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Becoming Jane A movie based on Jane Austen’s life June 29, 2019

Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
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Becoming Jane is a delightful movie, especially for those who love Jane Austen’s books (Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility).  In the movie you see that Jane Austen’s characters and ideas stem from her life experiences.  Jane’s life was filled with loving family and some heartache.

The movie covers Jane’s (Ann Hathaway) young adult years.  Her father is a minister who encourages her learning and ideas.  Her family lives a modest life on a farm with the children sharing the chores.  Jane has a close relationship with Cassandra, her sister who is engaged.

Jane is full of life: She’s intelligent, an independent thinker and loves to write stories.  She receives an offer of marriage from Mr. Wisley, a wealthy man who could help her family live comfortably. However, Jane doesn’t want to be forced into marriage, even to help her family.  She declares she wants “affection” in a marriage.

Jane does a reading of her latest manuscript for her family.  Thomas Lefory (Jame McAvoy) attends and makes a poor impression by not taking interest in her story.  Gradually they come to know one another and fall in love.  Unfortunately, Tom is a young Irish man without money.  He and his family are dependent on his rich uncle.

It’s an enjoyable movie made by BBC in Ireland.  It’s well-acted and has a great plot drawn from the book Becoming Jane and the letters Jane wrote. Some of the situations, witty dialogue and characters remind the viewer of Austin’s books.

After seeing the movie, I was curious about how close it represented Jane Austen’s life.  It turns out the movie is a blend of fact and fiction. Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Hampshire, England.  She was the youngest child in seven siblings. In the movie her relationship with her sister Cassandra and her parents is the main focus with regards to her family life.  As in the movie, Jane received a marriage proposal from a wealthy man that she accepted, then turned down the next day.

She did know Thomas Lefory when he was on break from his legal studies in England. She enjoyed his company at dances while he was in Hampshire, but there is no evidence that they fell in love and wanted to marry.

Jane’s life was fairly private. Her sister destroyed many of Jane’s letters after she died, so there is much that isn’t known about her.

During her life, Jane wrote many short pieces and six novels.  All were published with the author being anonymous.  Jane Austen’s name didn’t come out until after she died of Addison’s disease at forty-two years old.  At that time, women weren’t supposed to be authors, since they weren’t thought of as independent thinkers, and the idea of novels was a new concept.

Jane Austen is considered a romance writer, yet she never had a serious romance or married.  Over the years people have wondered how she could write about experiences she never had.  However, she did attended many dances, received a marriage proposal and witnessed the heartache her sister suffered when her fiancé died of a fever in the West Indies. From her writing, it’s apparent that these experiences and her keen insight into human nature were enough for her to become an extraordinary writer.

Though Jane Austen had only modest success during her life, she became popular in the 20th century.  Today she’s considered one of the top one hundred English writers.