Tag Archives: Pride & Prejudice

Quite so, Miss Austen

With the morris dancing scuppered by the storm, I did what any rational human would do – hunkered down with old b/w movies on the telly – specifically, 1940’s Pride & Prejudice, with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson.

I’m always interested by what you might call meta-messaging – the implicit messages that can be discerned beneath the ostensibles, if you’re that way minded. Films made during the war often make interesting examples. I was struck by the exchange between Elizabeth Bennet and Miss Bingley – a crashing snob, who serves only to flag up our heroine’s essential decency:

Miss Bingley: But there….what can you expect of one of his low descent?
Elizabeth Bennet: I will tell you exactly what I expect: kindness, honour, generosity, truthfulness. And I might add that I expect exactly the same from persons of high descent.

No such exchange can be found in the original, and you can’t help wondering whether Aldous Huxley, in writing the script, saw an opportunity to remind American movie-goers of the fundamental values at stake on the other side of the pond.