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Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Interview with the Austen Authors, pt 2: Favorite Scene

The Austen Authors are back with us again today, this time getting a bit personal as they answer the second question placed before them:  
What is your favorite scene in all of Austen?

Naturally I am partial to Pride and Prejudice and every scene between Darcy and Elizabeth. But I have to say for sheer, “you go girl!” power I love when Lady Catherine barges in on a totally unsuspecting Lizzy Bennet, who then proceeds to confound the old battle-ax with a brilliant display of witty comebacks and word manipulation. It is awe-inspiring. I could only wish to be so poised and rapid-fire!  ~ Sharon Lathan, Miss Darcy Falls in Love 

My favorite Austen scene would be from Persuasion. After years of separation, Anne Elliot once again meets Captain Frederick Wentworth. A young Anne and an undistinguished young naval officer had fallen in love eight years earlier, but because of pressure from her family, Anne had agreed to stop seeing Frederick. Although separated by time and distance, they never stopped loving each other. Anne’s constancy is finally rewarded when Captain Wentworth comes back into her life and writes her one of English literature’s greatest love letters:
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you… F.W.”
This novel is a mature love story, a meeting of the minds and hearts of two people destined to ride off into the sunset of literary immortality.  ~  Mary Simonsen, Anne Elliot, A New Beginning

Well, it has to be one with Lizzy and Darcy. And, because I'm such an incurable romantic, it also has to be that one at the end of Pride and Prejudice when he proposes a second time and she finally can tell him how much her feelings for him have changed. Ahhh, love! I adore those scenes right after that, too, where they have this tremendous and joyous secret between them but no one else is in on it yet. Then, slowly, the revelations are made. I could read those last chapters of the book over every single day and never tire of them.  ~ Marilyn Brant, According to Jane

I *love* Mr. Collin's proposal to Lizzy. He's so deliciously obnoxious, so unaware of what a hash he's making of the whole thing. And then he can't believe that Lizzy would actually turn him down! How could she? I also think this proposal is similar to Mr. Darcy's first proposal (LOL), except that Mr. Collins is hilarious whereas Mr. Darcy is deadly serious. Lizzy reacts in horror to both men. ~ Monica Fairview, The Other Mr. Darcy

My favorite scene in all of Austen is when Fanny Price refuses to bow to pressure from Lord Bertram to entertain Henry Crawford's proposal. Whenever I read it, I am always filled with anxiety that THIS TIME Fanny will cave to the pressure and be seduced by the comfortable life she might have with Henry. And I am always relieved and surprised that no matter how much berating and psychological violence Lord Bertram doles out, Fanny refuses to budge.  ~ Cindy Jones, My Jane Austen Summer

Either of Darcy’s two proposals, or Wentworth’s letter. Please don’t make me choose!  ~ Juliet Archer, The Importance of Being Emma

Okay, I'm going to buck the trend here and say the first proposal from P&P. Yes, it's a horrible fight, but it's a brilliant scene. JA does here best work leading up two it, painting two very different experiences for the main characters: Darcy is bemused by Elizabeth showing up of all places at his aunt's home, his infatuation is confirmed by his cousin Fitzwilliam's clear attraction to Elizabeth, and he feels the moment is right to make a 'Bold and Daring' move, which while shocking all his friends and family now, will with time (he's certain) be admired for his vision. Meanwhile, Elizabeth, which being lightly flirted with, has found out what Darcy 'really' thinks of her family, when she learns he cause his friend to break up with the most socially acceptable sister of the bunch. That confirmation that even the best Bennet is still not good enough hits one of Elizabeth's buttons hard, so that when Darcy comes swooping in, she's primed to explode. As a writer it's really hard to get your characters to fight in a way that both sides can still be sympathized with, and that doesn't feel contrived or false. JA manages to find a perfect balance point and the result is exhilarating. ~ Heather Lynn Rigaud, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star

When Darcy leaves the inn in Lambton after hearing about Lydia & Wickham. Elizabeth realizes in that moment she could really love Darcy and believes it now to be all in vain because of Lydia's actions.  ~ Carolyn Eberhart, A Darcy Christmas
Elizabeth matching swords with Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  ~ Diana Birchall, Mrs. Elton in America

My favorite scene is when Elizabeth and Darcy meet again at Pemberley. When I first read the novel at the age of 12, I was not sophisticated enough to realize the plot ploy, and I was simply thrilled that there was a chance that they might find each other again. I always felt a bit cheated, though. I wanted to know what Darcy and Elizabeth would say to each other, and Jane Austen does not provide her readers with those details. It was not until the 1995 adaptation that was I satisfied with the image that this short scene held for me. Even without Colin Firth's wet shirt, the scene was my imagination come to life. 

"As they walked across the hall toward the river Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road which led behind it to the stables. 

“They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of both were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely stared, and for a moment seemed immovable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced toward the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility."  ~ Regina Jeffers, Darcy’s Passions

The letter scene in Persuasion. I love following Frederick and Anne in their pivotal scene, especially because they aren’t communicating directly during it. It’s a masterpiece.  ~ Abigail Reynolds, Morning Light

My favorite scene is from Sense and Sensibility and I am afraid it is too much colored by the wonderful interpretation done by Emma Thompson's screenplay for the movie. In the book, near the end, Edward Ferrars visits the Dashwood ladies. He is anxious about his reception; they, in turn, are under the misapprehension that he is married. Elinor, who secretly loves him, is stoic as always, polite and kind. It hurts her too much, however, to look him in the eyes when her mother and sister inquire after his new wife. He is confused, and then begins to realize what has happened.
The movie version, to me, is even more emotional. When he utters those words and Elinor, played by Emma Thompson, realizes that the love of her life is not married, she emits a noise that is indescribable. It is horrible - a sob, a blubber, a gasp. She then launches into the best "ugly cry" I have ever seen, complete with sloppy snorts and sniffles and howls. I myself burst into "ugly cry" every time I watch that scene. But, what girl could not feel for her in that moment. The man she has loved silently is suddenly available - the future life without him that she had dreaded but was resigned to was suddenly gone. She and her love would be one.  ~ Karen Wasylowski, Darcy and Fitzwilliam

My favorite scene in Austen novels is the rambling walk during which Darcy and Elizabeth cannot stop apologizing to each other for all of their previous misunderstandings. Such an exquisite agony and ecstasy of self-blame and forgiveness. Austen at the peak of her power.  ~ Kathryn L. Nelson, Pemberley Manor

My favorite scene in all of Austen is when Frederick Wentworth rescues Anne Elliot from the naughty little Walter Musgrove. The boy has sneaked up on her, bent on bothering his injured brother, and crawled onto her back and then won't get off. Charles Hayter, a family member, scolds the boy but does nothing to stop his antics. Wentworth takes over and disentangles Walter and takes him away from her, talking to him under his breath. When I wrote it, I had Wentworth comparing the 2 year-old to his namesake, Sir Walter. I enjoy the scene because it's the first time we see Wentworth stop with his "cold politeness" and reach out to her, being careful not to actually touch her I'm sure. He won't talk to her or accept her thanks, but this act prepares him for the scene with the gig in the walk to Winthrop.  ~ Susan Kaye, None But You

The first proposal scene for Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, which is in a way far more climactic than the second proposal scene, and features the greatest put-downs of Austen that aren't sly comments said on the side.  ~ Marsha Altman, The Road to Pemberley
I’m sure I won’t be the only person who picks the scene where Captain Wentworth writes his love letter to Anne. I love the way Jane builds the scene from the conversations in the background when Anne is talking to Captain Harville and tells him “...We certainly do not forget you so soon as you forget us...” She is aware that he has probably heard everything that they have discussed, and the tension increases when he leaves the room without a glance in her direction. But, then in the next minute, he is back and drawing out a letter with ‘eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her’! On top of all this wonderful drama we are privy to Anne’s letter, and what a letter! At last, we have proof that Captain Wentworth never stopped loving her - ‘You pierce my soul’, ‘I have loved none but you’ - I’m certain we all know it by heart!  ~ Jane Odiwe, Willoughby’s Return

Hard to say. But one of them is John Willoughby trying to justify his actions to a skeptical Elinor Dashwood at Cleveland while Marianne lies ill upstairs in Sense and Sensibility.  ~ Jack Caldwell, The Three Colonels

Once again, hats off to Sharon Lathan, who rounded up the Austen Authors and put this post together. You can check out their first interview, in which they each played match-maker, here.

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  1. Loved this post! I have to say I adored the scene in Persuasion where Wentworth writes that swoony-worthy letter to Anne, but I also enjoyed the scene where he takes little Walter Musgrove off Anne's back. I so love that book!

  2. It was SO hard to pick a single scene in all of Austen! Unfair!! But we managed. Thanks for the opportunity, Misty. Great fun!

  3. This is why we are still reading Austen nearly 200 years after her death. She was brilliant, and these selections prove it.

  4. I wasn't included in this because I couldn't decide one was my favorite! I love the scene where Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him (for the second time) after she has been living on tenterhooks wondering if he still loves her or if he is just checking out Jane' feelings for the sake of Bingley.

  5. P.S. Jane, Thanks for having us on your blog.

  6. There are too many compelling moments in Austen's works to choose only one. I changed my mind multiple times.

  7. It was lovely to see all the Austen Authors responses together like this. Thanks so much.

  8. Austen was a master when it came to small things. A child's naughtiness, writing a letter, or just meeting someone you didn't expect became pivotal moment in her work.

    I just hope I can hit that sweet spot now and again.

    Thanks for having us, Jane.

  9. This was fun to read, thank you Sharon for putting it all together for us to read. I'm glad the S&S scene where Elinor finds out Edward isn't married was among the favorites. It always makes me cry. She has been so strong and it all just comes crashing out of her.

    I love all the scenes mentioned and also the "accomplished woman" scene in P&P. I love when Darcy accuses Lizzy of willfully misunderstanding him. I swear, I think if they'd been alone in the room for that debate, he'd have kissed her then.


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