EN 1006 Lecture Notes - Sexual Repression, Cultural Capital, Jane Austen

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Published on 17 Apr 2013
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English 1100 B March 12,
2009
Jane Austen Continued
Pride and Prejudice and other novel adaptations
She has become branded
A high cultural aesthetic that values:
oLiterature
oHistory
oClass hierarchy
oAn appreciation of irony and satire
oEnglishness
oDialogue-driven narratives
oRepression of foul language and overt sexuality
Many of Jane Austen’s adaptations belong to a genre of film
known as heritage film
oTo document and preserve past culture
These films are quite detailed in terms of set design in order to
highlight the historical environment
Adaptations of Austen’s text have tended to remain historical
and not adapted for a modern audience, hence the audience
must place themselves according to the time of the narrative
The Heritage Film
Industry aims to preserve past glory of British culture and
identity through recreation of “great” literary classics
To bring viewer back to re-imagined past that has turned into a
safe, familiar place
Satisfies longing for a golden age of propriety, decency, courtesy
These films create a specific type of capital (cultural capital)
High cultural status of Austen adaptation achieved by claiming
authenticity that manifests itself through location, costume and
acting
oA sense of nostalgia – looking at the past with a sense of
(lost) glory
Specifically looking at gender relationships
A longing to return t the pre-feminist past
Back to gender fixed positions
A world where stereotypical behaviours are
understood and celebrated (also dealing with social
class duties)
Historical dramas perform physical and sexual repression
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through and over-investment in the meaningful “look”
oIntimacy is conveyed by touching a hand, close interaction,
not overt sexuality
Have a distinctly asexual quality
Eroticization of the Male Body
“Darcy effect”
oSuggests contemporary adaptation has become a license
for visual/symbolic sexuality
License for female visual/sexual pleasure
Masculinity: English, aristocratic, white, heterosexual, Christian,
asexual and romantic
Jane Austen has become synonymous with Englishness, satire,
irony and greatness of English literature
Think about how Austen has been packaged in film or television
adaptations
oHow is it constructing the past
oWhat was it all about
oAlso tells us about how Jane Austen was packaged
The Bennet Family (Pride and Prejudice)
In balance in power between the two characters (Mr. and Mrs.
Bennet)
oMr. Bennet puts Mrs. Bennet in her place
Contrast between the siblings
Elizabeth and Mrs. Bennet
Similarities between the two:
oEasily impressed by the Wickham
oThe are ill-bred: Mrs. Bennet in her shamelessness vs.
Elizabeth in her naughtiness
Mr. Bennet
Abdicates role as father
Poor parental model
Makes Elizabeth into a surrogate partner
oSees his Elizabeth as his match more than his wife
oEx. Invites Elizabeth in mocking his heir
Distances painful truths though humour
Ignores Elizabeth’s warnings about Lydia’s inappropriate
behaviour
oEncourages Elizabeth’s spirit and energy
oElizabeth has a tendency to be attracted to many men
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Disregard for family’s social standing and well being
Elizabeth is worried Lydia’s behaviour will ruin the reputation of
the family as she is a young flirt; Mr. Bennet ignores the
behaviour and treats Lydia’s behaviour as child-like
He reuses to acknowledge Lydia’s elopement is his fault
Lydia
A woman’s reputation is of utmost importance
oAlso her marketable commodity
Purity and virginity are only marriageable values
Steps outside social norms and is criticized
Her disgrace threatens all the Bennet girls
oDue to her relationship with Wickham outside marriage
oThis adds to Lydia’s poor and selfish judgment
Darcy’s Letter
Produces a rewriting of much that has preceded it
Darcy’s letter causes is to see events and developments
between people from another perspective
Emphasizes the importance placed on interpretation
Darcy’s letter erodes Elizabeth’s confidence in her first
impressions
Austen’s novel is clearly concerned with appearances or (first)
impressions
Original title: First Impressions
Motif of blindness and sigh (in-sight)
Their looks “speak” more truthfully than words
Elizabeth is unaware of Darcy’s gaze and sight as a sign of his
interest in her
Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship build’s a reform of social
constructs and norms, the male and female character
oThe marriage seals this ideology
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