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Becoming Jane: Becoming Fictional

Prior knowledge of Jane Austen’s life will not enhance the viewer’s enjoyment of the film.”   Becoming Jane is not really about Jane Austen. Becoming is about us and our Austen- inspired, time travel fantasies. Through the artistry of costume and set designers, whose efforts must be applauded, Becoming may achieve the outward appearance of Regency England, but do not be deceived. The film is a collection of modern attitudes, assumptions, whimsy, values and prejudices playing dress up. A willful, impulsive, self confident, aspiring career girl, the Jane Austen of Becoming Jane (Anne Hathaway) is a twenty-first century woman in a pretty frock who inevitably finds herself at odds with the archaic society in which she has been placed. Thoroughly modern Jane naturally rebels and “setting propriety at nought” proceeds to indulge in some extremely unlikely behavior, exactly the same activities which Austen cautions against in her novels. But this is a material point in understanding the film. Predicated on the notion that art imitates life, Becoming Jane assumes that Jane Austen, her family, friends and acquaintances must have inspired the characters, spoken the lines and enacted the plot twists of Austen’s novels. Thus, Becoming’s Jane Austen is a Frankenstein combination of Catherine Morland’s admiration of Ann Radcliffe (Helen McCrory), Marianne Dashwood’s excessive romanticism, Emma Woodhouse’s self assurance, Anne Elliot’s indecision and Lydia Bennet’s impulsivity. You will note that these traits are the weaknesses of Austen’s fictional characters, not their strengths. The result of this weird alchemy of flaws is

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