seems aimed squarely in ~ them.

Deborah Moggach’s screenplay mixes part Austen’sprose with a great deal of initial dialogue, which periodically works and also sometimes lands v a little bit of a clang, as shown in this specific scene (“Well that’s since she’s shy!” is the kind of formulation it’s difficult to buy together eighteenth-century speech).

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Visually, Wright’s Pride and Prejudice is prefer Jane Austen by method of the Brontë sisters, v gorgeous, saturation cinematography that’s all rolling, heathered hills, moody moors and rain-drenched stone. The tone of the movie is simultaneously much more sensual and an ext youthful than most Austen top top screen.

The later on is particularly true the Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth. Elizabeth is, ~ all, not yet one-and-twenty, and there is a youthful impulsiveness come Knightley’s Lizzie the is quite various from Ehle’s centered, near-unflappable performance. Knightley’s line deliveries are much more emotionally charged; often she blurts out some of Lizzie’s most renowned quips and then looks contempt shocked in ~ herself. It’s one insightful selection actually quite continuous with a character that is quick to do judgements.

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The proposal step is a an excellent example of this impetuousness; Elizabeth starts the step coolly, however her emotions seem to change the ladder until, by the end, she is nearly shouting in ~ Darcy.

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While the emotional weight of the BBC miniseries adaptation the this scene fell to Darcy, below it belongs to Elizabeth. Macfadyen’s yearning, hangdog expression alters only contempt from when he provides his initial declaration to once he realizes his rejection; it provides the impression of a Darcy that approached this proposal through something much less like a real hope and much more like a require for an emotional exorcism.

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MacFadyen also delivers Darcy’s first few lines in rapid-fire succession. Even Knightley’s Elizabeth look at confused; it’s only until the blurts “I love you” that she really seems able to comprehend his meaning.

Wright pulls out all the stop to provide the scene a distinctly sexual charge. The borrows a variety of tropes from romance novels and also films including the putting rain that pipeline his hero and heroine sopping wet and also the the swelling music that opens the scene. Lizzie, get over with exertion indigenous fleeing a church, loosens she collar together she leans against a pillar.

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Wright also has Darcy accidentally frighten Elizabeth, setting the stage for his speech with a jolt that adrenaline coursing v Elizabeth’s body. The majority of the conversation starts with the pair standing number of feet apart. As soon as Elizabeth mentions Wickham — Darcy’s romantic and, if us follow that line to its endpoint, sexual rival — the Darcy take away a step closer.

And then, that course, there is the controversial almost-kiss. After ~ Elizabeth shoots out that the is “the last guy I might ever be prevailed upon to marry,” this Darcy appears even an ext drawn come her, closeup of the door his eyes and inclining his mouth toward her. For she part, Elizabeth doesn’t flinch but actually leans into him before drawing back, again spring surprised in ~ herself.

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What Wright gift is a passionate physical attraction that has been underpinning Darcy and Elizabeth’s interactions because they very first met, one that has pertained to a near-climax in this moment, the apex that his admiration and her indignation. Is this what Austen intended? almost certainly not, but, at the same time it’s not quite a fabrication (after all, Darcy does excellent Elizabeth’s “fine eyes” and also she later admits him“handsome”) together an acceleration and also acase of making the subtext text.

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Even with only a decade between all three adaptationsthese feel favor three very different interpretations that the scene, with different chronological, historicaland physical settings and reasonably different performances and also tones. But all three, i think, fight on what makes this scene so perennially appealing: the mix of anticipation, disappointment, and promise. Some of the biggest pleasure is pleasure one of two people anticipated or deferred and also this scene supplies both. Readers gain therealized satisfied of theemotional declarationtheyhave surely been anticipating because the moment Elizabeth and Darcy metcombined withthe thrill of discovering they’ll get to clock the romance proceed to unfold since that proposal? They’ll have to wait for it.