By Regina Jeffers
Becoming Jane is an imaginative, romantic tale that captures Jane Austen’s spirit, while playing with the truth. Many of us who delve in Austen-inspired literature have written our own “what if” stories, but one must be able to suspend reality and accept the witty, enchanting romance as all good storytelling to truly enjoy this film. (I did. So, I’m not offering that point as a criticism – only as a warning for those unfamiliar with the film.) This film takes some well known facts from Austen’s life and spins them into an ingenious tale of lost love.
The film is known for taking the truth and making it a reality. For example, there is some evidence that Ann Radcliffe influenced Jane Austen; however, the film creates a meeting between the two. During this encounter, Radcliffe asks Austen of what she will write.
“Novels are poor insipid things, read by mere women, even, God forbid, written by women.”
- From Pride and Prejudice, we find…
- Jane’s character resembles a cross between the flirtatious Lydia Bennet, who loves to dance, and Elizabeth Bennet, whose verbal swordplay with Mr. Darcy is enticing. Mr. Warren is the klutzy clergyman whose proposal reminds us all of Mr. Collins. (He also is a bit like Mr. Elton in Emma.)
- Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith) is so Lady Catherine De Bourgh. She does not want Wisley to consider Jane as a mate, and I love the scene where she mentions “a little wilderness.”
- Lefroy’s character reminds of us the “worthless” activities of George Wickham early on in the film. Like Wickham, Lefroy studies law, but with not much success. Later he is very much Darcy in his judgment of “country” life.
- From Sense and Sensibility, we find …
- Like Marianne Dashwood, Jane’s decisions are not based on “sense,” but on her “sensibility” (emotional response).
- Jane’s situation, if she does not marry Wisley, will be very much like the Dashwood sisters after losing their home.
- Jane plays cricket, very much as did Catherine Morland.
- Jane defends her desire to write novels.
- The scene in Uncle Benjamin’s house between Jane and Lefroy reminds one of the staircase scene between Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland.
- References to Ann Radcliffe’s (as well as other Gothic novels) are made in the novel. In the film, Jane visits Radcliffe.
- From Mansfield Park, we find …
- Lady Gresham’s line to Jane about her duty to marry well reminds us of those spoken by Lady Bertram to Fanny Price.
- Lady Bertram spends her days with her pug dog, as does Countess Eliza, Jane’s cousin.
- From Persuasion, we find …
- Although she loves him, Jane breaks an engagement with Lefroy so that he has a chance for a better future. This is similar to what happens between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.
- In the novel, Anne meets Wentworth at a concert, where she must translate the opera for her cousin. She recognizes their love still exists, but she can say nothing. “How was the truth to reach him?” In the film, Jane meets Lefory many years after their separation at a concert. He has married and has a daughter named “Jane.”