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Bridget Jones’s Diary

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Bridget Jones’s Diary, written by Helen Fielding, is about Bridget Jones, a thirty-something ‘spinster’ who struggles to find exactly what she wants in life. Fielding’s text, famous for being the beginning of the chick-lit genre, deals with the contrast between the contemporary career woman and the traditional house-wife. Ultimately Bridget Jones’s Diary suggests that no woman is restricted by the era that they were born into. The film adaptation of the same name, made in 2001 and directed by Sharon Maguire, is a worthwhile adaptation, as it stayed closely to the main issues and themes of the book, while changing it in order to make a better viewing presentation.

Both Fielding’s book and Maguire’s movie Bridget Jones’s Diary present a main issue of the story, that women long to escape the ‘ideal’ of a woman for their era. This is evident in relation to both Bridget and her mother Pam. Bridget, who was brought up in the feminist time, believing that a woman needs a career, not a man, really wants to break away from that type of lifestyle and become the ‘traditional’ wife. “Wonder where everybody is? I suppose they are all with their boyfriends or have gone home to their families. Anyway, chance to get things done…or they have families of own. Babies. Tiny fluffy children in pyjamas with pink cheeks looking at the Christmas tree excitedly.” (pg297). She also tries to cook to impress her friends, and although she fails, it shows that she wants the ultimate characteristic of a wife. “Well done Bridge, 4 hours of careful cooking and a feast of blue soup, omelette and marmalade.” (film). Bridget really wants a family, not a career.

Bridget’s mother Pam, on the other hand, was brought up to believe in the traditional role of the woman, a house-wife who takes care of her husband, the children, and the household, but wants a more modern role, and wants a career. “‘I want a career,’ she [Pam] said. And some horrible mean part of me felt happy because I had a career. Well- a job anyway. I was a grasshopper collecting a big pile of grass, or flies, or whatever it is grasshoppers eat ready for the winter, even if I didn’t have a boyfriend.” (pg71). Pam and Bridget each have the ‘ideal’ woman for their respective times, but want what the other has; Bridget wants a family, and a husband, like her mother has, and Pam wants a career, and to have ‘freer’ relationships, like Bridget has. This shows that Bridget, although born into the feminist age, doesn’t have to be a modern woman, and, in fact, that all women can aspire to be whatever they want.

Made obvious from the title, Bridget Jones’s Diary is written if diary form. “9 st (excellent), alcohol units 0, cigarettes 29 (v.v. bad, esp. in 2 hours), calories 3879 (repulsive), negative thoughts 942 (approx. based on av. per minute), minutes spent counting negative thoughts 127 (approx.).” (pg30). It is written in first person, and uses rather informal language, which is typical for any diary. “I seriously think I am pregnant. How could we have been so stupid? Daniel and I were so carried away with euphoria at being back together again that reality seemed to go out of the window-and once you’ve… oh look, I don’t want to talk about it.

This morning I definitely felt the beginnings of morning sickness, but that could be because I was so hung-over after Daniel finally left yesterday that I ate the following to make myself feel better:” (pg115). Since no one is supposed to read your diary, the language used is informal and familiar. The diary structure in the Bridget Jones’s Diary film is shown not just through the physical presence of the diary, but also through the voice-overs Bridget, which explains things that the character couldn’t say. The diary element is also shown through writing appearing on the screen in some scenes, and Bridget’s weight and cigarettes appearing on a screen in the street in a later scene. These elements remind viewers that the movie is called what it is, Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The element of a ‘Happily Ever After’ ending is added to the film to add to the original meaning of the novel. By the end of the novel, Bridget and Mark have been together for a short while, (6 days), however, in the movie, they do not get together, or even kiss, until the final scene. “Then he [Mark] took the champagne glass out of my hand, kissed me, and said, ‘Right, Bridget Jones, I’m going to give you pardon for,’ picked me up in his arms, carried me off to the bedroom (which had a fourposter bed!) and did all manner of things which mean whenever I see a diamond-patterned V-neck sweater in future, I am going to spontaneously combust with shame.” (pg307). Similarly, in the novel, Bridget’s mother and father do not get together, “Mum and Dad, who are separated and planning to divorce, are sleeping in the same bed.” (pg299), whereas in the film, they do. Both of these elements add the feeling of a ‘Happily Ever After’ ending to the film, which is not entirely absent in the book; however takes on a different form.

The film version of Bridget Jones’s Diary has many more similar elements to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, than the book does. The film plays up the connections to Pride and Prejudice, which is evident in the casting of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, who also played Mr. Darcy in the popular Pride and Prejudice BBC mini-series. The lengthening of the ending, where Bridget and Mark didn’t get together until the last possible moment, did not occur in the book Bridget Jones’s Diary, but rather in Pride and Prejudice. Mark is also more arrogant and unwilling to accept Bridget in the film. “Mother, I do not need a blind date. Not with a verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney and dresses like her mother.” (Film).

Whereas, in the book Mark gives Bridget a chance. “‘Ah. Really?’ he said. I read that when it first came out. Didn’t you find there was rather a lot of special pleading?’ ‘Oh, well, not too much….’ I said wildly, racking my brains for a way to get off the subject. ‘Have yo been staying with your parents over New Year?’ ‘Yes,’ he said eagerly. ‘You too?'” (pg15). The book can, and does, mention both the book Pride and Prejudice, and the BBC mini-series staring Colin Firth, while the film can’t, because Colin Firth is also staring in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Although the book was based on Pride and Prejudice, the film shows more similarities to it.

Sharon Maguire’s Bridget Jones’s Diary film was a worthwhile adaptation of the book of the same name, written by Helen Fielding, because it shows many of the same issues and themes that Fielding originally wrote into the book, and presented them in a clearer, concise, and more viewer-friendly version, as to make a more enjoyable movie.

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