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Critical Analysis of The Film Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

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Jane Austen’s 1813 classic novel, Pride and Prejudice made its way to the silver screen in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation. The film is filled with romance, sprinkled with humour and intelligent dialogue, keeping the audience continually engaged. Despite the entertaining plot and well developed characters, there is a singular serious issue with the film, and that is its ridiculously contemporary approach. Although Elizabeth’s “just tumbled out of bed” appearance would be acceptable for a modern-day setting but historically, it remains inaccurate. The customs from the era were also not depicted appropriately. The casting of the film did a wonderful job at portraying all the characters and supported the novel. It comes as no surprise that things have changed since Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice and the 2005 adaptation did not execute this recreation the justice it deserved.

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The film begins by introducing Mr and Mrs Bennet, and their five daughters – Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia. As the family has no sons, Mrs Bennet’s only focus in life is to marry off her daughters before Mr bennet’s death. To their convenience, a wealthy bachelor by the name of Mr Bingley has moved into Nethersfield and is enchanted by their beautiful daughter, Jane. Elizabeth on the other hand has less luck and is quick to form an instant dislike for Darcy as she overhears him insulting her.

I must admit that the plot of the movie is far from dull and does an exquisite job at engaging the audience. However, I refuse to give the film much credit for its excellent plot considering it was entirely based off Jane Austen’s classic novel. The film in regards to the historical accuracy, is a poor representation of the time period and lacked research.

I was filled with disappointment when assessing the lack of the Regency hairstyles for the film. It seemed as though the entire Bennet family did not own a single hair comb or perhaps they had a rule that only allowed them to have one style each week. Almost every hairdo was inappropriate and although Elizabeth’s messy hair with bangs, may be justified for the modern era, did not become popular until many years later. Elizabeth is also caught multiple times out in society with her hair loose. This was viewed as brazen, immodest and even sinful at the time. Women of that time were expected to take great care of their presentation and often had elaborate hairstyles.

This image is from the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. This film was far more successful in portraying the hairstyles of the time period. The images below are examples of the inaccurate styles evident in the 2005 adaptation.

The messy, modern hair was not the only aspect that the film depicted incorrectly. The customs of the Regency period were shockingly inaccurate. Elizabeth’s habits of travelling without the company of a man and walking instead of using carriages would have been completely unacceptable in Jane Austen’s time. Except for walking to church or a park in the early morning, women were expected to always be accompanied by another woman, or a man. In the film, Elizabeth is depicted numerous times in her nightgown, and although this would not be viewed as an issue today, during the Regency period being seen in your pyjamas out in society would be culturally unacceptable. Darcy is also revealed bursting into Elizabeth’s bedroom unannounced. Men, were not permitted to enter a woman’s bedroom in that manner – though knocking may have been nice. The film’s intention was to capture the urgency and feeling that was described in Austen’s novel, however it is debatable whether this was the most appropriate method of portraying this. The film’s inaccuracies do not stop here and there are a myriad of other examples where the modern film completely ignores the etiquette and customs of the Regency era.

The director of the film had both the resources and budget to portray the time period correctly, therefore it is preposterous to think that the inaccuracies were accidental. The motivations behind modernising it may have been to appease the contemporary viewer-ship and box office success. It demonstrated that although we are living in a different era, many things do remain the same. The film sticks to many of the themes of the original novel and simply modifies it. Although Pride And Prejudice (2005) has little historical value, in terms of entertainment it was immensely successful. The film portrays Elizabeth as an honest, articulate and independent women in an era when women had very few rights. The protagonist’s strong will and independence is similar to how Jane Austen describes Elizabeth in her novel. The modern adaptation had suitable casting with Keira Knightly taking control of the scenes and adding power and personality to Elizabeth’s character.

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The 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was successful in engaging the audience thanks to the powerful plot originally written by Jane Austen. In terms of its historical accuracy, the movie is of little value. The director failed to recreate the Regency era and had an inappropriate representation of the hairstyles and customs of the period. All in all, the movie is a 6 out of 10 being both moving and hilarious at the same time.  

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Critical Analysis Of The Film Adaptation Of Pride And Prejudice. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from
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