EDIT 19 Oct. 2013 to repair broken links.
Posted by by - caggle on Sat Apr 7 2007 02:32:47
"...and the accent on the (american?) Mrs Elton! OMG...it was the worst thing ever"
I think for some bizarre reason, they DID make her an American in this version. Her accent was terrible, whatever it was meant to be. It seemed to waver between American and Irish, and did not, to me, sound even vaguely West Country, as has been suggested. Also, at dinner one night, Jane Fairfaz was talking about the necesiity for her to find a job and made some remark (can't remember it exactly) about slave labour, meaning she would be completely at someon else's beck and call. Mrs Elton was angry, and asked if that was a cut at her because of the slave trade. So, American.
Even if Lucy Robinson doesn't carry off a perfect rendering of a Bristol accent, the Bristol accent is indeed what was intended. The notion that the filmmakers intentionally portrayed Mrs. Elton as an American is amusing to me, actually.
You referred to Jane Fairfax's remark:
I beg you would not, Mrs. Elton. There are places in town where enquiry would soon produce employment. Offices for the sale...not quite of human flesh -- but of human intellect."
Jane clearly feels oppressed and distressed by Mrs. Elton's officious interest, and sadly stoical about her fate. [...]
Oh! My dear! You quite shock me, if you mean a fling at the slave-trade!
No, no. The governess-trade was all I had in view. Different as the guilt of those who carry it on -- but as to the greater misery of the victims, I am not sure where it lies.
(quoted from Andrew Davies' screenplay of Jane Austen's Emma, as printed in the book: The Making of Jane Austen's Emma, by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin, Penguin Books, p. 122)
Davies took this scene directly from the text of Austen's novel:
"Excuse me, ma'am, but this is by no means my intention; I make no inquiry myself, and should be sorry to have any made by my friends. When I am quite determined as to the time, I am not at all afraid of being long unemployed. There are places in town, offices, where inquiry would soon produce something -- offices for the sale, not quite of human flesh, but of human intellect."
"Oh! my dear, human flesh! You quite shock me; if you mean a fling at the slave-trade, I assure you Mr. Suckling was always rather a friend to the abolition."
"I did not mean, I was not thinking of the slave-trade," replied Jane; "governess-trade, I assure you, was all that I had in view; widely different certainly, as to the guilt of those who carry it on; but as to the greater misery of the victims, I do not know where it lies. But I only mean to say that there are advertising offices, and that by applying to them I should have no doubt of very soon meeting with something that would do" [emphasis mine] (ch. 35).
Not only does the word slave-trade
appear in Austen's text, but many literary scholars believe that she intended the character of Mrs. Elton to be associated with the slave trade through the allusions
to the English slave trade embedded in the text.
Mrs. Elton's maiden name is Augusta Hawkins
; she comes from Bristol
, but she meets Mr. Elton
. Her sister's husband, Mr. Suckling, owns an estate called Maple
Grove. Prior to her marriage to Mr. Elton, Augusta spends a great deal of time at Maple Grove with her sister and brother-in-law.
According to English history, a man named John Hawkins
was a famous 17th century slave trader. He is widely regarded as having started the slave trade in England. (The following link is to a Microsoft Word doc, hosted at BristolReads.com
was a very famous port connected to the slave trade in England. http://discoveringbristol.org.uk/slavery/
There was a real family of Eltons
who were well known slave-traders. Sir Abraham Elton, Whig MP in 1722, invested in slaving voyages. The Elton family owned a brass works that earned an excellent income selling goods to slaving ships -- brassware was one of the main trade goods carried by slaving ships to exchange for slaves in Africa. The Elton's traded from Bristol, where they lived in abundant style until they eventually built a new home in Bath
Then there are connections between Maple and Slavery:
English abolitionists like Levi Coffin created "Free Labor Stores" for people who wished to boycott products made from slave labor. These stores stocked only items made by free labor, substituting maple syrup or maple sugar
for cane sugar, and cotton produced by free people. http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/history/hs_lp_indigo.htm
Mr. Suckling's association with maple trees (trees that are capable of producing sugar) suggests that Mr. Suckling's "seat" has an association with making money from sugar (which was "code" for having made money through the slave trade, since slave labor was used to make sugar on plantations).
Also: "Miss Hawkins was the youngest of two daughters of a Bristol - merchant, of course, he must be called" (ch. 22). The narrator's little hesitation is to underscore the hint that Miss Hawkins' father was a slave merchant. (Thanks to queenofthestars-1.)
Here is a link that outlines a lot of allusions to slavery in the subtext of Jane Austen's Emma
I guess I don't understand why the reference to slavery would somehow be code in this film for American
? It's not as though the US is the only country in the world to have slavery in its history.
Perhaps I have misunderstood your meaning, if so, I do apologize.
I prefer this version so much more to the film. Although Mark Strong isn't attractive like Jeremy Norton he his more like what I expected from reading the book, beacuse in the film version he his to much of a clean cut gentlemen. I always thought that Knightly had a bit of roughness to him. I think that Mark Strong becomes quite sexy when he gets angry with emma, it's passionate(bear in mind that I am in my twenties, and am able to find an attractivness to his performance)
If you read the book Emma, is kind of a Bitch, but likeable. Which I felt when I saw Kate play the role (similar to the way cher was played in clueless) So I think Kate did a pretty good job
And even though for many years, I was madly in love with Ewan Mcgregor I still could admit he really wasn't good in this role.
What bugs me about both of these adaptions is harriet. I like Samantha Morton and Toni colette in other roles, but I really felt that neither was right for this part.
I like both adaptations, but the one thing that really bothered me about the Gwyneth Paltrow version was that the Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax storyline was butchered, which is a part that I really enjoy in the novel as it creates the detective/mystery element of the story (also loads of amusing bitchy moments from Frank and Emma and the tensions between him and Jane). that did disappoint me and I was pleased that this version didn't butcher it.
Actually, a very good friend of mine attended question-and-answer sessions at which this project and others were discussed with people who had worked on the production.
As for the date by which Britain had abolished the trading of slaves, I am well aware of it. But it does not preclude the slave-trade from remaining a factor that still weighed heavily (only 7 years later) on the consciousness of people from a place with as deep a histroy in slave-trading as Bristol.
It seems that it was still on Austen's consciousness enough in 1815 as she wrote the novel, and infused it with all those allusions to the slave-trade in Bristol.
And this is from the stage directions for Mrs. Elton in the scene at Hartfield, when Emma and Harriet have tea with the newlywed Eltons:
68 INTERIOR. HARTFIELD. DRAWING-ROOM. day
Mrs. Elton is talking to, or at, Emma, who listens politely. [In the book Harriet isn't there, but I'd like to have her here to listen.]
Mr. Elton is at the other side of the room, ostensibly talking to Mr. Woodhouse, but sending many proud and loving gazes across at Mrs. Elton. She is a handsome woman, with strong traces of a Bristol accent [emphasis mine] , and a very good opinion of herself.
(From Andrew Davies' script, as cited in The Making of Jane Austen's Emma, by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin, Penguin Books, p. 118)
Well, I've never claimed Robinson performed a good Bristol accent, which you will see, if you reread my first reply to you in this thread. I've merely pointed out that a Bristol accent is what was intended, rather than an American one.
Blame the dialect coach, Joan Washington, who has been the dialect coach for more than 61 productions.
All it shows is that the production did a poor job
Not really. It does, however, disprove the assertions that the filmmakers intentionally portrayed Mrs. Elton as an American.
@ Randommovies2002: Really interesting and informative post - thanks!
You're welcome! Glad people are still gleaning helpful info. from these older threads.
(Sorry to find that someone has deleted all of her posts from this discussion.)
If you're interested in exploring this topic further, you might look up the book Jane Austen in the Context the Abolition by Gabrielle White.
Also: "Miss Hawkins was the youngest of two daughters of a Bristol - merchant, of course, he must be called;" (Ch 22)
The inference here to be made is that her father was in fact a slave-merchant.
Thanks! You're right, I should have included that quotation in my earlier post. I think I'll add it in, along with a link to a site that delves into the slavery allusions more deeply than I did above.