The story of Jane Austen's life in the eighteenth century and what brought her to write what I consider to be some of the best works of English Literature, and which are at least six of the best known works, is told dramatically and with humour and love through the film, Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway as Jane, Julie Walters as Mrs Austen (also known for her roles in Harry Potter as Mrs Weasley and Rosie in Mamma Mia), and Maggie Smith as Lady Gresham, whom wishes Jane to wed a young male relative of hers rather than the gorgeous yet not-so-savoury Irishman Jane almost elopes with.
This film chronicles their love affair, and also the desire of Jane to be a writer, something her father is proud of yet something that goes against the wishes of her mother, an albeit caring mother but with expectations of her children, especially her daughters, much like Mrs Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, though not as intense and dramatic as her literary counterpart.
The love story between Jane and Thomas Lefroy, played by James McAvoy, begins upon their meeting at a dance, and verbal sparring back and forth whilst dancing instigates a relationship between the two. Following their break up, Jane sets about writing what was to become known as Pride and Prejudice, and a jump of twenty years is made following the break-up.
After the jump, Jane, not apparently in her early forties at least, is a famous author with admiring fans. It is at this stage, at a party that she reunites with her old flame, Lefroy, and his daughter, whom he has named Jane a great fan of the work of her namesake. At the request of the young woman, Jane reads to her fans.
This movie depicts that the expectations placed upon a person are not always what is right and that we all follow our own oath. By not marrying and not having children, Jane was able to write and perhaps if she had married, given the time in which she lived, she may have written vastly different novels or perhaps not written at all if she had had a family to raise.
The movie illustrates through Jane and her actions and invariably, her inactions, that each era and society has its own expectations placed upon men and women, adult and child, and through Jane, it is shown that these barriers and expectations can be broken.
Jane wrote about what she knew – a maxim told to writers all the time, and thus by using her experiences, Jane wrote some of the most popular novels. Astute viewers may notice similarities between the fictional world of Austen and her real world, especially in her characters. All in all, a most enjoyable film, and one that I find that I can revisit.