Jane Austen's Regency England: A Critical Analysis

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It is undeniable that more often than not, audiences of cinema and television will associate and connect the past connotations of Regency England with Jane Austen and her famous literary novels. Jane Austen for a long time has been highly commended for her vivid portrayals of characters set against the backdrop of English countryside. For centuries, her books have been read and reread by millions of people across the world. Many adaptations of her novels have been produced for cinema and for TV dramas as her works have been regarded as depicting a close and possibly, accurate portrayal of Regency England. “The Regency Period of Jane Austen's time provided a picture of England that differed greatly from that of today” [Warren, 2014 Online].…show more content…
Britain reigned over the world as the tiny island that conquered all. The question is – why is this not explored within the world of Jane Austen cinema and television drama? It is clear that Austen was aware of slavery and the Empire, as demonstrated in Mansfield Park (1814). Edward Said made a critical reading of Mansfield Park his book, Culture and Imperialism (1994), in which he found that the author condoned the imperialist attitude felt within the country at the time. “Jane Austen sees the legitimacy of Sir Thomas Bertram’s overseas properties as a natural extension of the calm, the order, the beauties of Mansfield Park, one central estate validating the economically supportive role of the peripheral other” [Said, 79]. Indeed, Said’s critical reading of Mansfield Park has led to many others deciphering his interpretations within a newly formed deconstructive analysis of Austen’s works. For instance, David Bartine and Eileen Maguire look into Edward Said’s work in their journal, Contrapuntal Critical Readings of Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park": Resolving Edward Said's Paradox. In the journal, the authors expand upon the concept of imperialist acceptance within Mansfield…show more content…
Obviously, the representations of women can be found prominently in these film and TV adaptations. However, concern rises in why a typical view of women is consistently shown in these past eras. In the typical world of an Austen novel, the female protagonists are most preoccupied with marriage and finding the right man. Although this may have been the world of Austen whilst living in Regency England, it cannot be interpreted as the fact and basis of women’s roles entirely in this era. Women during the Regency period would find independence through marriage, but some found it without marrying. Women dueled with pistols and swords, some challenged men in duels. Women in the nineteenth century had rights over their property. During this period, laws allowed divorces to be attained and women could now contest to be granted custody of their children (prior to this, men would always gain the rights). To the modern eye, these changes seem miniscule but for a Regency woman, this would no doubt be a different and vastly changed world to their female ancestors. I want to explore why filmmakers and TV writers encourage a rather interesting view that a ‘simpler’ time for women was somehow better. There is an increased sense of nostalgia associated with Regency England. The green pastures of countryside, women in bonnets and the proprieties and manners of English gentlemen all contribute to a

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