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EN 1006 Lecture Notes - Sexual Repression, Free Range, Masculinity

Course Code
EN 1006
Alison Halsall

of 3
March 12th 2009
Austen and the creation of English Literature
The Bennet legacy
The prejudice of first impressions
Pride and Prejudice
Individuals negotiating personal needs in relation to external social demands and internal moral
Movement of two individuals towards marriage
Progress towards civility
Jane Austen
Courtship and marriage
Ironically rendered morals of country life
Conduct fiction
Ladies’ fiction
To concerned with local
Held open a new world for women
Is a historical and literary figure
Jane Austen inspires an obsession, approaching frenzy
In films, bringing a text to life for a wider audience
Edward Said Orientalism
What Viewers Want
A high cultural aesthetic that values:
o Literature
o History
o Class hierarchy
o An appreciation of irony and satire
o Englishness
o Dialogue-driven narratives
o Repression of foul language and overt sexuality
The Heritage Film
Industry aims to preserve past glory of British culture and identity through recreation of “great”
To bring viewer back to re-imagines past, past that has been turned into a safe, familiar place
Satisfies longing for a golden age of propriety, decency, courtesy
All characters get their just desserts (Elizabeth gets Darcy and vice versa)
High cultural status of Austen adaptations
Achieved by claiming authenticity that manifests itself through location, costume and acting
The Heritage Film cont.
A longing for a return to pre-feminist past, to stability of gender-fixed positions
Historical dramas performs physical and sexual repression through an over-investment in the
meaningful “look”
Have a distinctly asexual quality
Eroticization of the Male Body
“Darcy Effect”
Licence for female visual/sexual pleasure
Masculinity: English, aristocratic, white, heterosexual, Christian, asexual, and romantic
Bennet family:
Different than most people expect
Mother is harebrained, daughter Lydia, running around with different men
Crazy, chaotic household
Members of family are a contrast of each other
Mr. Bennet overly impressed by her good looks, which she lost
Imbalance in power
Mr. Bennet can brush things off, like crazy rantings of a woman, puts Mrs. Bennet in her place
Contrast between Elizabeth is very extroverted says her piece, interjecting with comments, Jane
is introverted, very reserved
Mr. Bennet is very sarcastic, but bitter person
Does the text idealize Mr. Bennet? No, but we can sympathize with him. He is very distant from
his family, he is a fool because he created so much distraught in the family, he retreats into the
Many of his actions has dire consequences
Different parenting styles. Mrs. Bennet only wants marriage. Mr. Bennet takes a no hands on
approach and gives the girls lots of free range
All characters contribute to dynamic family
Elizabeth and her mother similarities: they both judge people on first impression, very stubborn
Elizabeth and Mrs. Bennet
Similarities between the two:
o Easily impressed by Wickham
o They are ill-bred: Mrs. Bennet in her shamelessness vs. Elizabeth in her naughty
Laughter signals their at times inappropriate and untimely behaviour
Mr. Bennet
Abdicates roles as father
Poor parental model
Makes Elizabeth into a surrogate partner
Distances painful truths through humour
Ignores Elizabeth’s warning about Lydia’s inappropriate behaviour (terrible flirt)
Disregard for family’s social standing and well being
Treats his daughters with sarcasm
A woman’s reputation is her one marketable commodity
Purity and virginity are only marriageable values
Steps outside social norms and is criticized
Her disgrace threatens all the Bennet girls
Eloped with Wickham, affected her entire family
Darcy’s Letter
Produces a rewriting of much that has preceded it
Darcy’s letter causes us to see events and developments between people from another
Emphasizes importance placed on interpretation
Darcy’s letter erodes Elizabeth’s confidence in her first impressions
The Look
Novel foregrounds power of appearances
Original title: First Impressions
Motif of blindness and sigh (in-sight)
Their looks “speak” more truthfully than words