Becoming Jane, about Jane Austen’s young romance with a Mr. Lefroy that may have inspired her books, is another movie that we watched for improving SAT vocabulary and reading skills. It’s based on the book Becoming Jane Austen, by Jon Hunter.
Watching Becoming Jane to improve your SAT reading score
Real life and fiction in Becoming Jane
While it’s fun to recognize parts of the plot of this movie from Jane Austen’s books, it’s also interesting to know that her books were sometimes based on events in her own life. Just how much, though, we’ll never know. Her personal letters that weren’t destroyed were heavily censored by family members.
Like the eldest sister, Jane, in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen also had a suitor who she met when he came for a brief stay in the country. And also like Jane in the book, the suitor’s family did not approve of the relationship and had him leave. Maybe that’s why the sister in Pride and Prejudice gets the happy ending that Jane had hoped for.
In addition, in Becoming Jane, the parents seem to be based on Elizabeth’s parents in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen fan’s will recognize other scenes and characters.
Becoming Jane as an introductions to the books and time of Jane Austen
One of the benefits of adding this movie to a Jane Austen marathon is that it more clearly spells out the expectations of the time for a young woman, and the difficulties and realities of marriage and life for independent women. This can help with understanding Austen’s books and the movies based on the books.
Also, the characters still talk in the manner of Jane Austen’s novels and have a very extensive vocabulary. If you turn on subtitles it not only helps with understanding the English accents, but you get the benefit of reading some of the difficult and less familiar words as well.
What we thought of Becoming Jane
But Becoming Jane doesn’t have the typical Jane Austen happy ending. My teens were not happy with this. It wasn’t an awful ending, but definitely bittersweet. If your teen is having a hard time getting interested in the other movies and think they are too sicky sweet, this might be a good introduction to the genre.
Be aware that it’s also edgier than the typical Jane Austen movie. You see a married couple in bed and the naked backsides of two male characters when they go skinny dipping.
The girls had great fun seeing Professor Minerva McGonagall (from Harry Potter, Maggie Smith) play another witchy roll, Lefroy’s aunt Lady Gresham.
Before watching Becoming Jane
Before you watch Becoming Jane, read my tips on how watch movies to improve your SAT score.
I watched all of these movies with my teen girls in mind. However, sensitives vary. If you have any question about a movie, the reviews on Common Sense Media are an excellent resource.
After watching movie
To learn more about Jane Austen, read the book Becoming Jane Austen, by Jon Hunter.
More information and reviews for Becoming Jane
Becoming Jane (2007) – A Gorgeous Period Drama About Jane Austen – a full review
Wikipedia, Becoming Jane – for more on a discussion of which parts of this movie are known to be true of Jane Austen’s life and which parts are drawn from her books.
See Jane Elope – Why are we so obsessed with Jane Austen’s love life? By Deidre Lynch – A scholarly essay on the parallels between Jane Austen’s life, this movie, and her novels, and why we’re so fascinated with Jane Austen.
Melancholy idea – has one of the short quotes from Jane Austen’s letter on which the plot of this moved is based.