Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Emma Minus Its Narrator: Decorum and Class Consciousness in Film Versions of the Novel

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1999


It is in such marked departures from the novels that we can detect filmmakers struggling with the differences in the two media—and in particular, with the lack of a narrator—and can determine as well how mindful they are of a modern audience's need to be educated in terms of the social customs and class values of Austen's time. My goal is not to critique the film versions so much as to learn more about Austen's narrative technique from a comparison of the novels with their film versions. Although I will begin with a few key scenes from adaptations of other Austen novels, my primary focus will be upon Emma and three film versions of that novel: the 1972 Constanduros-Glenister BBC production; the 1996 Davies-Lawrence Meridian and A&E version starring Kate Beckinsale; and the 1996 McGrath Miramax Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow.