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English: Detail of C. E. Brock illustration fo...

English: Detail of C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 56) showing Elizabeth Bennet outdoors in “walking dress”, with bonnet and parasol. Français : Détail d’une illustration de C. E. Brock pour l’édition de 1885 de Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women in Jane Austen‘s time took walks.   Elizabeth Bennett walks to Netherfield and her muddy skirt provides an interesting topic of conversation.  I particularly enjoy the A&E film version of Pride and Prejudice because it emphasizes Elizabeth walking.

Jane Fairfax also walks — to get away from an awkward social situation and have time to think — by herself.  I love the BBC Emma with the wonderful Olivia Williams  saying something about the joys of being alone.

Margaret Hale in the BBC North and South is a stalwart walker, although her surroundings are grim — all those tombstones!  Also, I worry about her lungs and wonder how long any of them will live in that polluted environment.  And then there is John Thornton’s walk before he proposes.   Richard Armitage does a great job of expressing his character’s angst, while walking.

Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Georgette Heyer‘s Venetia walks — without a chaperone — and has the good misfortune to run into the hero.

Maria in Sound of Music has one of the most beautiful walking scenes at the beginning of the movie.

I love to walk and if I can’t walk outside, I’ve been known to pace around my house.  But outside is best, and I realize that lately I’ve been cooped up too much.  I need to walk.  Walking helps me to work out my problems and be at peace.

And here’s the quote that prompted this blog post.

“I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.”  — Noel Coward.

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Richard Armitage.

Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage.

Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage.

Source: richardarmitagenet.com

My daughter wanted to see if I could boost the number of hits to my blog.  This is only a test.

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10.  John Thornton.  John Thornton is a fascinating, romantic character.  He is a wise business man, who has overcome poverty through his hard work and now wants to improve himself through education.  I admire his practicality in hiring the Irish workers, and I admire his stand against the strikers.  He accepts responsibility for his actions and lives within his own moral code.

He has a loving, respectful relationship with his mother.  They are open and honest about how they feel, the troubles with the business, and Thornton’s growing attraction for Margaret.  I like the sense of humor they share. 

Thornton loves Margaret, even when he thinks that she will never love him.  He proposes, believing that she will refuse him.  And after she has refused him, he still brings fruit to her mother, and shows up at the funeral, asking if he can help.  And best of all, he helps in the criminal investigation, when he thinks that she has been foolish.  He just won’t give up his love, even when she gives him no hope. 

I also liked his relationship with Higgins.  He goes from distrusting Higgins, to listening to him, to apologizing, to working with him.  This character arc shows that Thornton is a decent man who is willing to change his mind about someone.  By the end of the series, Thornton and Higgins truly respect each other.

Overall, I think Thornton’s greatest attraction is that we know him.  Thornton’s emotions and thoughts are transparent — the viewer never has to guess at what he is thinking or feeling.  That is very appealing.

After watching the miniseries, I read the novel.   I do wish the screenplay had included the scene where Thornton carries Margaret into his house after she’s been wounded, but I won’t complain.  Sandy Welch wrote an ending that was even more romantic than the one in the novel, which was very romantic for its day.

As I read the novel, I was amazed by the depth of the characterization.  The beauty of BBC North and South was not just a talented screenwriter and an amazing actor augmenting a great story.  Elizabeth Gaskell gave them the information they needed.  She describes more thoughts and emotions of her male lead than any other Victorian author that I recall. Rochester, is fascinating, but he is an enigma through most of Jane Eyre.  I haven’t read enough Dickens recently to discuss what he did, but I don’t remember him describing male and female thoughts with the same depth as Gaskell.  Interestingly, in the extra interview with Richard Armitage on the dvd, he mentions that he read the novel to prepare for the audition and to help him as he was performing the part.

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