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Lydia Bennet and adaptations

Here’s the thing. Even when the author of the source content is involved, every adaptation is going to be different from the canon material. This is even more the case when the author is not involved.

Take Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, for example. For those who do not know, Rhys wrote this work from the point of view of Mr. Rochester’s wife in Jane Eyre¬†from her childhood to that faithful night in the original novel when she sets the fire. However, where we were led to believe that Rochester was this tragic man who just needed to be loved or some such (so I assume, having never actually read Jane Eyre as of this post) Rhys’ version paints a different picture and gives us the image of a woman whose life is plagued by tragedy and whose mind is broken as a result.

The Lydia/Wickham story arc and Lydia’s vlogs on the whole, holds a similar purpose. In the original novel, though the narrator’s POV is in the third person omniscient, we are very rarely given a view into the lives of characters other than Elizabeth. Even then, it is only her parents and Darcy and these are few and far between, meant to supplement the narrative of Lizzie’s story rather than add to the general narrative. Thus, what we know of Lydia would generally reflect what her sister sees. This makes for an unlikeable character who we rarely see interacting with our main character.

However, given that both temporal and familial contexts have been changed in the modern, trans-media adaptation of Pride and Prejudice to reflect changes in society and technology, we tend to know more about our secondary characters than just what Lizzie tells us. They have a twitter account; some even have tumblrs and YouTube accounts. In essence, we are more immersed in their lives through this adaptation than any other. Therefore, it only makes sense that Lydia would have these videos, given that she does enjoy having an internet presence.

That being said, the narrative is not only impacted by how much of their lives that we see now as opposed to in the novel. There is also the matter of character interaction.

In the LBD Lydia and Lizzie interact more. In fact, we bear witness to this very fact. How often has Lydia been in one of Lizzie’s videos pre-fallout? As often as Jane or Charlotte, to be honest. Lydia herself only starts the vlog after she is no longer able to be in Lizzie’s videos and stops as soon as Lizzie is back home. This is proven by the mere fact that the first set of videos were filmed when Lizzie was at Netherfield and Lydia was at Mary’s. The videos after that took place, again, when Lizzie was away from home (this time visiting Charlotte) and then when Lydia was in Vegas leading up to when Lizzie leaves for San Francisco.

To say that they were not necessary, as far as the latest arc goes, to the overall plotline is a fallacy. Were the writers to suddenly leave out those videos would render the production tarnished by inconsistency, even more so given that we know that Wickham’s character, even in the novel, is one that demands the attention of those around him and so too is, to a certain extent, Lydia’s.

I’m not saying that the arc was handled perfectly. There were times that it was a bit heavy handed in term’s of Wickham’s character, thus rendering the parts less so to appear weaker. However, it is a credit to Rachel Kiley, the writer who handles Lydia’s storylines, Mary Kate Wiles and Wes Aderhold that despite this flaw the storyline still serves to build suspense.

As pointed out here just watching Lizzie’s videos are not going to give the whole story and it leads to false judgements about Lydia’s character based on who she was before the blowout, not who she is now. In fact, it is a downright hypocritical statement given that this fandom clamours almost daily for videos from Darcy and Gigi (the latter of which is now being delivered) and who follow the other characters’ twitters voraciously.

In addition to this, as pointed out here, there is a difference between surprise and suspense in drama, both literary and theatrical. What the original poster refers to is basically this: surprise is when both you and the characters don’t know that something’s coming until it happens. In essence, the novel’s version of events where it was never even seen that Lydia would run off with Wickham (some may argue that it was foreshadowed, what with him being in the regiment that relocated to Brighton, but previously Lydia never distinguished him from the other officers whom she knew by name and flirted with). Suspense, however, is you, the audience, knowing that it will happen though the characters do not. Here, it is us knowing that Wickham’s involvement with Lydia would yield something that would inevitably interrupt the Pemberley arc.

The difference here is audience involvement (in fact, suspense goes by another name in the literary genre: dramatic irony) and it is a point of adaptations that, unless the creators of said adaptation change the source material to accommodate their own twists, suspense is more common than surprise. Also, given that Pride and Prejudice has been in publication for over two hundred years, it is a fact that there is no major surprise involved for the audience, only a building of suspense, which is what Lydia’s video’s are supposed to do.

The arc is not perfect and it will never be perfect. While I will never say that this particular subject matter is too sensitive for stories to be told, I will concede that it is difficult to handle well. However, it is a discredit to the work of the writers, Mary Kate and Wes to say it is unnecessary. Given the macro-context of the entire production and the details involved with the micro-context, Lydia’s story needs to be told if her character is to be given a fair chance. Mary Kate, Wes, Rachel and the rest of the LBD crew have done a fine job of this and it is to their credit that this part of the LBD verse is as successful in its purpose as it is.

If you have something to criticise, go ahead. That is what fandom is for and the results of putting your work out there. However, this fandom, like all fandoms, needs to to think before it speaks because this arc? It explains much more than you would think about Lydia Bennet in the LBD verse.

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  1. ofsevenseas reblogged this from glamaphonic
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  8. tardis-chick reblogged this from literatureintheart and added:
    Really good post about the general idea of the Lydia arc of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
  9. osterozhna reblogged this from marykatewiles and added:
    Personally? I think that Lydia Bennet was the most elegantly adapted character in LBD. Her arc is the one that I am most...
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  12. gcsilmoldor reblogged this from literatureintheart and added:
    I agree, I really like how we see more of Lydia in this adaptation. I’ve never liked her as much as a character as I...
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