One writers vision jane austen essay

Messenger It started with a throwaway line in a conversation with an Adelaide musical entrepreneur. We were planning a day of Jane Austen-related activities, and I suggested that we could use courtship as a theme for the music program. The literary scholar Sarah R.

One writers vision jane austen essay

What is the best way to do this? Mansfield Park should be a musical.

Jane Austen – News, Research and Analysis – The Conversation – page 1

This may seem like an offbeat or radical proposition, but Mansfield Park has everything needed to create a musical production: Austen created true art in Mansfield Park, and a musical version of the story has the potential to be entertaining and engaging while shedding new light on the story.

At the heart of Mansfield Park is the intriguing, quiet, and subtly captivating character of Fanny Price. Fanny is one of the most difficult parts about adapting Mansfield Park to a musical. The temptation especially in a musical is to turn Fanny into an extroverted, impassioned heroine whose character is delivered directly to the audience through musical soliloquies.

One writers vision jane austen essay

This would be a stylistic alteration similar to the adaptation of Mansfield Park, where Fanny is constantly running around, smiling and laughing, a direct contradiction to her reserved nature in the book.

To bend Fanny Price into a boisterous, charismatic figure is to destroy her journey from an insecure and miserable young girl into a woman capable of handling herself in the society she has been prepared for. No longer would the subtle, character-based journey Austen creates be the emotional through line for the audience.

As this is a musical, the characters are expected to render their emotions and thoughts through song. Her thoughts could leak out, initially as small and sweet melodies that provide a glimpse into her mind that evolve throughout the performance into beautiful ballads that show her growing strength as a character.

One writers vision jane austen essay

Another song could come midway through her character journey, as she muses on her affection for Edmund and conflicts between emotion and principles relating to Henry as she notices his growing attention, as described in Chapters Similar musical themes could accompany both scenes, as they parallel each other in everything but one essential way: So, adding deeply developed acting to the dancing and singing of Fanny Price provides a key core to the story of Mansfield Park.

It could even be argued that the novel is more about the interactions that take place in and around Mansfield as opposed to a particular character.

Fanny is the character that requires the most development, as she is the heart of the story that the audience connects to, but the other members of the cast also have to be developed thoroughly in order to create the complicated world and relationships that make Mansfield Park engaging and authentic.

The most fundamental way to convey characters and their relationships comes through their interactions. Not much has to be changed from prose to play in terms of dialogue, but the burden is on the actors rather than the author to provide reactions.

Through interactions and reactions, the audience is able to absorb much about the various relationships between the characters. These interactions set the stage for deeper looks into the various characters. Just as Fanny needs songs and solos throughout the musical that keep the audience updated on her internal state, so do the rest of the characters.

Maria and Julia could sing of their competing love for Henry. Henry and Mary could have a short duet about their romantic pursuits and plots, mirroring their first conversation after meeting the Bertrams, and showing the audience their scheming and not-quite-trustworthy nature These songs add a second layer to the foundation established by the simple interactions between characters, adding emotional richness and engagement at specific times throughout the show in order to convey story beats and character moments.

However, the final level of ensemble characterization is the most difficult. Representing interactions, conflicts, emotions, and thoughts that exist with stagnant characters at particular times is easy, but Mansfield Park is a story that details the personal growth of various characters.

Fanny grows from a shy, looked-down-upon child to a capable and respected woman throughout the story. Edmund deals with the struggle of managing a household and preparing for his transition into clergy and marriage.

Sir Thomas gains understanding of what it really means to instill character in his children. The problem that a two-hour production faces in adapting Mansfield Park is that the goal of hitting the major plot points can override the development of the characters, leaving the audience with only shallow impressions of growth and with a lack of connection to the characters.

This can be circumvented, however, by the nature of musical theater. Placing songs in the correct places throughout the story can serve the double purpose of keeping the plot intact while also developing characters. Another song could take place with duets and solos between Edmund, Fanny, Mary, and Henry about their various relationships and affections for one another, progressing the plot towards the marriage of Edmund and Fanny and the rejections by Mary and of Henry.

Through song, we get the feelings and thoughts of characters, the progression of the plot, and the interaction and conflict required for development. Songs in musicals, like Shakespearean monologues, can accomplish multiple layers of storytelling simultaneously.

With Fanny intact as a character, and the rest of the ensemble well-developed, the themes of Mansfield Park can begin to shine through.Jane Austen’s Persuasion was published in , when Romanticism was prevalent.

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Resources for course are Jane Austen’s books Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion as well as a study guide One Writers Vision. Other resources can be used but must be cited as well.

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Resources for course are Jane Austen’s books Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion as well as a study guide One Writers Vision. Other resources can be used but must be cited as well.


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