Ehle Success? Yes, but… (Pride and Prejudice‘s Thesis)

Jennifer Ehle undertaking to enact Elizabeth Bennet when she gives Lady Catherine de Bourgh some “pushback:” (the first five minutes)

But Jane Austen wrote some dialogue which this BBC rendition does not include. And one set of sentences expresses Lizzy’s fire better than any of the lines they gave Jennifer Ehle to say here. The most important moment for the most important character of Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth says to Lady Catherine,

Allow me to say, Lady Catherine, that the arguments with which you have supported this extraordinary application have been as frivolous as the application was ill-judged. You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these.

ICYMI: Lady Catherine’s nephew had, in fact, proposed to Elizabeth–in the early springtime. Now it is fall. She rejected him adamantly at first, but has since learned to second-guess herself. He, too, has shown that he could learn something about his shortcomings and try to correct them–by acting in the interests of others.

In the spring, both Lizzy–whose has no money–and Darcy–who appears to have more money than anyone–acted willfully. Now, with time to reflect, experience contrition, and make amends, they see things differently. Their hearts have moved closer together because both have managed to accept the mortification of their vanity and pride.

Meanwhile, Lady Catherine, willful as ever, attempts to browbeat Elizabeth into disappearing altogether. IMHO, Elizabeth’s words (which Jennifer Ehle never got to say, alas!) reveal the great thesis of all of Jane Austen’s magnificent stories:

Genuine strength and determination proceed from the harmony of your will with one thing: reason. Good reasons convince, and when the heart listens to them, it grows both tamer and immeasurably stronger and more capable of love. On the other hand, emotional manipulations only insult everyone involved. Willfulness for its own sake serves no purpose. Determination based on reflection and reason: this makes heroes.

What hero could be more altogether admirable and lovable than Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Herefordshire?

Also, ICYMI: This weblog dedicated to a) God’s Word and b) all things Jennifer Ehle.

Really Painful Movie

Zero Dark Thirty 1

Zero dark thirty. That’s when I turn on the light and read a few chapters of St. Thomas’ Summa Contra Gentiles.

The movie of the same name: finally got around to seeing it. Yes, Jennifer Ehle appears, speaking a strange Amuricken language. And the unforgettable Mercutio of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet (Harold Perrineau Jr.) And Jessica Chastain.

Every reason to like the movie, in other words. But: It’s not dramatically coherent.

Replicate the great Seal-Team-Six moment. Fill up two hours to lead up to the helicopter take-off. That’s called the dramatic tail wagging the shaggy dog.

Osama_bin_Laden_compound1Director Kathryn Bigelow had a ‘hunt for Bin Laden’ movie already in the works, apparently. Then we actually found ‘UBL,’ in real life. The movie had to get retrofitted to accommodate reality. It shows.

That said, watching made me want to visit the sites. Pakistan, Afganistan. (And Jordan, where the filming actually occurred.) May God provide the opportunity.

I still wish we could have tried bin Laden in a court of law. The movie means to celebrate the Seals, and the dogged spies–and so they should be celebrated. But the death of the innocent during the raid, and the orphans left in the dark house when the helicopter took off… The neighbors left to walk into the bloody halls to find the screaming children… Those neighbors would not think well of us Americans, I don’t think.

Bigelow refers to the decade between 9/11 and Operation Neptune Spear as “dark.” I can hardly think of any decade in which Sheryl Crow released something like seven albums as ‘dark.’

But maybe the nought decade was dark. If it was, the helicopter raid of May 1, 2011 has hardly dispelled the darkness.

That day has NOT served as the bookend to 9/11. Turns out the shelf had a lot more books on it: Books of small-minded mutual incomprehension–the kind that leaves orphans in its wake.

Miscellany + What the Jennifer Ehle Fan Notices

Archbishop Dolan with his second-grade teacher

Click HERE for Timothy Card. Dolan op-ed on Reforma Migratoria.

…Here’s a little homily for today:

The Lord Jesus chose His twelve Apostles. Then He stood to speak to a great crowd. Anyone know what He said to begin? The first part of the great sermon? The heart of His teaching?

Here’s a hint: “Blessed are…” The Beatitudes.

Ok. Let’s review from the beginning. I mean literally the beginning. The first man’s name was… The very first man. Starts with an ‘A’…

Adam and Eve sinned and lost God’s friendship. They lost their blessedness. But the Lord began a covenant with another man whose name starts with ‘A,’ namely… The father of the nation of Israel…

twin towersNow, God asked Abraham to leave his homeland and wander as a nomad. God demanded absolute obedience from Abraham. Truth to tell, God gave Abraham a pretty rough life, a life requiring enormous faith. But Abraham kept going, because God had given him such wonderful…

To Abraham, God had made magnificent…

“You will have descendants more numerous than the sands of the seashore and the stars of the sky. In your descendants, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

God promised Abraham that he would father a unique nation–the nation of salvation, the nation of blessedness. Abraham never completely understood the Lord’s promises. But he believed them. He believed them.

So maybe we could say: Lesson #1 we can take from the Holy Bible is this: God makes promises, and He keeps them.

Jesus’ Beatitudes promise us that if we dedicate ourselves to God, we will find His kingdom. In the meantime, we will suffer. We will be hungry. We will have to struggle to hold on to what is good and holy. When we dedicate ourselves to God, we find that other people wind up having more money and being more popular. Other people have fancy lives, while we wait on God in the cheap seats.

But: It’s worth it. God makes promises, and He keeps them. We read how power went forth from Christ, power that overcame sickness and evil. That power dwells in us, when we have faith.

Probably none of you young people can remember. Twelve years ago tomorrow, all of us older Americans had to look at death over our morning coffee. Because a catastrophic terrorist attack hit our country, almost out of nowhere. Over 2,000 innocent people died.

We needed spiritual power that morning. We needed to listen, as if for the first time, to Jesus’ Beatitudes. Yes, in this world, there is suffering. Yes, evil comes our way. But when we love God and seek His kingdom; when we try to make peace and act with justice; when we let go of the fleeting pleasures of life and reach out towards God’s eternal holiness: when we follow Christ, in other words, we have nothing to fear. Even death. We don’t even have to fear death, because the Lord has promised us eternal life.

Let’s pray for peace. Let’s hope for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus keeps His promises. Blessed are we when we remember that.

kings-speech ehle rush firth

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again. (The Tempest, Act III, Scene 2)

Any run-of-the-mill Jennifer Ehle fan takes note of the fact that she and Colin Firth re-united in “The King’s Speech.”* Ehle plays Lionel Logue’s wife Myrtle.

Jennifer Ehle ElizaMyrtle says ‘perhaps’ exactly like Eliza did in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice. Though, with only two short scenes with Lionel, Ehle hardly has the opportunity “to exhibit”–as Mr. Bennett would put it.

What would require a higher level of intensity in the Jennifer-Ehle-fan department: Noticing that the Pride-and-Prejudice reunion involves another actor, too.

Mr. Collins also appears in “the King’s Speech:” David Bamber plays the director of the Richard III production that Lionel does not get a part in.

But did any other Jennifer Ehle fan, while watching “The King’s Speech,” notice this? For the amusement of his sons, Lionel recites a speech from Shakespeare–Caliban’s speech, about the enchanted isle where The Tempest takes place.

Who dwells on the isle? Which innocent daughter of the resident magician? Miranda. And who portrayed Miranda in the Arkangel Shakespeare audio production?

Jennifer Ehle.

* I know the movie came out some time ago. But it just arrived at the public library.

On First Recognizing Jennifer Ehle’s Voice on Film

I found the following scribbled on a slip of paper, tucked into the public library’s copy of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice:

On First Recognizing Jennifer Ehle’s Voice on Film

Does she thus live? With such eyes, cheekbones, and lips?
With this quietly furnaced fire?

It began with the springtime-mountain-brook sound filling the car,
highway hours moving with Propero’s Miranda.
A daughter’s duty spoken gently; articulate, sweet.
The Prince lands, and The Tempest’s breathless Eve
beholds her Adam. Her voice keeps the fruit ripe on the branches.

Then, a lazy evening with a set of DVDs: O heavenly God,
do you so ply both lute and brush together?
Darcy’s Eliza—a sister and friend
with the same patient music of duty,
now gamboling on the dale with glistening eyes!
now standing her ground under an autumn arbor
with steel-spined zeal for truth,
admitting to herself error, but not defeat.

My Bard, my dear Jane Austen: never despair.
The fulfillment of these, your heroines,
time has given freely.
Check the jewel cases. Both credits read:
played by Jennifer Ehle.


1. Keats invented the genre, as you may recall. We tried it here last spring.

2. In between the news and various forms of tune-age, one might enjoy the Arkangel Shakespeare for company in the car.