Each text is not the effort of one person; theme and plot derived from existing texts are present in newer texts through repetition and similarity. Authors compile from pre-existing texts known as intertextuality, the use of prior texts in current texts. Julia Kristeva, a psychoanalyst is the first to introduce the term ‘intertextuality’. She redefines the theories established by Ferdinand de Saussure and Mikhail Bakhtin and suggests a text is not simply interpreted by its words, instead it is a study based on the works it has adapted (lecture).
Kristeva mentions that although a writer usually talks to a specific audience, a text exists in time, and it is reprinted and translated with addressing the language of the current time period known as parole and langue. The novel Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813, but another novel based on the same plot called Bridget Jones Diary, a modern version of Pride and Prejudice was published in 1996. Every text is the absorption and transformation of another, with similar themes and conditions considering the lifestyle in that time period, known as a mimetic orientation.
Intertextuality, the relationship to other prior texts is present among Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones Diary, and A Dog’s Head through the overarching similarity of characters, value of class and synchronic language. The common element of character development is interacting between Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones Diary, and A Dog’s Head. During the 1800’s, the value of high culture and wealth was outstandingly important to the people of that decade.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a plot consisting of high culture, and is strongly referenced in connection to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary.
Fielding’s borrows the plot from Austen and also has some of the same characters and events in her novel. The character of Elizabeth Bennett and Bridget Jones is similarly constructed with the hardships and love crisis they suffer from. First of all, both protagonists fall in love with a man whose last name is Darcy. Both Mr. Darcy are respected and wealthy men. Furthermore, both protagonists share similar feelings, for example, at the ball event Elizabeth is hurt to hear that Mr. Darcy thinks of her to be “‘tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt’” him (Austen 13).
Similarly, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice hurts Bridget by saying she is ill mannered and does not know how to talk (45). At this time both the protagonists dislike both Mr. Darcy and have severe hatred for him. Secondly, Mr. Wickam in Pride and Prejudice is the same as Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones Diary. Both Mr. Wickam and Daniel Cleaver are despised by Mr. Darcy but admired by the heroine at first. Bridget’s mother is a bit like Mrs. Bennett, as they both insist their daughters get married to wealthy men. Bridget believes she is unattractive because she is fat.
When things do not work out with Daniel Cleaver, she questions, “Why does nothing ever work out? It is because I am too fat” (Fielding 181). Bridget is unhappy about her appearance all the time, which is similar to the character of Edmond in A Dog’s Head. The novel A Dog’s Head introduces the unrealistic character of Edmond who is born with the head of a dog, a spaniel in particular. Ovid establishes the theory of metamorphosis emphasizing the transformation of a human to an animal feature in his poem “metamorphosis”. This theory is present in A Dog’s Head as Edmond is a human but has a dog’s head.
Edmond is always troubled in life because people criticize him for having the head of a dog, and to add to that, “the head of the most ridiculous dog to be found” (2). He has a series of unsuccessful relationships, for which he blames his appearance to be the reason, somewhat like Bridget who also blames her weight for her breakup with Daniel. Although the author does not provide a description of Bridget, we know a bit about her through the writings in her diary. Bridget’s negative image of herself results in a lower self-esteem, as well as Edmond who also has a low self-esteem when he remembers he has the head of a spaniel.
At one point, losing his virginity to a prostitute becomes hard because no one wants to sleep with an animal (125). His personal relations with his parents are negative from the day he is born. His parents are happier to be alone so his dad gives him money, “Edmond stuffed the notes into his pocket, kissed his papa and mama and went away, never to return” (47). This further notifies us that although there are minor matches from Edmond’s personality with Elizabeth and Bridget, there is a similarity between the characters through physical appearance and their lives.
The theme of class relates to reputation, the value of money being an ever-long requirement in society. People have been classified into hierarchical sectors according to their financial circumstances. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett’s mother Mrs. Bennett is astonished at the fact that Mr. Bingley is a wealthy and handsome young man visiting their town. She immediately informs her husband and desires one of her daughters marry him. Mrs. Bennett is portrayed as a shallow and self-centered woman as she constantly persists her daughters marry the richest men.
This is evident when Elizabeth announces her engagement to Mr. Darcy and Mrs. Bennett replies “Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it…Oh! My sweetest Lizzy! How rich and great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have! ” (Austen 357). Similarly, in Bridget Jones Diary, Bridget’s mother introduces her to a recently divorced, wealthy man. Bridget is certain on her mother’s motives and she claims, “I don’t know why she didn’t just come out with it and say ‘Darling, do shag Mark Darcy over the turkey curry, won’t you? He’s very rich. ” (Fielding 12).
Comparatively, Edmond from A Dog’s Head lives in a shallow society, where money can overpower anything, even a man with a dog’s head. Edmond invests some money in the stock market and realizes it is more valuable than anything. “Wealth brought Edmond great enjoyment. First, it canceled out his head. [… ] Oh, the sublime effect of bank notes! Overnight that hideous or ridiculous object became just anybody’s head. ” (85) He makes a lot of money and realizes that money has always been there and supported him more than anything else. A hierarchy of social classes has created the boundaries between families and people historically.
The importance of class depicts a social value and worth in society. Lower class people are treated as inferiors while upper class people gain more respect and value. As evident in A Dog’s Head, Edmond is treated better when he has more money and class, and Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Jones want their daughters to be married to rich men. The language and text of Pride and Prejudice is a lot different from Bridget Jones Diary and A Dog’s Head. In order to understand “one text as an intertextual representation of another” (Salber) the individual composition of values and attitudes needs to be understood in different contexts.
With this said, Pride and Prejudice is a realist text composed in the nineteenth century. What is happening in the real world at the time the author writes the text is incorporated into the text, known as mimetic orientation. The author associates a mimetic version of the reality of everyday life set in the Regency period of England, a time when “power and marriage within one’s own class was essential” (Salber). The novel Pride and Prejudice also reveals “aspects of gender, class, identity and marriage as political institution” s a presentation of English history (Art). Language as it exists at any moment of time is referred to as the synchronic system of language (lecture 4). The power of language, synchronically applied suggests that the language in Pride and Prejudice slightly differs from the 20th century language used in Bridget Jones Diary. For example, the word ‘simpleton’ used in Austen’s novel indicates the life of a simple, unmarried girl, whereas in Fielding’s novel, the word ‘singleton’ is used to categorize the career oriented women in search for a perfect male companion.
This supports Kristeva’s statement that “language is read as at least double”, and that the structures of language exist within a certain time period (Salber). As mentioned earlier, Bridget Jones Diary is a modification of Pride and Prejudice and is a more modern approach to the same story. The means of communication are different; for example, Daniel Cleaver and Bridget initiate romance through computer messaging, whereas in Pride and Prejudice communication took the form of letters. The langue, a language viewed as an abstract system used by speech community, is different for every person.
In Pride and Prejudice the vocabulary Austen uses is archaic and demonstrates the time period in which it was written. For example, a conversation between Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner,“It was first broken by Mrs. Annesley, a genteel, agreeable looking woman” (Austen 226). The word ‘genteel’ may not be used in today’s novels and speech and represents its time period. Likewise, the words ‘singleton’, ‘smug marrieds” and ‘emotional fuckwittage’ became a part of the British popular culture when used in Bridget Jones Diary.
The plot of Pride and Prejudice is the same as Bridget Jones Diary since Bridget Jones Diary is a modification of Pride and Prejudice and is a more modern approach to the same story. The female protagonists both worry about the relationships in their lives. The plot begins with the life of the female protagonists, and continues to their developing lives as the plot moves on.
Both Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones Diary are the same story, where the first event, the ball in Pride and Prejudice is held with the attempt to find a suitor for Mr. Bingley who is a young and wealthy man, and similarly a Christmas party is held by Bridget’s mother to introduce Bridget to Mr. Darcy. The events that occur further on in the texts lead to the same conclusion in both novels. The value of class and reputation is an overarching theme similarly applied in the three novels proving money has the value to make anyone happy. Lastly, the use of language and difference in word choice is what makes the novels acceptable in their time periods. These intertextual relations combine the three novels with many similarities.