11 comments on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

  1. One of the funnier scenes involves a walk to the nearby village of Merryton. Mr. Collins (the parson cousin who stands to inherit the Bennet property) escorts the Bennet sisters, who use the respectable excuse of visiting the Philips family in order to gawk at Mr. Wickham and his military regiment.

    On the road, they go armed with swords and rifles, but just outside the village they prefer to discard the heavier weapons so their dresses will make a more favorable impression on the soldiers. Since Mr. Collins has no gallantry, Elizabeth volunteers to carry the rifles. There ensues a very funny bit of slapstick as she staggers around under their weight, constantly dropping them and trying to figure out how to tote them efficiently.

    The whole thing is filled with hilarious moments like this. But you’ll probably never watch it. I know you won’t.

  2. I’m sorry, I really want to bond over appreciating this joke and all, but I can’t put up with Victorian literature well enough to even enjoy a parody of it. 😛

  3. Not a problem. I just like to effuse about little gems like this and the What We Do in the Shadows vampire movie. If a zombie comedy can get people to read Jane Austen (and I think this is at least a minor intention), then I get enthused, but I perfectly understand why such things are not everyone’s cup of tea.

    A minor FYI: The events in Pride and Prejudice take place in 1811-12, the beginning of the Regency Period. Victoria wouldn’t come to the throne until 1837 (the coronation was in 1838). While some people would disagree with me, I maintain that the Victorian Period actually started in 1832, the year when the Reform Act ushered in staggering ideological changes for the country. Readers of, say, Dickens’ Oliver Twist (serialized from 1837 to 1839) lived in a world much different than that of their counterparts in Austen’s era. This is important because it shows how well informed I am about additional things no one cares about.

  4. Since I mentioned tea in the first paragraph above, I must include a note on it here. By 1811, it was already a fixture of British daily life, having been popular for well over a hundred years. The first commercial tea shop in London was opened by Thomas Twining at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Until about 1720, green tea was the big favorite, but black tea overtook it. Although the tea industry was massive (and helped establish the sugar market), we must not discount the immense popularity of coffee and chocolate in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Strangely, none of these beverages receives much direct mention in Jane Austen, but then neither does food. What, then, are we to conclude? Were Jane Austen and her circle participating in some sort of tea abstention program? No. The absence of evidence does not equate to the presence of absence. That’s all we need to say about that.

  5. Also, in the early eighteenth century, the word “tea” was pronounced with a long “a” sound, as in these examples from Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1714):

    Soft yielding Minds to Water glide away,
    And sip with Nymphs, their Elemental Tea. (1.61-62)

    Here Britain’s Statesmen oft the Fall foredoom
    Of Foreign Tyrants, and of Nymphs at home;
    Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey,
    Dost sometimes Counsel take — and sometimes Tea. (3.5-8)

    It’s not clear how much the pronunciation changed by 1811. (I sensed an urgent need for this information, though I do not claim to have psychic powers.)

  6. Long ‘a’ and long ‘e’ are close enough with an accent that I’d wonder if it really changed? When I see this sort of thing I wonder how much credence can really be given to rhymes. Even in contemporary music “soft” rhymes are A-OK, so why not then?

  7. Hm. Well, I get the sense that pronunciation in Pope’s day hadn’t changed very radically from Shakespeare’s, when “book” and “hook” sounded a bit like a combination of “boat” and “boot.” The “o” in “home” would have been pronounced like the double-o in “moor,” so “-doom” and “home” weren’t so different. Likely, Shakespeare retained the Chaucerian pronunciation of “-ay” and “-ey” endings, so the “-ey” in “obey” could have been a combination of long “a” with a long “i” lilt, as in the way an Irish person might pronounce “fray.” So if Pope’s London more-or-less carried on the speech habits of Shakespeare’s city, that would explain the rhymes, which are not exactly what we know as long vowel sounds but rather a mutated form of them.

    To give some perspective, a “shift” in the way the vowels were pronounced was beginning to occur in Shakespeare’s era, but you would still have heard Queen Elizabeth sounding out long “a’s” as “ahs” and long “e’s” as “ays.” Some shifting had occurred by Queen Anne’s time, but it wouldn’t have been as extreme as the difference between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries.

    It’s all perfectly clear.

  8. Also, you don’t see many soft rhymes in Pope. He was the master of the so-called heroic couplet, which used “masculine” or distinctive rhyme endings. He would have avoided “feminine” endings as often as possible (probably considering their loose application of meter and rhyme as “cheats”).

  9. Look, I don’t want to embarrass you or anything, but my hastily and lazily formed half-assed opinion is OBVIOUSLY more air tight than your doctorate.

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