Jane Austen's Unnamed Character: Exploring Nature in Pride and Prejudice (2005)
The 2005 film Pride & Prejudice opens with sound rather than picture, but it is not the expected man-made musical score that fills the air. Rather it is nature’s music: the song of birds, particularly blackbirds. As Lydia Martin’s article “Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice: From Classicism to Romanticism” states, “The film’s opening with overlapping birdsong, heard even before the first image appears on screen, suggests the awakening of nature.” Then picture fills the screen, and the audience can see a shot of a beautiful green field. Lush trees stand proudly at the end of the stretch of grass, and piano music begins to play as the rising sun peeks over the trees. Mist starts to dissipate and a golden glow fills the shot as morning arrives.
Shortly after, the sun accompanies Elizabeth Bennet, played by Keira Knightley, as she strolls through the fields reading quietly. Lydia Martin analyzes the shot, saying, “The cinematographer films Elizabeth in a slightly low-angle shot to present her harmonious relationship with nature.” Though the text of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice opens with a narrator followed by a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, in this film it is nature that is seen first. As an author writing during the Romantic period, Austen devotes space to describing the landscape that her characters inhabit; however, recent film versions emphasize the landscape in ways the narrative does not. Sara Wingard confirms this in her article, “Reversal and Revelation: The Five Seasons of Pride and Prejudice,” that “there are no long descriptive passages on the beauties or terrors of nature in her [Austen’s] work.” In the 2005 adaptation Pride & Prejudice, through the director’s different uses of the environment, (including both the weather and landscape) nature itself becomes an unnamed but essential character to the audience’s understanding of the story. In the film, nature acts as a narrator by mirroring Elizabeth’s inner thoughts (which audiences are not privy to due to the lack of a human narrator) and takes on a role of its own as it subtly hints to and influences Elizabeth as to what it thinks is best for her. This largely contrasts the way that Austen uses nature in the original text of Pride and Prejudice, merely sprinkled in, but without a starring role.Released in 2005, Pride & Prejudice was directed by Joe Wright, starred Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, and was based on a screenplay by writer Deborah Moggach. Moggach’s screenplay was in turn, based on the novel Pride and Prejudice. Written by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and remains popular with readers even two hundred years later. Beloved by audiences, Austen’s classic about Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy has spurned numerous adaptations. Besides the plentiful unofficial sequels appearing in print over the years, there have been several film and television versions. One of the most popular was 1995’s BBC/AE six episode television miniseries: Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. Because of the popularity of the 1995 BBC/AE miniseries, which was only produced a scant ten years earlier, expectations for Wright’s film were high.
One of the main problems Wright faced while filming was the running time. Due to the 1995 series being filmed for television, it ran five hours long. This meant the 1995 adaptation had the advantage over Wright’s film, because Wright was forced to condense or eliminate certain scenes due to time constraints (which were two hours). With such a short amount of screen time, Wright had to carefully consider who or what made the cut. Characters like Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, Mrs. Younge, and Maria Lucas were among many who do not appear in the 2005 film. Mr. and Mrs. Philips along with many of the militia also did not appear in Wright’s film. Several scenes from the original text were combined or cut. Wright could have made the decision to stay truer to Austen’s text, but instead favored scenes with landscape over characters he believed were not necessary. He used these outdoor scenes to create a new character, nature, who becomes just as important to the audience as the named characters.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, dialogue and characterization take preeminence over setting. Rosemarie Bodenheimer explores this in her article “Looking at the Landscape in Jane Austen.” Published in Studies in English Literature in 1981, Bodenheimer says that “Austen’s landscape writing is related to romantic narrative and poetic technique in the sense that it points inward” and that Austen is “constantly pulling the emphasis away from pictorial description itself” (622). Bodenheimer argues that “the actual nature writing” actually “marks the strains and limits in Austen’s romantic tendencies” (606). The lack of nature and landscape is especially felt in the beginning of the Pride and Prejudice. Austen does not even mention anything regarding landscape until a few chapters into the story, as nature remains in the shadows of Austen’s text until Jane is invited to dine with the Bingley’s. Mrs. Bennet believes it is about to rain and has no qualms about using the rain in her quest to get her daughters married. This facile ploy succeeds, as the narrator muses, “Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard” (Austen 77). Austen’s text continues from Mrs. Bennet’s point of view, “‘This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!’ said Mrs. Bennet, more than once, as if the credit of making it rain were all her own” (77). nature, it seems, is playing the part of matchmaker with Mrs. Bennet, though it isn’t receiving any credit.
The film version takes this tiny bit of text to the next level. While Austen’s text reads that it “rained hard,” there is nothing else said about Jane’s journey in the rain. In the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice, the doors of Netherfield open and Jane is seen standing in downpour. Dripping wet with the rain pouring down behind her, she opens her mouth to talk and sneezes instead. Wright’s scene gives details to the audience that Austen’s text does not, and in doing so, nature becomes a narrator. Wright could have had an actual narrator saying, “And then Jane stood dripping wet in the pouring rain. The doors were flung open and she opened her mouth to talk but the poor girl sneezed instead. Clearly she was sick!” Instead, nature’s own actions become the narration and allowed audiences to understand a little more easily how Jane could have gotten sick from travelling in the rain.
Nature continues its role as matchmaker when Elizabeth, as Sara Wingard puts it, begins an “impulsive muddy walk to Netherfield to nurse her sister.” In the text, Pride and Prejudice’s narrator tells readers that Elizabeth ends up “crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity… and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise” (Austen 79). The text’s narrator tells the audience that Elizabeth ends up with “dirty stockings” and “her petticoat, six inches deep in mud” (79, 82). Kathleen Anderson explores Elizabeth’s wardrobe somewhat in her article, “The Offending Pig: Determinism in the Focus Features Pride & Prejudice.” Anderson points out that Elizabeth “wears mostly deep, rich colors” and that in the opening scene, Elizabeth wears a dark brown dress, which reinforces her affinity with the earth.” This Elizabeth is not afraid of a little mud, despite some of her struggles through it. The 2005 film version does not portray this trudging as vividly as the 1995 version, but it does still capture some of Elizabeth’s difficulty. Audiences see that because nature can control the weather and its effects on the landscape, it has more power than Mrs. Bennet and can continue to assist the mother in her quest to get husbands for her daughters. nature is making it difficult for Elizabeth to reach the Bingley’s in order for Jane to have more time with a potential husband. The sun is purposely not strong enough to dry up the puddles from the previous rain, and the fields are quite muddy. Both of these would deter most people from taking such a long walk, but Elizabeth continues.
The scene is shot from afar, displaying Elizabeth walking briskly across a field with one lone tree as dark clouds fill the sky. Says Sarah Ailwood in her article ““What are men to rocks and mountains?” Romanticism in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice,” that “Wright uses a distant shot to silhouette Elizabeth against a white sky: she and a solitary tree are the only two figures in a rural landscape.” Elizabeth is like the tree in that she thrives in the outdoors. The observant watchers will notice that she slips once as she squishes through the grass, but the rest of the audience will see her unkempt appearance amidst the finery at Netherfield. nature is not just attempting to help Jane in this scene, but also Elizabeth. nature knows something that Elizabeth does not: Mr. Darcy is quite attracted to Elizabeth’s eyes, especially when they are “brightened by the exercise,” as Austen’s text reveals (82). Without the difficult walk on the fields still wet from the earlier rain, Elizabeth may not have appeared quite as attractive to Mr. Darcy. It is nature that influences Elizabeth and gives her that extra push, while Wright’s film shows it happening.
One scene where Wright gives the landscape a bigger part than Austen intended is where Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham come face to face. In the 2005 film, Elizabeth is walking along a riverbank with Mr. Wickham as Lydia, Jane, and Kitty walk shortly ahead of them. The group comes across Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy on horseback. Though Elizabeth can sense the tension between Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy, it is made even more obvious by the structure of the landscape in this scene. The two men are divided by the placement of the river, which runs between them and is difficult to cross, as Wright uses nature to emphasize the emotional distance between the two men.
In contrast to Wright’s film, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham meeting in town. The narrator says, “Darcy and Bingley were seen riding down the street” (Austen 116). Of Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy, Austen’s text declares, “Both changed colour [sic], one looked white, the other red. Mr. Wickham, after a few moments, touched his hat – a salutation which Mr. Darcy just deigned to return” (116). Wright could have filmed this on a street, as Austen’s text does, but instead shot the scene in nature—Elizabeth’s comfort zone. Wright’s use of the landscape allows nature to hint to both Elizabeth and the audience that there is something very wrong between these two men. Austen’s original lack of landscape and nature in her text is explored in a biography by Park Honan. In Jane Austen: Her Life, Honan believes that there was once much more text describing nature and landscape in Pride and Prejudice, but much of it was lost in the final version. Honan claims, “This is a much pruned comedy” (309). He goes on to say that “Nature is nearly excluded – and few novels of country life have had so little rural scenery” (Honan 309). Wright’s film takes pains to add nature where in Austen’s text there was little, and gives nature a starring role.
As to what happened between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham, Austen’s narrative has Mr. Wickham explain the supposed circumstances soon after. Mr. Wickham visits Elizabeth at Mr. and Mrs. Phillips supper party in Meryton. Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is quite dialogue-heavy at this point of the text, but the whole conversation takes place inside. The 2005 film continues to make use of nature and the landscape by showing Elizabeth questioning Mr. Wickham outdoors. Elizabeth sits with her back to a tree, with Mr. Wickham standing and looking down on her. Elizabeth leaning on the tree shows her dependence on nature, and nature supports her in return. Regarding Mr. Wickham, nature indicates her displeasure with him by sending rain down upon them, and tries to hint to Elizabeth that something is not right about Mr. Wickham. The tree shelters Elizabeth, as she is closest to the center and among the thickest branches, while Mr. Wickham gets slightly wet, as he is standing further towards the outer edges. Wright’s film also has Mr. Wickham do something very interesting. When questioned by Elizabeth, Mr. Wickham answers, and looking up into the overhanging tree, tears a leaf off and plays with it. This action reveals much about Mr. Wickham’s character. Instead of looking at Elizabeth as he answers, he looks away. This is a clear indication that he is lying about something. Mr. Wickham’s tearing a leaf off the tree should be seen as an attack on the protective nature, almost as if Mr. Wickham has sensed that nature is against him.
While Mr. Wickham maybe the man that Elizabeth Bennet is currently interested in at this point in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, it is another man who proposes to her. The “ridiculous” Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth at the breakfast table one morning. After Elizabeth’s refusal she “immediately and in silence withdrew,” though in Austen’s text it does not say to where she went (150). Soon after, Elizabeth is called to the library to have a discussion about the proposal with both her father and mother. nature is not present at all in these scenes in Austen’s text, but Wright’s Pride & Prejudice allows nature to have a large part. For one thing, in Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Collins presents Elizabeth with a small flower which Lydia Martin refers to as a “sentimental cliché.” While this could be seen as Mr. Collins embracing nature like Elizabeth, with the puniness of the flower, and the fact that it has been picked and will no longer survive, it seems to be more of an indication that Mr. Collins is not the right choice for Elizabeth. It is reminiscent of Mr. Wickham tearing off a leaf from the tree which sheltered him and Elizabeth.
In the 2005 film, when Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins’ proposal, she can be seen sprinting from away from the house down a dirt path. nature, which has always welcomed and embraced Elizabeth, waits for her and encourages Elizabeth with bright sunshine to come be comforted. As Lydia Martin says, “When Elizabeth runs away from Mr. Collins, she takes refuge near the river, in a typically Romantic place where the water reflects light onto her face.” The scene with Elizabeth and her parents, which in Austen’s novel takes place in the library, is filmed outside in Wright’s adaptation. The three of them can be seen in front of a lake. A flock of geese flies away, their escape mirroring the one that Elizabeth wants to make, as nature once again becomes the narrator.
In both the book and the film, while Mr. Collins’ proposal was unwelcome, Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth is equally unwelcome. It is also one of the pivotal scenes in both the original text and Wright’s adaptation. In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth at Mr. and Mrs. Collins’ house. The narrator says of Elizabeth, “her spirits were very differently affected, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Mr. Darcy walk into the room” (Austen 220). Lisa Altomari has a theory about this proposal which she explores in her article “Jane Austen and Her Outdoors.” Published in Persuasions: Journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America in 1990, Altomari argues that “Austen… set this proposal in the Collins’s drawing room (a double irony of sorts since that very parsonage might have been Elizabeth’s ultimate prison), within the confines of a house, so as to reiterate to the reader that this is not the bit of truth that Elizabeth is ultimately searching for.” Altomari indicates that had this truly been the right choice for Austen, it would have happened outdoors in to show nature’s approval.
Wright’s Pride & Prejudice has the proposal scene happen outdoors, but with a different purpose in mind. In this scene, Elizabeth runs across a bridge by a lake in the pouring rain. It can be assumed she is running from the news that she has received about Mr. Darcy’s interference in Mr. Bingley and Jane’s relationship, into her sanctuary. She is then momentarily sheltered at some sort of overhang. Consulting Focus Features’ “Pride & Prejudice: The Locations,” one can find that this overhang is part of the Temple of Apollo. Wright includes this as a filming location as another way of including nature. Apollo is known as the sun god, and the lack of the sun in this shot shows what nature thinks about the upcoming proposal. Elizabeth stands with her back plastered against the wall of the temple, chest heaving as she catches her breath while staring out at the falling rain. nature is meant to be Elizabeth’s comfort zone, or a place where she is safe and can always run to when she is in need of peace. Instead it seems to the audience it as though she is attacked by Mr. Darcy. Wright uses nature to do two things here. First, the rain indicates nature’s displeasure at Mr. Darcy’s actions, and to show disapproval. nature does not want Elizabeth to accept such a proposal from such a man, and the violent weather emphasizes this. Second, the violent weather can be seen as mirroring Elizabeth’s emotions. Her inner turmoil at Mr. Darcy’s words may not be evident by the look on her face, but the displeasure his proposal has provoked can be seen with one look at the rain. Ailwood concurs, adding that “This outdoor scene culminates in Darcy’s first proposal, suggesting that the natural world similarly provides him with escape and freedom from the oppressive Rosings interior.”
Soon after Elizabeth’s refusal of Mr. Darcy’s proposal in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, she receives a letter from him detailing why he separated Mr. Bingley from Jane, and the true details surrounding Mr. Wickham’s involvement with the Darcy family. In Austen’s text, Mr. Darcy delivers the letter to her while she is out walking, though little text is devoted to the landscape on such a walk. Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, for once, brings Elizabeth indoors as a clear reversal of Austen’s setting. Despite Elizabeth being indoors, however, nature is still present in this scene. While Elizabeth reads Mr. Darcy’s letter, the audience sees shots of Mr. Darcy riding on his horse. His horse gallops through the woods in the dark, indicating his inner turmoil at what has passed, as well as Elizabeth’s confusion. Elizabeth’s narration as she reads the letter may be what audiences hear, but by seeing Mr. Darcy’s furious evening ride, Wright allows nature once again to provide the inner thoughts of the main characters (this time both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy) which would have otherwise gone unsaid.
The scene where Elizabeth visits the Peak District with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner is perhaps one of the most landscape-driven scenes in the 2005 film. Sarah Ailwood explores this in her previously mentioned article, ““What are men to rocks and mountains?” Romanticism in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice.” Ailwood says, “Wright’s use of the visual capabilities of film attributes to Austen a greater investment in Romantic imagery than can be supported by the novel itself.” Elizabeth stands on the edge of a great cliff serenely gazing out at the landscape, greatly appreciative of its beauty. nature becomes the narrator again as the camera zooms out to show how small Elizabeth really is when compared to the miles of rock around her. According to Focus Features’ “Pride & Prejudice: The Locations,” this is a shot of the Stanage Edge, a popular place for walkers and rock climbers, where the cliffs stretch for approximately four miles. Very little is said in Austen’s text of the tour that Elizabeth has with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. The narrator merely says, “They bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country” (Austen 265). Nothing is said of the majesty of the cliffs or the green fields they must have seen. Wright’s version goes out of its way to reunite Elizabeth with nature.
Immediately following, Wright has Elizabeth (once again) sitting against a tree—this time against the roots of a giant tree. Wright’s commentary on the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice’s DVD indicates that this tree is part of the fabled Sherwood Forest in Derbyshire, and that the tree is over five hundred years old. This tree, and therefore the scene, is quite a sight to behold. It seems almost fairytale like (not even considering the ties Robin Hood has to Sherwood Forest). One could say that the tree reminds them of Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas, Magi’s tree in Ferngully, or the Tree of Souls in Avatar. All three of these movies have some sort of special, spiritual tree, and the tree which holds Elizabeth seems eerily like them. In Pride & Prejudice, the tree, or nature, continues to support and comfort Elizabeth, providing moss to cushion her as she rests—almost cradling her in its arms. nature comes off as motherly. It is also at this point that Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner entertain the idea of visiting Pemberley, the place Mr. Darcy calls home. Despite Elizabeth’s natural reaction to avoid Pemberley in fear of seeing Mr. Darcy, she does not refuse. She in fact protests very little, most likely because she has been reassured by nature.
Elizabeth’s visit to Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s estate, is one of the few scenes in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice where the author dedicates space to describing the landscape. The park is described as being “very large,” containing a “great variety of ground,” and overall being a “beautiful wood” (Austen 267). Like Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Wright’s film dedicates time to shooting Pemberley. Wright’s Pride & Prejudice shows the exterior of the house, the gardens, the lake, and as much of the estate that can be fit seamlessly in the shot. Joe Wright’s DVD commentary of Pride & Prejudice says of Pemberley, “It’s really important, that house.” Wright continues, saying, “you see… it’s all about the environment that the house is in, not just its grandeur.” The landscape is interrupted by Mr. Darcy’s housekeeper giving Elizabeth a tour of the house with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. It is here that she comes across Mr. and Miss Darcy, hidden in the middle of the maze of rooms. Startled by seeing the two of them, and afraid of Mr. Darcy’s reaction, Elizabeth escapes the house and runs outside. The comforts of nature await her. In the film, it is in this outdoors that the couple has an amiable conversation. Outside in the veranda, in the fresh air, both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are flustered. Neither of them knows truly what to say. Wingard agrees saying, “Elizabeth’s unexpected and awkward encounter with Darcy at Pemberley in August proves that they have both profited from their springtime revelations.” “Unexpected and awkward” is an understatement. There isn’t bright sunshine, which would indicate nature’s approval of this meeting, but there also isn’t pouring rain which would indicate displeasure. Instead the sky is partly cloudy with patches of sun peeking through. This is nature’s way of letting the conversation play out. Additionally, it is nature’s way of narrating to the watching audience that neither of the two main characters are sure about what is going on between them.
The news of Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham takes Elizabeth Bennet away from Mr. Darcy sooner than expected, but the two end up meeting again. In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, little is said about the outdoors during these scenes. In Wright’s 2005 film, Mr. Darcy accompanies Mr. Bingley when he comes to propose to Jane. Mr. Bingley is scared away by Mrs. Bennet’s prattling and runs off into nature’s welcoming embrace. Like nature comforts Elizabeth, it also comforts Mr. Bingley. nature approves of Mr. Bingley and Jane being together, as audiences saw when it rained on Jane’s original journey to Netherfield. The sun shines brightly as Mr. Bingley gathers his courage out in front of the lake before going back inside to ask for Jane’s hand. Mr. Darcy is there to give Mr. Bingley his support, and waits until he is sure Mr. Bingley has accomplished what he set out to do. Once Mr. Bingley has proposed and Jane has accepted, Elizabeth settles as Lydia Martin says, “sadly on her own beneath a tree.” In Pride & Prejudice, Nature again acts as narrator as the audience sees that Elizabeth is conflicted and seeking comfort. In the scene, Mr. Darcy is further away from the house and from his angle cannot see Elizabeth under the tree, but the sun continues to shine on him. It is definitely a change from the pouring rain during his first proposal, and the clouds that hovered above him when he and Elizabeth met at Pemberley. With the bright sunshine, but also the angle of the hill preventing him from seeing Elizabeth under her tree, Wright uses the landscape in such a way that indicates that nature almost approves of their relationship. It is almost as if nature is saying, “It’s almost time for them to be together.”
Mr. Darcy’s second and final proposal to Elizabeth is another scene which Wright took liberties with. In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the proposal takes place while the couple is out walking. The narrator says, “They walked on, without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to any other objects” (Austen 375). Austen ignores the landscape entirely, though as Kathleen Lundeen says in her article “A Modest Proposal? Paradise Found in Jane Austen’s Betrothal Scenes,” Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy “relate to each other with more ease and freedom in the natural setting” (72). Like when the couple met at Mr. Darcy’s estate, the “natural landscape serves as a refuge for the lovers” and is an “Eden of the heart” (Lundeen 72). Lundeen does recognize that Austen’s scene is “distancing through straight narrative,” which does not pay attention to other details (73). Wright’s 2005 film version certainly focuses on the landscape. It begins with Elizabeth restlessly walking the fields near her house. Dawn is almost upon her as she steps through long grasses and the swirling early morning fog. She looks up and sees Mr. Darcy walking through the fog towards her, cloak fluttering around him. nature lets him pass through with ease. Eventually Mr. Darcy reaches her and they gaze at each other. Shortly after, Mr. Darcy proposes, and they clutch hands and touch foreheads as the sun rises up behind them. There aren’t any streams separating them, like there was when Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham come across each other. It is not raining, like it was during Mr. Darcy’s first proposal or when Elizabeth was questioning Mr. Wickham. Rather, the sun is rising indicating a new day and echoes the opening scene of the film. This rising sun also symbolizes the birth of a new relationship. Elizabeth’s interaction with Mr. Darcy has come full circle, (Joe Wright confirms this in his DVD commentary for Pride & Prejudice saying, “the film is completely circular. You start and end with the sunrise.”) and nature has given its approval.
The final scene of Joe Wright’s 2005 film Pride & Prejudice takes place at Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate after Elizabeth has married Mr. Darcy. It should be noted that depending on the location of the viewer, this may not be the final scene they see. Unfortunately, it has been determined that British audiences did not get to see the final Pemberley scene, as it was deemed too sappy. Their version ends with the scene where Mr. Bennet gives his approval to Elizabeth in his study, which is the second to last scene in the American version. Apparently the final Pemberley scene was added for American audiences in order to satisfy those looking for a kiss between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Joe Wright even admits on the DVD commentary of Pride & Prejudice that “This [the scene Mr. Bennet gives his permission scene] is basically the end of the film.” Both scenes are quite different from the way Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice actually ends. Austen’s final chapters essentially sum up the novel, telling what happens to all of the characters, and hints to the audience what lies in store in the future.
In Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, night has fallen and the only light that can be seen comes from torches. Ailwood says, “Wright’s use of visual imagery moves beyond Austen’s novel” but she approves wholeheartedly. The couple, Elizabeth Darcy and Fitzwilliam Darcy, sits outside overlooking the lake that separates them from the great house. Pemberley looms over them in the background, but not menacingly, as they sit a good ways apart from it. Kathleen Anderson says that “they both belong in a landscape teeming with life,” which is why it is fitting that the film ends this way. Four swans swim contently nearby. Soft rushing water from the lake can be heard amidst piano music as the firelight flickers over their faces. Wright’s decision to end the American version on this note indicates something important. Elizabeth Bennet may now be Elizabeth Darcy—a very wealthy woman, but despite this wealth, Elizabeth is very much the same person she was before her marriage. Audiences see that she is still the most comfortable when surrounded by landscape. Referring back to Lisa Altomari, one can see that she confirms this in her article “Jane Austen and Her Outdoors.” Altomari states that Austen created a “heroine who has a desire for and a bond with the outdoors and all that nature represents,” but as seen from an examination of the text, Austen could have devoted more space to this “desire.” Wright’s film shows audiences that though the comforts of Pemberley lie just beyond the lake, Elizabeth chooses to sit with her husband outside in the comforts of nature instead. nature was her companion before her marriage, and will continue to be her companion after marriage. Anderson believes “they will succeed because they bridge the physical realm of passion and the social realm of decorum.” The calmness of the evening mirrors her inner serenity, and nature as the narrator may as well be saying, “And they lived happily ever after.”
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