Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wives and Daughters, Film Version, Part 4

To listen online, go to this free link

Credits for these pictures go to this site

It is time to finish the Wives and Daughter's review. At this point I would also like to mention that the men in our family adore the video series and appreciate it almost more than the women. At present there are 6 males and 3 females here that watch it, and I can safely say the men never fail to stop and watch when we are viewing it, and comment on how brilliantly the story was created and how perfectly it was put together on film; how carefully the actors were chosen and how well they perform their roles!

So far, Molly has adjusted to many changes in her otherwise placid life: the illness and death of Osbourne, Roger's brother, and the appearance of his wife and child at Hamley Hall. Roger has been ill during his stay in Africa, which deeply troubles Molly. Cynthia, ever on the look-out for new admirers, has had yet another proposal, from Mr. Henderson, whom she met when she went on the trip with her mother to visit relatives.

"It wouldn't hurt to be a little more forthcoming," advises Molly's stepmother, Hyacinth. "It certainly didn't do Cynthia any harm."

"I'll try and talk about something more agreeable....old Margery at the lodge is dead!"

When Roger arrives home from Africa, "brown as a berry and sporting a fine growth of a beard," his father says to him, "Neither one of you settled your fancies on little Molly Gibson. Now there's a lass that has found a way to my heart!" "Molly's like a sister to me," claims Roger.

Roger and his father embrace, both desperately grieved over the death of Osbourne. Osbourne's widow and child look on.

"What lovely flowers!" exclaims Molly. They were sent by Roger, who is back from Africa.

I wish there had been a longer view of this bouquet. It looked like some of the old paintings.

At the dinner honoring Roger, Molly says, "Papa said you had a beard!"

"My father told me you were like a true daughter to him when Mamma died."

Osbourne's widow and Molly stroll on the grounds at Hamley Hall. She tells Aimee that she and Roger are "like brother and sister." "No," replies the French woman. "I don't think so."

The Squire, Roger's widowed father urges him to "try again" and ask Molly to accept him. He insists that eventually Molly will say "yes."

Roger still intends to go back to Africa, after the funeral of his brother. Mr. Gibson says, "Give me a man of science in love: no one to beat him for folly." (You might be smart in science, kiddo, but you have no clue about love!) Mr. Gibson may have been wondering why, at this time when Roger finally admits he loves his daughter, he chooses to leave on a trip.

Roger asks Molly's father if he thinks Molly could bring herself to accept him. "I don't know," said Dr. Gibson. "Women are queer creatures, and just as likely to accept a man who has been throwing his affections away, but if she can stomach you, so can I."

Roger proposes to Molly in the rain. "I couldn't go," he said, and then, "Molly, dearest Molly! Will you be my wife?"
"Yes. Yes, I will!" Roger can't believe he heard right. "I've been such a fool!" he confesses.

"I can't come any closer. I promised your father."

Mrs. Goodenough comments that she expected Molly to dress a bit grander since she became mistress of Hamley Hall. Phoebe Browning replies, "Our Molly looks good in anything she wears," and then goes on to say she always knew Roger loved Molly. "He gave her a wasps nest once for a present, and you don't do that for just anyone!"

Lord Cumner congratulates Roger on his marriage to Molly.

Hyacinth reflects on Cynthia's good fortune in marriage, but says, "Riches are a great snare, you know." Dr. Gibson replies wryly, "Be thankful you were spared temptation."

Just married, Molly accompanies Roger to Africa, a country he is fascinated with. I found all the scenes just wonderful, but this one made me question whether or not that outfit would have been worn during Elizabeth's Gaskell's time.

Even on safari, women wore special travelling clothes, that may have included the split skirt. This looks like a pair of women's riding breeches on Molly, and I'm not prepared to say whether or not that is historically accurate. I am sure there are real photographs of the times and the places of the adventurous Victorians, which reveal the kinds of clothes women wore to places like Africa.


Laura Ashley said...


Happy St. Patrick's Day! I had some time today, so I thought I'd look for pictures of Victorian women in Africa. I found this site of Victorian Nurses in Africa. It has drawings and photos. Scroll all the way down to see all of them.


Lydia said...

Laura, thanks for the site. The picture of the woman in riding breeches at the end is dated 1917. The time period of Wives and Daughters would have been prior to 1865. I'm trying to determine if women wore the riding breeches when they went on safari or exploration to Africa or South America. I believe there might have been a special costume sewn for the event, which consisted of fabric closer to the form; not so fluffy as it would catch on things and impair their movement. Such a garment might have been closer to the split skirt or walking skirt. Even Lady Harriot on horseback or outings wore a skirt. So I wonder if this was really a stretch by the writers of this film. I must say I and lots of other women were rather disappointed in the costume of this last scene.

Lydia said...

It would have been near the same time period as the Civil War Era in the US. I don't see any evidence of even sports clothing being riding breeches. Women had walking clothes and riding clothes but I have never seen any drawings or pictures of pants worn in public at that time. They did wear pants, (pantaloons, as they were called) under their skirts.

Lydia said...

Just a note - I plan to divide the homemaking list into continents and countries so that women can find friends in their own countries. Please, when you send me you link, tell me what country you are in if it is not the US. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's highly unlikely that riding breeches would have been worn, even in Africa, in the era you mention. Nor would a lady have been in the situation pictured without a hat or some kind of protection from the sun. This looks like an enormous but typical liberty taken by the filmmakers.

At that time period, if a woman of Molly's social status rode, she wore a riding habit, which didn't even include a split skirt. Ladies did not ride astride, period.

There was an attempt to reform the cumbersome women's clothing of the mid-1800's on the part of Amelia Jenks Bloomer, who invented a costume consisting of Turkish style pants under a mid-calf length skirt. This was supposed to give women freedom from the hoopskirts of the day to engage in more active pursuits, like horseback riding. The costume was considered very shocking, and was a fashion failure, as women refused to adopt it. This was the derivation of the name "bloomer" for loose pants worn as underwear.

Pantaloons didn't turn up in women's fashion until the hoopskirt replaced multiple crinoline petticoats, making women's clothing far more lightweight than it was in the early 1800's. Hoops also freed the legs from the layers of crinoline, making wider and more elaborate skirt styles possible. At the time Wives and Daughters was written, ladies' fashion was at it's most extreme for wide hoop skirts, and was followed by a shift toward a more ovoid shape of skirt with the bulk of the volume moving backward, a trend which eventually resulted in the bustle.

Photos and drawings of missionaries to Africa at this time period show the women dressed as they would have been in England or America, though they were dressed more for practicality, not as fashion plates. There was a famous African explorer whose wife accompanied him around this era, and the drawings I've seen of her show her in a simplified but still feminine attire in keeping with the fashions of the period. At the moment I can't lay hands on the book that has her story, but when my husband wakes up, I'll have him look it out and get back to you with that information.

The temptation to take liberties with costume in period films is apparently very large for filmmakers, particularly if they see a woman as having been "liberated" by some event. Suddenly that character will turn up in very atypical clothing, to show how she is now "free", even if it's an absurdity of putting a lady in 1865 in riding breeches with her sleeves rolled up and no hat!

Lydia said...

I did suspect this costume in the last scene of the story was not accurate. I have photographs of my relatives in that era and there doesn't seem to be any pants worn on the outside at all. Yes, the clothing of the pioneer women sitting in front of their log cabins was more slender, without the petticoats, and it hugged closer to the body. One can understand the necessity of that for the active, hard working women of the time. That last scene was so disappointing, and the huge poets shirt Molly was wearing was certainly not in keeping her sedate style during the previous parts of the story.

Helen said...

Hi Lydia

Where oh where can I buy this series? Is it on US tv? We'd love to have this... BTW - do you have an email address where I can write to you regarding Guard the Home? I tried to get through via the one printed on LAF, to no avail.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this lovely little series about a series. :) I love a lot of the lines you mention, especially the one about the wasp's nest. That was classic. I also chuckled at the part when Cynthia, surprisingly, shows more knowledge about something than Molly. She said something like, "If you will not let me call him changeable, let me call him...consolable."

I also like the fact that Roger and Molly kept a discreet distance during the propsal scene. It's so refreshing not to have to endure watching unmarried actors kiss.

Does anybody know why poor Lady Harriet's gorgeous hair was cut short part way through the series? It was so jarring and distracting.

I agree that they made a historical blooper with putting Molly in pants in the last scene. Why do it, anyway? I live a hot, dry climate myself, and I do fine in skirts.

-Christine from Arizona

Shan said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

I am so thankful for your posts on this series. I have gone to our library and found that they only have two copies and their are 22 "holds"! I then went on-line thinking perhaps it wouldn't be too expensive, but it was around $35.00 which I felt was more than I wanted to spend since I have not watched this for myself....arrgghhh.

Wouldn't you know, my sweet son heard me and quietly ordered the DVD's through his Netflix account. He told me about it this week and I can tell you I was on cloud nine! I can't wait to see this series and I am sure I will love it.

Thank you again,
Honey Hill Farm

Lydia said...

This is one you might want to own.

Lydia said...

I quite like Mrs.Gibsons purple wrap in the first picture I posted on this article. Any idea where one might get a pattern for that?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "the pants" I had the same reaction when first viewing the series. The question was debated on the Republic of Pemberley messageboard (a Jan Austen fansite) where I recall the consensus being that Molly would not have worn them. (And hatless!!)
I was discussing the question with my mother tonight and aside from the modesty issue, we came to think Molly likely wouldn't have been in Africa at all!
Here are 3 reason I say that:

a) she has recently suffered a collapse of her health.

b) Travel was an uncertain prospect and

c) young married women have a tendency to get pregnant, not a good idea in a very dangerous place.

I think Dr. Gibson would have been flatly against the idea, as protective as he was of his only child.
I don't believe Roger would have been likely to risk her life by taking her with him.

What do you think?


Lydia said...

The ending was so inconsistent with the rest of the story, largely because it had to be made up by someone. Mrs. Gaskell died before she finished this novel. They did her justice, however, by making it a happy ending, and that is the point. She preferred happy endings. I don't know enough about the era to be able to judge whether or not she went to Africa, but in Jane Austen's "Persuasion" Mrs. Croft travelled by ship with her husband, the captain, so it is possible that women did go to these places, even after they married. The final scene of Persuasion shows Anne, just married, with Captain Wentworth, writing in the ship's log and then looking from the ship out to sea.

If Molly did go with Roger to Africa, I still doubt she would have worn that outfit shown in the final scene. I would have put her a costume similar to that worn by Deborah Kerr who costarred with Stuart Granger in the original "King Solomon's mines."

My husband says to say that to avoid controversy, some of my friends are for it, and some of my friends are against it and so I'll just stick with my friends.

Lydia said...

As in everything, parents should preview this set of films before sharing it with young children. As good as the story in the book is, each person has to be discerning about the film.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
Thank you for once again introducing us (me) to another wonderful story and its adaptation.
I so wish to purchase this on DVD; however, I am having no success in locating it. Would you know of a source that carries Wives & Daughters at a reasonable price?
Lynne in NC

Anonymous said...

The movie is delightful!The pictures are well done! I loved your little mini-series on the tv version. However, the book is absolutly wonderful too. I hope your readers will be encouraged to actually pick it up. The inner thoughts of Molly and Roger are beautiful entwined and you miss alot of it in the movie. Although the book is extremely long it is well worth the read! I believe if the author had actually finished the last chapter before she died the story would be considered better than Pride and Prejudice.

Lydia said...

go here for the list of W and D's available

just paste this in your browser

Anonymous said...

I have so enjoyed these posts and am currently looking for the film to watch from the library.

It sparked a memory and I did discover that I had a back issue from Storybook Home (which you once posted about) that was devoted to this story. It is beautifully done and would be worth getting.

celeste said...

I'm not sure if I commented already because I recieved an error message. So anyway, I just wanted to say that I also love this movie. It is one of my favorites. My sister got it for me for my birthday. It is available at Deep Discount for slightly les than

Ethridge Family said...

I want to thank you so much. I've never read the book, never even heard of the story. Read through your posts and then immediately netflixed the movie. It was WONDERFUL! I absolutely loved it! Thank you!! Now I think I might have to buy it!