Engrossing Governesses.

Image result for emma movie images

Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma

A few days ago, I got a sudden desire to watch the 1996 Hollywood adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. As I watched it, the trajectory of Mrs. Weston, the titular character’s former governess, had me musing about the governesses I’ve encountered in my literary travels. Specifically, I wondered what would be the modern day equivalent of the young to not so young governess who, whether by stroke of luck, true love, or mercenary social climbing, finds herself the unlikely mistress of a house.

In addition to Mrs. Weston, I was reminded of Jane Eyre, the heroine of one of my favorite books. Despite the rather dismal plight that Jane suffers from one season of life to the next, she still manages to hold her character and convictions in the highest state, and at the end of it all, marries the man she loves and even has a son.

The last governess turned mistress I thought of was the mercenary Becky Sharp, from the novel Vanity Fair. A beautiful yet vicious social climber who can both blush and cry at will, the only bit of raw emotion we ever get from her is when she realizes her folly in marrying one wealthy man when she actually could have married his even more wealthy (and definitely more powerful) father. She is without question, of a different mold than the governesses mentioned above.

I’m interested in whether or not anyone reading here has a favorite or memorable literary governess I should investigate along my literary journey.

Related- Iconic Characters: Mr. Knightley

*I was torn between watching the PBS adaptation of Emma or the big budget adaptation. The quandary was based on the fact that although I preferred Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance in the title role of the feature film, I preferred Johnnie Lee Miler’s  PBS interpretation of Mr. Knightley light year’s more than the actor who portrayed Knightley in the feature film. I feel strongly about Mr. Knightley, as you may remember from the post linked above. You may not also notice that I never had much use for Mr. Darcy.

 

2 thoughts on “Engrossing Governesses.

  1. Bike Bubba says:

    Well, she was technically called a “nanny”, but Mary Poppins more closely follows the role of a governess in the movie at least. (teaching more than basic physical needs) That noted, not my favorite, as the book is something of a literary acid trip.

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  2. Elspeth says:

    Yes, Mary Poppins was definitely more of a governess in the books than the film.

    Not sure I forgot about her. I suspect because I was thinking more of governesses who ended up part of the family.

    Of course, Mrs. Weston doesn’t really fit the bill in the sense that she didn’t marry into the family. However, she was certainly very much family in the hearts of Emma and her father, Mr. Woodhouse.

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