If you’re a small-time Jersey City girl with big-time overseas dreams of a place foreign to us and a time when courtesies, chivalry, respect and simplicity were the order of the day, then you owe it to yourself to watch all of these amazing classics. We often get lost in busy city lives and can sometimes reach a disconnect to how people should interact before technology made it easy for us avoid continual face-to-face time with each other.
Some might call Miniseries Classics a “guilty pleasure”. Though, the term “guilty pleasure” is not quite appropriate for these films because it implies they’re embarrassing to enjoy. But this is not the case at all since these stories have true merit and features some of the bravest and most inspirational women literature has ever seen. The fact that these novels were all based in the 1800’s only strengthens the point that these women were exceptional in a time when they were expected to behave and perform as society dictated.
What sets these leading ladies apart is their absolute refusal to care if they can’t invariably conform to the delicacies that their culture forces upon them and persist in finding their true happiness even though they might be shunned from society. With a lot of romance, a lot of chivalry, a bit of murder and a good deal of family crisis these movie adaptations provide hours upon hours of true-to-story entertainment.
Here’s a list of a few that should not be missed — some you can view on instant Netflix.
OUR MUTUAL FRIEND – Charles Dickens-1865.
Leading lady: Bella Wilfur.
Spoiled yet born into poverty, Bella goes through a transition of ideals in this complex drama of money and betrayal. An affable couple who inherited a fortune offer to take Bella in as a ward when they hear her future husband who she never met appears to have passed away. Bella gets caught up in the excitement and glamor of riches and experiencing the height of society. But she learns the hard way that wealth doesn’t always bring happiness, and the people who have known nothing but what money can bring are sometimes jaded and cruel.
MIDDLEMARCH – George Eliot, pen name Mary Ann Eveas – 1874.
Leading lady: Dorothea Brooke
Dorothea is one of those people who perpetually make you feel like a lesser person because she’s constantly attempting to better herself and the world around her. She’s considered unusual when she chooses to marry an unpleasant, older man because she considers him capable of great works. Even though her marriage isn’t quite what she expected, she will never see it that way or ever complain. She also continues her quest for helping others, and the the people who’s lives she touches are honored and dazzeled.
THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL – Anne Bronte – 1848
Leading lady: Helen Huntingdon.
As naive girl, Helen gives in to her passion for the charming Mr. Huntingdon. Despite her aunt’s disapproval, she weds him and quickly learns he’s actually cruel and detached. Years imprisoned in misery, her abusive husband is a terrible influence on her son, so she finally decides to disappear in the middle of the night under the guise of a grieving widow and makes a new life in another town. Her and her son live in poverty and attempt to keep a low profile to avoid being detected. When a new love interest enters the picture, Helen tries to repel him. Her odd behavior leaves her the new gossip of the town and she’s met with hate and hostility. Eventually her sick husband finds her and takes back her son, so she has no choice but to go back leaving her new love interest behind. After some time she’s able to return to the town she made her real home.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Bronte – pen name Ellis Bell – 1847
Leading lady: Cathy Earnshaw.
This novel was banned when it was first published because of the violently passionate love affair Cathy and Heathcliff have. Cathy marries another man when Heathcliff disappears for many years, and when he returns she can’t possibly love her husband again. Cathy vows she cannot live without Heathcliff, and the scandalous affair continues. Her husband forbids Heathcliff to visit her, and when she can no longer see him, pregnant Cathy stops taking care of herself and ultimately keeps her vow that she cannot live without him.
JANE EYRE – Charlotte Bronte – 1847
Leading lady: Jane Eyre.
Defiant and misunderstood as a child, Jane’s adoptive family shun her from their lives and send her to a charity boarding school for girls. Through years of hard work Jane excels and paves her own way through life. After growing up in the school then becoming a teacher herself, she realizes she’s done nothing else with her life. She seeks new employment with a family in need of a governess, then she and her employer, Mr. Rochester, fall in love. Right before the wedding she finds out he is already legally married to a wife who is mentally insane and hidden away in his house. Although she loves him, she refuses to compromise her ideals and flees from his house penniless and alone. One she comes into her own and becomes an independent woman, an unfortunate accident bring them back together.
WIVES & DAUGHTERS – Elizabeth Glaskill -1864-1866
Leading ladies: Molly Gibson & Cynthia Kirkpatrick
Molly is a compliant sweet-mannered girl while her new step-sister, Cynthia, is a dispassionate flirt. Molly becomes very close with a high society family, the Hamleys, and eventually falls in love with the younger son, Roger. She’s fascinated by his passion for science and she attempts to learn everything she can about his work and studies all the research he performs. When Cynthia comes to live with Molly, Roger is instantly infatuated by her. Before he leads an excursion to Africa, he proposes to Cynthia and she reluctantly agrees. Molly is devastated by Cynthia’s unemotional attachment to him and deals with the anguish of Roger loving another. Drama ensues that makes Cynthia break off the engagement between her and Roger, and when he returns from Africa, he sees Molly in a new light.
NORTH & SOUTH – Elizabeth Glaskill – 1855
Leading lady: Margaret Hale
This is the ultimate story of prejudice and misjudgment of people who they don’t truly understand. Margaret is uprooted by her father from her dream-like paradise home in the country and made to live in the dirty industrial town of Milton. Margaret witnesses cotton factory owner, Mr. Thornton, berate an employee in a cruel manner and she immediately dislikes him. She’s shocked and horrifying by the cold inhabitants of Milton and the poverty of the employees of the cotton mills. Margaret acts as a buffer between the striking and starving workers, and the owners of the factory mills. Milton starts to grow on Margaret and eventually Thornton does too. Even though she’s seen terrible sadness and tragedy concerning her friends and family, she now considers this dirty town home. Ultimately, the strike bankrupts Thornton’s mill, and Margaret returns to Milton to save it.
All flicks recieve 5 out of 5 stars