Jane Austen´s Clergymen

MrE1

There are clergymen in every novel written by Jane Austen. Find out more about them in this interesting article.

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Mr. Elton in Emma (2009)

Mr Mrs Elton 2009In 2009 we got a completely new take on Emma. In a two-part miniseries there was time to include more details from the novel. Three of the main characters are actually motherless – Emma, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. The story begins with flashbacks to their childhood, and we get to understand why Mr Woodhouse is so very, very careful. The acting is perhaps too modern, several reviews have problems with that. It´s more like 21c people in gorgeous countryhouses dressed up in regency costumes. Enough said on that matter.  The costumes are different from the nineties adaptations. Designer Rosalind Ebutt chose to work with deep colours, especially for the ladies. And at last there are more than black garments in Mr Elton´s wardrobe! Some nice soft grey coats, striped waistcoats, etc. Blake Ritson does a good job with Mr E. The comedy is there, and so is his darker side. Christina Cole as Mrs Elton is very elegant, but her performance is a bit pale, only because I can´t forget Juliet Stevenson!

For the Crown inn ball Mr E wears the elegant and correct formal wear of the 1810s. Black tail coat, pale yellow silk breeches, white stockings, pumps,  and white waistcoat. Very much like fashion plates from the era. We are getting closer to what I plan on wearing, I think.

blake ritson

Mr. Elton in the BBC Emma (1996)

Mr-and-Mrs-EltonThe same year we got Another Emma, created by Andrew Jackson and the team behind Pride and Prejudice in 1995. This is a darker story than McGrath´s version. There are many fans out there who prefer this, and I like it too. However Dominic Rowan´s Mr Elton is too sulky for my liking. Again he is dressed in black, this time by another award-winning designer, Jenny Beavan. Read more about her costumes here. Mr Knightley is so moody so I didn´t notice his costumes. Frank Churchill on the other hand is much better in this version and so are his costumes. Mr Elton´s outfits feel well researched and historically accurate. The ball scenes are very short so we don´t see much of Mr Elton´s finery. Mrs Elton is played by Lucy Robinson (Mrs Hurst in P & P. Liked her better there).

Sum up: Must take a look at the latest version of Emma!

Mr. Elton in the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma (1996)

cummin-eltonThe Scottish actor Alan Cumming played Mr Elton in the 1996 Emma, directed by Douglas McGrath. What a brilliant performance! All the nuances are there, from the elegant comical gentleman to the sleasy pompous social climber. I sincerely question his suitability as vicar. The proposal scene is a favourite and all the scenes with Juliet Stevenson as Mrs Elton are a delight. The costumes were designed by Ruth Meyers. Read more about them here. The other characters: Frank Churchill is awful and Mr Knightley is very handsome. But shockingly they wear boots but no gloves to the ball! Meyers chose to dress Mr E entirely in black, save the shirt and cravat. Very much like a man of the Church. Might as well be the same costume in every scene, so I´ll take a look at the other Emma from 1996.

To sum up: Top performance, Costume ok but I´ll find inspiration elsewhere.

Who is Mr Elton?

Costumes ParisiensMr Elton belongs to Highbury society. As a vicar and gentleman he is socializing with the prominent families: the Knightleys, the Bates´, the Westons, and the Woodhouses. At this time the clergy was a career opportunity to younger sons from the gentry or even the aristocracy. The eldest son would inherit the family fortune, estate, etc. Younger sons could join the army or the clergy. (Trade was still regarded as unsuitable an occupation for a gentleman.) Mr Elton has had his position but a few years, and we are informed that his family resides in London. (A mother and sisters are mentioned when he rides to town to have Emma´s drawing framed in Bond street.) This indicates, in my opinion, that Mr Elton orders his tail coats, waistcoats, boots, etc, in town. Even more so when he later in the story weds the formidable but annoying Miss Augusta Hawkins of Bristol.
“Mr. Elton’s situation was most suitable, quite the gentleman himself, and without low connexions (…) He had a comfortable home (…), and Emma imagined a very sufficient income; for though the vicarage of Highbury was not large, he was known to have some independent property; and she thought very highly of him as a good-humoured, well-meaning, respectable young man…”
Costume ParisienMr Knightley:
“Elton is a very good sort of man, and a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but not at all likely to make an imprudent match. He knows the value of a good income as well as any body. Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally. (…) He knows he is a very handsome young man, and a great favourite wherever he goes; and from his general way of talking in unreserved moments, where there are only men present, I am convinced that he does not mean to throw himself away. I have heard him speak with great animation of a large family of young ladies that his sisters are intimate with, who have all twenty thousand pounds apiece.”
Emma Woodhouse:
“That Mr. Elton should really be in love with me,–me of all people, who did not know him, to speak to him, at Michaelmas! And he, the very handsomest man that ever was, and a man that every body looks up to, quite like Mr. Knightley! His company so sought after, that every body says he need not eat a single meal by himself if he does not chuse it; that he has more invitations than there are days in the week. And so excellent in the Church!”
Well, I have a lot to live up to! But we also learn that Mr Elton is not altogether agreeable. He turns out to be sly and resentful. Remember when he snubs poor Harriet Smith at the ball? Some qualities for a vicar, ey?
Next post takes a closer look at the various screen versions of Mr E.

Netherfield has been let!

Dear reader,

Some weeks ago I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation. A certain Mr Bingley is giving a ball at his new place, Netherfield Park. I will attend the ball in the shape of Mr Philip Elton, vicar in the village of Highbury, in company of my beloved wife Mrs Elton. (She thinks the ball is to honour her recent arrival in the county.)

What is the suitable attire for such a splendid event? What is suitable for a gentleman like Mr Elton? This blog is about creating my version of the perfect regency gentleman´s outfit. Welcome!STOLTH~1