In the adaptations of these movies that we've been discussing, we have a wonderful array of actors. In the book, Charlotte is described as Elizabeth’s intimate friend and is said to be sensible and intelligent. Being twenty-seven, she is in danger of becoming an old maid -- some would say she already qualified for the monicker. At that time, this was a heavy burden for a woman from a relatively poor family. We might remember what Emma Woodhouse says on the subject to her new young friend, "Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! -- the proper sport of boys and girls -- but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else.”Charlotte is, by all accounts, plain. The book says this after her being engaged to Mr. Collins: "Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it."
She is a most likable character, and everyone that has taken up the role has had the advantage of playing someone most people already have a fondness for. I suppose anyone Lizzy likes is in a fair way of being liked by the audience. Because I like all these Charlottes, I will not attempt to pick a favorite, but rather offer some comments about each one.
1940 - Karen Morley You have to love her. When Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Lucas are talking about Bingley as they and their daughters are shopping for material for dresses for the upcoming assembly ball and someone says Bingley may fall in love with Charlotte, she returns this comment: “Not if he sees Jane or Lizzy first.” I know that comment isn’t in the book, but most of what is in this movie isn’t, such as one evening at Rosings when she takes the wine glass away from her husband. But as I have said a number times on the blog, this is my favorite P&P and Karen Morley is wonderful.
1980 - Irene Richard If the rest of the cast was as capable as Irene, this would easily be my favorite P&P. It has more scenes from the book than any other, and it has those scenes that make you love the story. One that comes to mind is when all the girls are talking about the Meryton ball and Charlotte comes to Darcy’s defense by saying that ‘with everything Darcy has going for him he has a reason to be proud,’ which leads Lizzy to say one of the great lines of the book: “I could easily forgive his pride had he not mortified mine.”
1995 - Lucy Scott You might notice she smiles very little, and her approach to this part is undoubtedly one of the main reason she works so well in it. This obviously helps her to achieve that look of an intelligent person who would rationally determine to have Mr. Collins after Lizzy’s refusal rather than hope for love to come her way. As she says, “I am not romantic, you know; I never was.” Well, Lucy Scott plays her role perfectly.
2004 - Sonali Kulkarni as Chandra Lamba (B&P equivalent to Charlotte Lucas) Sonali is without doubt the prettiest girl to do this part. That being the case, one might be tempted to find fault with it, but her conversations with Lalita show just how close the two friends were. The song they sing when going into town with a mutual friend who is getting married is one of the highlights of this version. Also, the conversation she has with Lalita after she marries Mr. Kohli is lovely. She tells her, “I know he wasn’t right for you, but I love it here (meaning California), and he adores me.” Spoken with that fabulous accent, it is a terrific scene. And then to have Lalita say, “Perhaps I was too quick to judge him.” ...what a perfect way to end that scene between these two longtime friends. It’s ridiculous, though, that you can’t find a good picture of her from this movie anywhere.
Sorry, the 1940 picture of Karen Morley will not stay visible and no other can be found. The pictures below are in this order: 1980, 1995, 2005, and Bride & Prejudice.
Note: I apologize for the uneven formatting... blogger was acting up today! ~ cindy