Are Plot Modernizations a Good Idea?

lizziebennetdiariesI found the web series The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Emma Approved recently. Both are modernized versions of Jane Austen’s novels in the form of vlogs. In some ways, they are really entertaining. In other ways, they have major set backs.

For example, Lydia Bennett’s character development is much more dynamic and interesting in The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. On the other hand, the one-sided narrative somewhat destroys the chemistry between Lizzie and Darcy. It’s also strange that a 21st century mother would be that obsessed with marrying her daughters away.

So are modernizations a good idea?

Classics are usually subject to modernization—to make them relevant. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, all have been made into modern settings and it always seems to be a little strange.

Even the Bible. Yes, Milton’s Paradise Lost while still in it’s original setting expands on the first half of the book of Genesis, and I’d like to call it an adaptation at the very least.

And why does Milton do this? To justify the ways of God to man—he’s trying to make it relevant.

My problem is…wouldn’t a good story be good (in some part) due to its timeless meaning despite time-locked setting?

Maybe its why I’m so uncomfortable with modernizations, and yet trying to make them relevant encourages me to read the original source material. (Just another thing to add to the “Why Paradise Lost is Inaccessible” List)

So internet, what do you think? Comment below!

“To the highth of this great Argument / I may assert Eternal Providence, / And justifie the wayes of God to men.” -Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, 24-26


2 thoughts on “Are Plot Modernizations a Good Idea?”

  1. I quite enjoyed these adaptations. I have recently finished all of the Lizzie Bennett and spin off videos and have just started the Emma Approved videos. My English lecturer said that we must view adaptations as separate works in their own right, rather than simple adaptations of the original. I think that this is especially true of these modernisations. They are not a simple copy of the original text, and I think that they add depth to certain characters in ways which Jane Austen perhaps did not intend. I enjoy them as individual stories; great in their own right.
    As far as Shakespearean adaptations go, perhaps their greatest flaw is that they do not change the language to fit their new setting. I love Shakespearean language, but it simply has no place in our modern world. I think that that is why they feel strange in modern adaptations.
    Thank you for the post. 🙂
    Memma xx


    1. I never thought of it that way. As separate works, I do enjoy modernizations, it’s just that I have this inexplicable need to compare. You make a good point about Shakespeare though…even though he invented the term “eyeball”, his language just doesn’t match at all. Thanks for Reading!


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