Minor Characters // Margaret Dashwood

Margaret Dashwood. Such a sweet girl. Funny, slightly annoying, but so likable. I really like her. She reminds me a bit of my sister, actually. But the Margaret in both Sense and Sensibility movies is not at all like Jane Austen created her. And I pity that.
I read Sense and Sensibility before watching either movies, so I imagined her as Jane Austen wrote.
Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humoured, well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.

Margaret is thirteen - cheerful, bubbly and a hopeless romantic. She loves getting involved in her sister's love lives. She reminds me a bit of a slightly younger Lydia Bennet, somehow - of course, somewhat less energetic and naughty, perhaps - but still, a little like her. A handful, but ready and growing. And although she's by no means clever, she means well.
His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret an absolute old bachelor...
Margaret agreed, and they pursued their way against the wind, resisting it with laughing delight for about twenty minutes longer...
Marianne's preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance than precision, styled Willoughby, called at the cottage...
When I read the book, I had the feeling that Margaret and Marianne seemed pretty close. I liked their relationship. I can imagine the two of them talking about how 'old' Colonel Brandon is. 'An absolute old bachelor, ay, Marianne?!'
Also, I find it ironic that they made Marianne drag Margaret on the walk in the movies, as in the book she agrees with her sister that 'there is no felicity in the world superior to it.'
Margaret related something to her the next day, which placed this matter in a still clearer light. Willoughby had spent the preceding evening with them, and Margaret, by being left some time in the parlour with only him and Marianne, had had opportunity for observations, which, with a most important face, she communicated to her eldest sister...
Margaret's sagacity was not always displayed in a way so satisfactory to her sister. When Mrs. Jennings attacked her one evening at the park, to give the name of the young man who was Elinor's particular favourite, which had been long a matter of great curiosity to her, Margaret answered by looking at her sister, and saying, "I must not tell, may I, Elinor?"
"I never had any conjectures about it," replied Margaret; "it was you who told me of it yourself."
Haha, she really reminds me of Lydia Bennet in these snippets. She likes news (News? Oh yes, I always like news!) and she likes gossiping and... oh, she's such a cheeky, flighty teenaged girl.
I wish," said Margaret, striking out a novel thought, "that somebody would give us all a large fortune apiece!"
"Oh dear!" cried Margaret, "how happy I should be! I wonder what I should do with it!"
Mrs. Dashwood's and Elinor's appetites were equally lost, and Margaret might think herself very well off, that with so much uneasiness as both her sisters had lately experienced, so much reason as they had often had to be careless of their meals, she had never been obliged to go without her dinner before...
'The real' Margaret Dashwood was more grown up and sophisticated than either Margaret's in the adaptions. She's imaginative, and reads and wishes big things.
Marianne had retreated as much as possible out of sight, to conceal her distress; and Margaret, understanding some part, but not the whole of the case, thought it incumbent on her to be dignified, and therefore took a seat as far from him as she could, and maintained a strict silence.
Mrs. Dashwood was prudent enough to remain at the cottage, without attempting a removal to Delaford; and fortunately for Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, when Marianne was taken from them, Margaret had reached an age highly suitable for dancing, and not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover.
Sneaky and cheeky as Margaret may be, she is not really clever, so doesn't understand all the why's and when's of Elinor and Marianne's love lives.
At the end of the book, Jane Austen writes that Margaret starts thinking of lovers and starts going to dancing, having reached an age 'highly suitable for dancing.' So seriously, this Margaret is a young lady - thirteen in the beginning - maybe fourteen or fifteen at the end.
In the 1995 S&S movie adaption, we hear Margaret ask her mother if she can also go to London. 'I'll be twelve soon,' she says.
The other version (2008) doesn't mention her age, but - see the screencap above - we can see her birth date in the Dashwood family Bible. Thus I have observed that in the 2008 version, they made her five years younger than Marianne. Marianne being, let's say, seventeen, Margaret is the right age - thirteen - in that version. That's probably the main reason why I prefer Lucy Boyton's Margaret - she was more the right age (and, for example, they made her dance in one scene, which I loved). But still, she wasn't the book-Margaret. She was small and tomboyish.
Both adaptions have the same sort of Margaret-girl. And both adaptations did not follow Jane Austen's instructions for the youngest Dashwood sister. They made her hide under library tables:
They made her a tomboy - climbing in trees, riding horses, whistling on grass, wading in mud and killing stabbing Edward during a game of fencing:
And sure, don't get me wrong, I loved the way they portrayed Margaret - it was really cute and she made many of the scenes funny and laughable. I loved the way they made the Edward-Margaret relationship (because, yes, this is not something Jane Austen made up, you know - nothing about Edward and Margaret in the book, you know!) and, in short, I love the Margaret in the movies.
But one of them should have stayed loyal to the book. Margaret was a young lady, romantic, cheeky, cheerful and ready for balls. Not a tomboy.
Did you like the way Margaret was portrayed in the movie?

1 comment:

  1. I love Margaret in the '95 movie! But then, I've never read the book, so I just like her because I like her. :-) Lucy Boynton did well too, but I still prefer the older one.



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