Austen Awards: Heroines

FINALLLY the Austen Awards comes to an end, and I'm betting you're just as ready for this series to conclude as much as I am. I've saved the most important category for last. The category that is vital to each adaptation: the heroine. Once again, vote for your favorites of each iteration and check out the personality quiz at the bottom of the page.


The Character: The lower class girl taken in by relatives, only to be reminded of her inferiority constantly in Mansfield Park. Fanny is quiet observer of all the things going on in the household.

Best Version:
As I mentioned in the hunks post for Edmund Bertram, this is a difficult choice because I'm not a huge fan of this character or either of its portrayals. Frances O'Connor is fine, but is she a good version of Fanny? Is she miswritten? Billie Piper is also fine, but is she miscast? The answer to all of these questions is probably. So there's no one in this category I can really sing praises of. 

Worst Version:
See previous. I'm only placing Frances O'Connor here because it seems like she's more assertive than she's supposed to be.

Worth Mentioning: That's all!

Which Fanny Price do you prefer?

Billie Piper (Mansfield Park 2007)
Frances O'Connor (Mansfield Park 1999)
Please Specify:
Poll Maker


The Character: A lover of reading any book she can possibly get her hands on, and subsequently develops a wild imagination in Northanger Abbey. Catherine earnestly tries to be good and see the best in people, but is naive to many truths of the world.

Only version with talking about:

Felicity Jones is utterly adorable and delightful as Catherine Morland. She's beautiful, sweet, and incredibly sincere. She comes off as very young, but wanting to better herself in any way she can...unless she gets distracted by her imagination.

Is Felicity Jones the perfect Catherine Morland?

Please Specify:
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The Character: A woman filled with regret for being talked out of marrying the love of her life years ago, then thrown together again in Persuasion. Anne quietly suffers and keeps all her pain below the surface where no one can see. 

Best Version:
Sally Hawkins gives an incredible performance as Anne Elliot in the 2007 version. So much of her feelings are beneath the surface, but Sally is able to portray them with just the smallest nuances in her face. She brought the character to life for me!

Worst Version:
It seems to me that Amanda Root only knows how to make her eyes bigger to show that she's feeling anything. I'm not a fan of her portrayal at all.

Worth Mentioning: That's it!

Which Anne Elliot do you prefer?

Amanda Root (Persuasion 1995)
Sally Hawkins (Persuasion 2007)
Please Specify:
personality test


The Character: The passionate and romantic Dashwood sister in Sense & Sensibility. She feels things deeply and always lets those feelings be known. 
Best Version:
Kate Winslet is SO PERFECT in this role. She creates this poetic soul who only accepts life a certain way, and has to learn things the hard way because of it. Her performance contrasted with Emma Thompson's is just superb.

Worst Version:
I'm wondering if Marla Sokoloff has ever even seen or read Sense & Sensibility because the character she played was NOTHING like Marianne. She was incredibly even tempered for a girl who is supposed to be passionate and dramatic. Alexa Vega too was very cringeworthy...but at least her character somewhat resembled Marianne.

Worth Mentioning: Charity Wakefield gave a similar performance in being passionate in the 2008 version...but sorry girl, you're never gonna compare to Kate Winslet.

Which Marianne Dashwood is your favorite?

Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Marla Sokoloff (Scents and Sensibility)
Alexa Vega (From Prada to Nada)
Please Specify:
Poll Maker


The Character: The daughter of a rich upper-class man who has spoiled her throughout her entire life in Emma. Emma means well, but constantly meddles in the life of her friends, thinking she can improve their lives. 

Best Version:
It's a tossup between Gwyneth Paltrow and Alicia Silverstone, but I'm giving the edge to Gwyneth for the elegance and class she brought to Emma. She perfectly portrays the snobbery Emma has coming from the upper class and being spoiled all her life, yet you can't help but like her. 

Worst Version
I'm gonna get killed for this. I know a lot of Austen aficionados love her, but I really didn't care for Romola Garai as Emma. She is beautiful and often elegant in other roles, but somehow she played this character too goofy for me. I also felt Kate Beckinsale didn't fit my vision of Emma, but I couldn't find any gifs for her!

Worth Mentioning: Alicia Stone is so great in Clueless. She's incredibly funny and a great modern lead. I also really liked Joanna Sotomura in Emma Approved, though with a much longer runtime, it was easier for her to occasionally get on your nerves. But usually I thought she was hilarious and sweet....and incredibly stylish.

Which Emma is your favorite?

Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma 1996)
Alicia Silverstone (Clueless)
Joanna Sotomura (Emma Approved)
Romola Garai (Emma 2009)
Kate Beckinsale (Emma 1997)
Please Specify:
Poll Maker


The Character: The even-tempered Dashwood sister who suffers her pain in private in Sense & Sensibility. She is reasonable and rational. She doesn't make decisions based on her heart, but rather what she believes is the most sensible. 

Best Version:
I just love Emma Thompson's Elinor Dashwood. She just exudes this inner strength that is threatened only when her sister is in danger. She is stable and serene and everything that an Elinor ought to be. 

Worst Version
Ashley William's isn't as bad as Marla Sokoloff in Scents and Sensibility, but when your Marianne is so even tempered, any type of reaction Elinor has seems really out of character because she seems more emotional than Marianne. Really she's not SO bad...but together neither of them really resemble their counterparts. 

Worth Mentioning: Hattie Morahan pleases a lot of Janeites because she's more age appropriate. I probably remember her performance the most from the 2008 version and thought she was pretty solid, but Emma Thompson just wins it for me. 

Which Elinor Dashwood is your favorite?

Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Hattie Morahan (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Ashley Williams (Scents and Sensibility)
Camilla Belle (From Prada to Nada)
Please Specify:


The Character: The vivacious and intelligent woman who unknowingly captures the attention of a man she utterly dislikes in Pride & Prejudice
Best Version:
I now have two favorite Elizabeths. I have my favorite straight adaptation version (Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice '05,) and then I have my favorite action hero version (Lily James in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.) Keira is beautiful, quick and witty...but above all, she's playful. She isn't trying to be coldly rude all the time, rather she just likes to tease. She certainly dislikes Mr. Darcy, but she knows how to be civil enough and prefers to challenge him intellectually through bantering. Lily James played it similarly, but threw in a few more personal digs and....kicks and punches. 

But take out the zombies and you'd still get a really awesome Elizabeth Bennet from Lily's performance! 
Worst Version
Anna Maxwell Martin is SO miscast in Death Comes to Pemberley. Not only is she too plain to be the beautiful Elizabeth described as having "fine eyes," but she's also too drab and boring personality wise as well! I don't know what these guys were thinking. Also among my least favorites is Aishwarya Rai's bratty take in Bride & Prejudice. She's certainly incredibly beautiful, but her beauty doesn't make up for how rude she is to her Darcy. I also feel similarly about Jennifer Ehle to be honest, but at this point, I'm not gonna rant too much. I'll just say I'd prefer more smiles and less death eyed glares. Also a least favorite HAS to be Gemma Arterton in Lost in Austen. She's very beautiful and visually looks like she'd be a good Elizabeth, but talks too sing-songy and worse, is written TERRIBLY. [SPOILERS highlight to read] What kind of Elizabeth would know her fate with Darcy and know he's the love of her life, but NOT be curious in truly pursuing that? Is she taking crazy pills? And what does she prefer to it? A nanny job in modern London? I don't think so. [/end spoilers.]

Worth Mentioning: Ashley Clements at times can be a perfectly wonderful modern Lizzie. Unfortunately, since she's the character who is the source of the story, sometimes the viewer has to suffer from A LOT of her complaining. And it gets old. But she really makes up for it in the end. Kam Heskin is an okay Elizabeth in P&P: A Latter-Day comedy, but doesn't really fit the way I see the character. 

Which Elizabeth Bennet is your favorite?

Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice 2005)
Lily James (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies)
Ashley Clements (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice 1995)
Gemma Arterton (Lost in Austen)
Kam Heskin (Latter-Day Comedy)
Aishwarya Rai (Bride & Prejudice)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Death Comes to Pemberley)
Greer Garson
Please Specify:

personality test

HONORARY HEROINES: Jane Erstwhile/Hayes is an obsessive Janeite but a fun modern heroine, Each of the Jane Austen book club members possess traits similar to those found in Austen's novels. Whereas Amanda Price couldn't be any more different than any of Austen's ladies, rather the comedy comes from how much she doesn't fit in.


Sarah said...

Apparently, according to your quiz, I am Catherine Morland. :) I think I'm really a Marianne in real life...though I guess I aspire to be like a mix of Elinor and Elizabeth Bennet. :)

Sarah said...

By the way, I agree with what you said about Frances O'Connor. I actually like that version pretty well...probably because it has taken many liberties with the book. It is my least favorite of Jane Austen's books because Fanny is such a shrinking violet. I guess she was hoping to write a character who had a "quiet strength," but instead, she comes off as being a pushover...less than assertive, for sure. Also, rather than strong, she sometimes comes off as being preachy.

I think that's why I liked Frances O'Connor's portrayal...she is much stronger than Fanny is in the book and I liked her character better because of it. Kind of like how I prefer the movie ending for The Count of Monte Cristo to the book ending.

As for Persuasion, I actually think the 90's version is very well done. However, my bone to pick with it is that Anne Elliot is supposed to have been 19 years old when she turned away the love of her life due to the persuasion of others. So, that means that she is 26 when the entire plot of the movie takes place. However, the actress who plays Anne Elliot was 32 and the actor who played Captain Wentworth was 42. They were too old to play those parts, and had the actors been the right ages, I think it would have been more successful.

Sarah said...

One more comment and then I will stop. I watched a fast forwarded, selected scenes version of Death Comes to Pemberley, and I agree that the actress they chose for Elizabeth was woefully miscast. Lydia and Georgiana were breathtaking and Elizabeth (who is supposed to be quite lovely) paled in comparison. Let's just say that it looked like the last 10 years of marriage to Darcy must have been rough and taken their toll on her...

I thought that Darcy (in Death Comes to Pemberley) was actually pretty good though. He fit my vision of an older version of Mr. Darcy. I must say that I could have done without the PG rated make-up sex scene between Darcy and Elizabeth though. Ha ha! I'm not saying I would have wanted a more mature rating...just that I could have done without seeing that at all!