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Movies Based on J. Austen’s Books Review


Both movies Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen are adaptations of the author’s novels. The films aim to describe the history of England, where women possessed numerous issues of oppression and inequality. The movies also illustrate how greed and financial gains shape cultural norms and customs. A non-narrative novel is a phenomenon characteristic of English literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. The synopsis can be described as a story of young women in a high patriarchist system, where they struggle to acquire protection and independence. The plot of both films possesses similarities, where the main characters seek a proper partner.

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Plot 1  Overview

From the philological point of view, preserving the famous irony of Jane Austen, manifested in the characters’ speech, seems to be one of the most difficult tasks for scriptwriters. In this case, the scriptwriters will have to transform the author’s words into replicas of one of the heroes or compose statements similar in style and tone. Fortunately, Jane Austen’s texts contain delightful dialogs that can often be brought to the screen almost intact.

In the family of a small nobleman, Mr. Bennet, there are five girls who are Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. Mrs. Bennet, worried that the Long Bourne estate is inherited on the male line, is struggling to find profitable parties for her daughters. At one of the balls, the Bennet sisters are introduced to Mr. Bingley, a wealthy bachelor who recently settled in Netherfield, and his friend, Mr. Darcy. Bingley is fascinated by the eldest Miss Bennet. While the good-natured Bingley earned the sympathy of everyone present, Darcy’s arrogant behavior makes a disgusting impression and arouses dislike for Elizabeth.

However, Miss Austen often resorts to using indirect speech and describing replicas of dialogue, rather than citing them verbatim on the pages of the novel. One of the most difficult scenes in this regard seems to be Mr. Darcy’s unsuccessful confession of love for Elizabeth. As you know, Jane Austen does not reproduce the words so angry with her heroine, but simply describes them. In such cases, the scriptwriters need to compose phrases that combine with the rest of the dialogue in the novel indirect speech.

Sensitively reacting to the problems of the global world, modern cinema, especially the author’s, shows the life of a person immersed in communication. The efforts of filmmakers are aimed at developing new creative techniques, with the help of which it becomes possible to realize that the well-being of a modern person more than ever depends on his ability to understand other cultures. In the dialogue of arts, understanding is especially important, which is understood as an experience of the unity of the past and the present, as well as the experience of dialogizing subjects or of a subject who is dialoguing with himself/herself. At the same time, the ability of musical art to master the achievements of cinema art and vice versa is one of the sources of dialogue activity. In other words, music calling for hearing is correlated with a painting that actualizes vision: all varieties of art speak their language to the perceiving person.

The movie was produced by two collaborating companies, which are Working Title Films and Universal Studios. The construction and representation were done in Chatsworth House and Basildon Park (Nygren, 2018). The storyline is highly similar to Sense and Sensibility due to the fact that they represent the challenges and struggles of English women in the 19th century. The key difference lies in the tone of these films, where one emphasizes romance, and another focuses on the drama of hardship. The psychological impact is manifested in the fact that the movie delivers emotional backlash by showing women’s position in patriarchy systems (Oatley, 2016). Both of these films use movie effects to give a fully immersive experience to the viewers. For instance, Elizabeth says: “If you believed to be impossible, I wonder why you took the trouble of coming so far” (Wright, 2005). The given statement shows how gentle is the main character, thus, the text is written to be counter argumentative and polite.

Plot 2 Overview

After the death of Mr. Dashwood, his fortune is inherited by his son from his first marriage, John Dashwood. The second wife and her three daughters are in a quandary. She and her daughters – Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret – are forced to move to the cottage, which they are kindly provided by Sir John Middleton, a distant relative of Mrs. Dashwood.

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The eldest of the three sisters is the pragmatic Elinor and the romantic Marianne – single ladies. Back in Mr. Dashwood’s house, Elinor meets the brother of Mrs. Fanny (John’s wife), Edward Ferrers. Finding that Edward and Eleanor are seriously passionate about each other, Mrs. Fanny Dashwood writes to her mother, and she immediately calls Edward to London.

Bingley returns to Netherfield and makes Jane an offer, which she gladly accepts. Lizzie confesses to her sister that she was blind to Darcy. Bennett visits Lady Katherine. She insists that Elizabeth renounce the claim to marriage with Darcy, as he allegedly intends to marry Anna, the daughter of Lady Catherine. Lizzy rigidly cuts off her monologue and asks to leave, and she is not able to continue this conversation. Strolling at dawn, she meets Darcy. He again declares his love to her, and Elizabeth agrees to marry him.

The production took place in the UK, which was managed by BBC One company. The construction and representations were done in England, in counties, such as Berkshire and Surrey. Descriptiveness can be considered as a plot-compositional feature of the movie Sense and Sensibility. The viewer constantly finds descriptions of landscapes, houses, outfits, household details, recreating in his/her imagination a vivid picture of Victorian England (Nygren, 2018). Marriages, wills, receptions, visits – all this is described with rare accuracy. Subjects of description are rarely refined and, of course, never theatrical, but they are written close to nature and with a precision that delights the viewer.

The primary difference between the given movie with Pride and Prejudice is the fact that it is drama and not romance, where the main characters experience betrayal. However, these films’ main similarity lies in their topic of patriarchy, because the female characters suffer from oppression. Due to its genre, the movie focuses mostly on the emotional background of the characters. Thus, the effects are used to emphasize character development and attachment. For example, Colonel Brandon reads, “for there is nothing lost that may be found if sought” (Lee, 1995). The given text is meant to hint at the fact that Elinor finally found someone better than her previous partners.

The viewer learns about the personalities of the characters not only from their actions and dialogues but also from the movie’s descriptions, characteristics. It will be fair to say that the film tries to describe the characters in detail at the first appearance. However, a viewer should not consider such a description to be final and only true, since later on in the movie there are additional characteristics and unexpected disclosures of unknown sides of the personality of these people, and the viewer observes the development of this character (Fergus & Wood, 2016). Almost at the very beginning of the film, the story acquaints the viewer with the main characters, immediately noting the opposites of their characters. Judiciousness is inherent in one, and the restlessness of feelings is the other.

Therefore, the basic technique can be observed in the storyline, where characters of both movies originate from well-established lives. However, the death of the parent leads to the loss of the social status of women, who are related to the given individual. Andrew Davis claims that Jane Austen, like any other novelist, does not write completely naturalistic dialogues (Nygren, 2018). So, for example, although the verb forms in the novel are given in a full, non-shortened form, Andrew Davis doubts that the characters, especially the Bennet sisters, expressed themselves in this way. He sought to make the replicas suitable for the beginning of the 19th century, but at the same time, not too elaborate and unusual for the modern audience to perceive (Nygren, 2018). For the most part, the scriptwriter succeeded: the dialogues sound natural and, at the same time, elegant.

Therefore, it seems to me that conversations in the Bennet family should overlap like this. This feature makes the sound of the film very modern. The apotheosis of the linguistic modernization that the text of Jane Austen underwent is the transformation of the scene of Mr. Darcy’s unsuccessful sentence (Nygren, 2018). Instead of full-fledged, complete sentences, many of which take several lines in the novel, on-screen characters exchange short, often elliptical constructions, interrupt each other, and least of all resemble on self-respecting nobles of the early 19th century.

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It is also interesting to note a different approach to the script, which was present in the set of two films. Actors of the 1995 film version recall that there was a special group that monitored the accuracy of the pronunciation of the writing, especially when the text was taken from the novel without any processing (Fergus & Wood, 2016). If the artist made a mistake, the scene was re-shot.


The main characters of Sense and Sensibility are Elinor, Margaret, and Marianne, who were abandoned by their step-brother John. The key figures of Pride and Prejudice are Jane, Mary, Lydia, Elizabeth, and Kitty. At first glance, the film limits its interest in the lives of English gentry families. However, the modesty of family life paintings, or, as Austin herself wrote, tales of two or three families in the province, is deceiving. For all their external intimacy, her novels are social. They raise issues of marriage, bankruptcy, the inheritance of property. Ethical issues are raised. Love, honor, decency, deception, greed, meanness – all these manifestations of human nature are studied by the writer with amazing scrupulousness.

The setting is designed to give an understanding of how people, especially women, lived in the XXI century. The film can be called a story of moral insight. However, the film does not impose a principled position on viewers but never lets it out of sight. Using the example of the Dashwood sisters and their mothers, the film shows that experience allows one to comprehend moral values ​​or strengthen one’s understanding. The heroines learn to distinguish the present from the false, refuse to identify romantic exaltation with moral virtue. For example, Marianna says: “Mr. Wiloughby! Will you did not shake hands with me?” (Lee, 1995). This is the moment when Elinor is felt rejected by her gentleman, who was in love with Marianne. Coming into life with ideal views, girls face many difficulties in their pursuit of happiness and learn lessons from experiences in different ways. The film does not give an answer to the question: what is more important – the mind or feelings, and the viewer himself or herself must provide a solution to it. For the text type, it is important to show how both this and the other actors, what the results of behavior based on these opposite foundations of human actions lead to.

Thus, the code and conventions adhere to the historical manifestations of England of the 19th century. These concepts can be seen in both conversation scenes, as well as in single character ones (Fergus & Wood, 2016). The text type uses the old English language, which possesses a tone of literacy and manners. The distinguishing features are embedded in the emotional background of these films because one of them is drama, and another is romance.


In conclusion, the availability of wide opportunities for depicting both the inner life of heroes and the external environment, environment, everyday life, the ability to combine different points of view and aspects of the image are critical aspects of the given movies. They also combine epic motives with dramatic and lyrical ones and unify the perception of highness, touching moments of life with ordinary prosaic or comic.


  1. Fergus, J., & Wood, J. L. (2016). Jane Austen: A literary life. London, England: MacMillan Press.
  2. Lee, A. (Director). (1995). Sense and Sensibility [Video file]. Web.
  3. Nygren, M. (2018). The importance of gender structures for characters in Pride and Prejudice. DiVA, 5(4), 20-21.
  4. Oatley, K. (2016). Imagination, inference, intimacy: The psychology of Pride and Prejudice. Review of General Psychology, 20(3), 236-244.
  5. Wright, J. (Director). (2005). Pride and Prejudice [Video file]. Web

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