The 2009 Miniseries Adaptation Of Jane Austen 's Emma Essay

The 2009 Miniseries Adaptation Of Jane Austen 's Emma Essay

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The 2009 miniseries adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, directed by Jim O’Hanlon and adapted for the screen by Sandy Welch, pulls themes of travel, community, and homecoming from the novel and presents them in a way that offers new insight and perspective on the novel itself. This adaptation stars Romola Garai as Emma and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley and, unlike other adaptations of Austen novels focuses less on the romance between the hero and heroine, and more on the circumstances and themes that link Emma, Jane Fairfax (Laura Pyper), and Frank Churchill (Rupert Evans). Through the use of opening backstory and dialogue, the film highlights this link in a way that offers new and interesting insight not only into the relationship between the three characters, but also into the themes of travel, community, and homecoming which are present in the novel. Thus, this adaptation offers commentary and even critical insight into the themes that Austen explores in her novel.
The film opens with a narrator relating the life of Emma Woodhouse from the time that she was born and describing her childhood. It briefly describes her parents and transitions to her mother’s death and her father’s resolution to keep his daughters close. As the narrator describes how the sun continues to shine on Emma, we see her walking down a lane hand in hand with her governess, Anne Taylor. Two gentlemen, Mr. Weston and Dr. Perry, rush to a house on the corner, Mr. Weston entreating Dr. Perry to hurry in to his fatally ill wife, as this happens, Emma is pulled along, away from the spectacle, by Miss Taylor. The narration then goes on to say that other children are not so lucky as Emma, and that “Frank Weston’s world was turned upside-down.” The film briefly sh...


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...me importance. As the scene continues, Emma once again compares herself to Jane Fairfax, stating “even Jane has friends and the desire to be with them in Ireland and Weymouth.” As stated before, this further exemplifies how Emma is herself the outsider when it comes to Jane and Frank.
Overall, the miniseries does an excellent job of taking the themes present in Austen’s novel and presenting them to the audience in a way that slightly subverts and draws out new and interesting interpretations of them. Though this miniseries stands alone fairly well, if examined side by side with Austen’s novel, then it becomes a kind of annotation or companion to the novel. As stated before, it offers complex, well thought out, commentary on Austen’s themes, and, much like a literary criticism, offers the audience a new way of looking at the characters and events in Austen’s novel.

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