The outlook on the status of women in society has drastically changed from the early nineteenth century to the 21st century. This becomes evident when we examine Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary, which is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The reception to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice differed greatly to the reception of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones Diary. Its also interesting to note how Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion followed the same attitudes as Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones Diary.
In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice we witness that the genteel Elizabeth is able to be happy by refusing to marry for financial purposes and only marrying a man for whom she truly loves and esteems. This ideology was completely the opposite of the views of women by society in the 1900's. Women at that time were portrayed as inferior to men and marriage was the only path for women to achieve financial security.
Jane Austen also attacks and criticises society's view on the importance of marriage for financial purposes. This is seen in the story by the relationship between Mr and Mrs Bennett, who are wealthy but an absolutely incompatible couple and they show no affection for each other what so ever. Its obvious that the nineteenth century society would have been outraged and disgusted by Jane Austen's views and outlook, as they were totally contradictory to the attitudes of society back then.
In Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget Jones is a single and independent middle aged woman living in a flat. Bridget Jones is overweight, smokes and drinks. However she makes a resolution to control all those factors and to find the perfect man, her "prince charming"Ã¯Â¿Â½. She stands up to her boss, Daniel Cleaver who cheated on her and in the end forms a relationship with Darcy even though she keeps her bad habits. Bridget Jones' Diary accurately reflects the current 21st century viewpoint of women by society. Women are being expected and expect to have successful independent lives, while at the same time finding that perfect guy. Women are becoming more equal in society and have the power to stand up for themselves. Bridget Jones' diary makes Jane Austen's original themes in pride and prejudice more relatable and associable to the 21st century audience.
The themes in Pygmalion are similar to the ideas of Bridget Jones' Diary. In Pygmalion we see that although Eliza's use of language has changed, her character hasn't and it is what Freddy most admires about Eliza. In Bridget Jones' Diary we see Darcy falling in love with the overweight Bridget because of her character. This shows that Pygmalion and Bridget Jones Diary both follow the view that it's the character in a person that counts.
The ideas expressed in Pygmalion also link to the ideas in Pride and Prejudice. In Pygmalion Eliza is seen to refuse her hand in marriage to Higgins because he treats her like an experiment, even though he is very wealthy. Similarly, in pride and prejudice Elizabeth puts love and affection before money when it comes to marriage. This reveals that both Bernard Shaw and Jane Austen have strong beliefs that marriage should be based on love.
It is interesting to note that Helen Fielding's use of images and language in Bridget Jones' Diary reflects the views and attitudes of modern day women.
In Bridget Jones' diary Bridget Jones is given the image of an alcoholic, overweight single middle aged woman who smokes. This is an accurate reflection on today's single middle aged women who indulge in the things that make them feel undesirable to overcome the depression of feeling undesirable.
The image of Bridget and Darcy kissing at the end of movie suggests that Bridget has finally found her true love, her "prince charming"Ã¯Â¿Â½. Almost all women in society have the belief that someday they will meet their "prince charming"Ã¯Â¿Â½ and live happily ever after. So in other words it could be said that the image of Darcy and Bridget kissing is the image that nearly all women in society wish to be apart of.
Bridget Jones' can be seen using some very obscene language. Her vocabulary of words includes misogynists, emotional fuckwits and freeloaders. This use of obscenity by Bridget Jones scraps the traditional view of a genteel lady and represents the more modern outlook that a woman swearing is nothing out of the ordinary.
It is apparent in Bridget Jones' diary that phrases such as "Do you love me?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ and "Prince Charming"Ã¯Â¿Â½ was used by Bridget, which represents a more sentimental side of her. This is contradictory to her nasty side, which results in the use of foul language, as mentioned before. These two-faces of Bridget Jones accurately reflect the two sides of a woman in today's society. Women have become more accustomed to use obscene language, which makes them seem rather discourteous and impertinent yet they still use phrases such as "prince charming"Ã¯Â¿Â½ and like to ask the question " Do you love me?"Ã¯Â¿Â½. This shows the more sentimental side of women, as they still hope and long for that perfect man.