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With her signature insight, Jane Austen delves into the depths of the words which comprise of the title of the novel Pride and Prejudice. Each of the characters in the novel displays either pride or prejudice or both, in one way or another. Written in the 1800s, the dynamic Pride and Prejudice set the stage for other authors and screenwriters, among others to create similar works which explored the ideas of first impressions and the way in which prejudices can cause one to be prideful but can also change within time. Some of the modern works which have stemmed from Pride and Prejudice include Beauty and the Beast, Death Comes to Pemberly, Bride and Prejudice etc. Bridget Jones’s Diary is another one of these works which is very similar to Pride and Prejudice. In the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary, the director Sharon Maguire is able to maintain the main idea of Pride and Prejudice using characters with similar qualities and lives as those in the novel. The audience is introduced to Bridget, Daniel, and Mark, all of whom share evident similarities to Lizzy, Wickham, and Darcy, respectively. With the use of parallel plots and characters, Bridget Jones’s Diary can best be described as a modern-day spin-off of Pride and Prejudice.
The movie begins with Bridget telling the audience that it “is her 32nd year of being single” and explains that every year her mother “tries to fix her up.” This already sets the tone for a Pride and Prejudice kind of tale. Bridget, like Elizabeth, is of age to marry but has not found a suitable spouse. Similar to the case of Lizzy, Bridget also faces the added pressure of a mother who constantly reminds her that she needs to find a husband. What Mrs. Bennet and Bridget’s mother have even more in common is their determination to ensure that their daughters marry a wealthy man who can make them feel financially secure. For example, when discussing Mr. Bingley’s arrival to town, Mrs. Bennet mentions how great it is for her daughters that he is “a single man of large fortune” (Austen 4). Bridget’s mother also emphasizes on how Mark is “well-to-do” when attempting to convince Bridget of his suitability as a possible future spouse. Both females face constant pressures from exterior sources to settle down. The two characters happen to have their mothers as the most intense contributors to these pressures. In this way, Bridget and Elizabeth are very relatable characters who go through the same struggle at the hands of society.
The parallelism does not end there. Elizabeth and Bridget, in similar circumstances, show and receive prejudices from and towards Darcy and Mark upon their first meetings with each other. In Pride and Prejudice after Elizabeth’s first encounter with Darcy she formulates an opinion about him. Elizabeth judged Darcy based off of his comportment and immediately reached the conclusion that she did not like him. When talking to the Lucas’s about him, she says, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine” (Austen 41). Elizabeth shares three important things with the reader in this sentence. She explicitly states that Darcy is prideful, that she is also proud and that she is actually holding a grudge because of Darcy’s negative comments regarding her beauty. Subsequently, in Bridget Jones’s Diary this is seen when Bridget first meets Mark and draws a conclusion about him based on his sweater and the fact that he lives with his mother still. In addition to that, Bridget overhears Mark telling his mother that Bridget is a “verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother.” All of these factors turn Bridget off to the possibility of ever considering a future with Mark. These two events show how Elizabeth and Bridget share in their prideful nature as well as embarrassing experiences. It also touches on the prejudiced nature of Mark and Darcy which causes them to strain their chances at any form of relationships with Bridget and Lizzy. With four characters from both novels sharing such distinct similitudes in behavior, the parallelism which exists between the two stories becomes more obvious.
Another similar situation Lizzy and Bridget find themselves in is a ‘love triangle.’ At one point in time in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth finds herself falling for the sweet and charming Wickham while Darcy still has strong feelings for her. Wickham manages to grasp Lizzy’s attention at first sight as “Mr. Wickham was as far beyond” (Austen 176) all the other officers Lizzy laid eyes on. Wickham coaxed Lizzy into believing that Darcy was a wicked person until the truth came out and Lizzy discovered that Darcy was actually a good soul while Wickham was the contrary. In Bridget Jones’s Diary, Daniel appears to be the ‘Wickham’ of the movie. He charms Bridget for a while and makes her think he is the better choice as opposed to Mark. As expected, Bridget comes to the realization that Daniel’s story regarding Mark is a fallacy and that Mark is the more decent human being. Both Lizzy and Bridget end up with the men they previously detested. Even though, they are presented with two men and are puzzled for a period of time as to who to choose, Lizzy and Bridget are able to make the right decision once they get rid of their pride and Darcy and Mark do so as well. Consequently, Maguire and Austen introduce a similar view regarding the importance of remaining humble. They do so by incorporating this love triangle and allowing Lizzy and Bridget to successfully dissolve it after becoming more humble.
Although the movie was filmed in the 21st century and the book was written in the 19th century, Sharon Maguire and Jane Austen are able to make the stories relevant to the time period and relatable to one another. Bridget Jones’s Diary uses a more modern approach to addressing how pride and prejudice can affect relations and how people and situations can change when those two things are taken out of the equation. Austen echoes these same points but during a time period when pride and prejudice were more prevalent due to the way society was set up and the clear social hierarchy at the time. Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary are very similar works which convey the same message thanks to the use of parallel characters.
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