The displacement of parody in six adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
In this thesis, I discuss the influence of the contemporary cultural climate on six Pride and Prejudice adaptations. Specifically, I look at how the parody present in Austen’s novel is displaced and applied to new targets so as to be better understood by modern audiences. Before considering the adaptations, I analyse Austen’s parodic methods starting with a selection of her juvenilia and ending with her last obviously parodic novel, Pride and Prejudice. Austen’s technique can be considered adaptations of contemporary authors whose works she relished reading. As Pride and Prejudice adapts and modifies a variety of cultural sources, so the subsequent adaptations of the novel derive from multiple sources beyond the novel alone. Indeed, the adaptors of the six works I am discussing draw from many contemporary works in addition to Austen’s novel to create unique and culturally relevant parodies. Starting with the oldest of the six adaptations, I begin by looking at the 1935 play Pride and Prejudice written by Helen Jerome and the 1940 film of the same name directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The contemporary popularity of the new genre of romantic comedy influences both adaptations, resulting in works which capitalize on slapstick comedy and double entendres to entertain the audiences. The next chapter looks at two adaptations that strive to translate Austen’s text and achieve fidelity to her novel. The 1995 miniseries Pride and Prejudice cuts little from Austen’s novel and uses much of the original dialogue to remain faithful to Austen’s parody. Though Pride & Prejudice & Zombies may seem an unlikely faithful adaptation since it adds an entire plot about a zombie plague, the author maintains Austen’s parodic targets, using different methods to mock the same aspects of Regency England that Austen satirised and moves beyond to mock the fans of zombie fiction. Finally, I finish by looking at two of the most modern Pride and Prejudice adaptations, the 2005 film, Pride & Prejudice and the 2009 comic book, Pride & Prejudice. These two works most clearly show the influence of the existing canon of Austen adaptations on new adaptations. Both adaptations purposely nod to previous works and then build upon them and contemporary pop culture to create their own interpretation of Austen’s parody. After considering these adaptations of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I argue that adaptations never use a single source and are created from the contemporary cultural climate and all the relevant works that came before. Austen’s novel and her parody cannot be replicated in an adaptation, nor should it be since adaptations cannot be measured by their fidelity to the source. The concept of fidelity must change to include the necessity of alterations when translating between media and cultural periods.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorJames-Cavan, Kathleen V.
CommitteeVargo, Lisa; Day, Moira; Voitkovska, Ludmilla
Copyright DateJanuary 2013
Pride and Prejudice