Happy Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month!
For those of you who don’t know what that is, Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month is celebrated in the USA and starts on September 15th and ends on October 15th. Unlike most national months, these specific dates were chosen to honor the days that many Latin American countries received their independence; along with incorporating Día de la Raza which falls on October 12th.
I’ve been planning this post for a while and since telenovelas are a big part of Latino culture, I thought what better day to post it than today.
So every July for my Blogiversary I post questions in my Instagram stories and then I post the answers that people gave along with my own thoughts sprinkled in. One of my questions this year was “What is a Jane Austen Themed Tradition, Oddity, or Eccentricity You Have/Have in Your Family?” One of my answers was that I have given all the characters of Mansfield Park a Latin name. It all started as a joke, you see being Latina whenever I read Mansfield Park or talk about it I always pronounce Maria as the Spanish form (mah. – ree. – ah) instead of the English way (mah-rye-ah). Since she is Maria, I stated saying Tomás instead of Thomas, pronouncing Julia as the Spanish form (Hoo. – lyah), and even Fanny as Francesca sometimes. Most of the time I just say Edmund, but occasionally I call him Edmundo as well.
On Instagram rackelbaskcally commented that after reading that she now started looking at Mansfield Park as a telenovela. And that got me thinking, which Jane Austen novel would make the best telenovela?
Before I begin, I would like to say that I am not an expert on telenovelas, and this post is a reflection of my personal experiences in watching them and familial views. Back to the post!
Telenovelas are often described as Latin soap operas but are really much more. While soap operas are often not seen as “good TV” to a lot of people (most will call them a “guilty pleasure” rather than admit they are a major fan of a melodrama); telenovelas, on the other hand, watching them isn’t something to be ashamed of. Yes they can have outlandish plots, be extremely illogical, and have problematic themes (they aren’t perfect); they also combine comedy, drama, passion, and romance; along with commentary on serious issues such infidelity, betrayal, drug/alcohol abuse, discussions regarding education/the educational system, one’s struggle to find their place, etc. Most telenovelas revolve around a main character who is of lower economic status trying to improve themself and achieve job success; with of course along the way marrying a handsome and rich person.
And every telenovela that I have seen involve our main characters triumphing, and our villain getting their just desserts.
So now that we have had a little backstory on telenovelas (sorry for going overboard) which book would be the best to translate to a telenovela? I think you could make a case for all for all of them as the themes in Jane Austen’s books are easily relatable to the Latino community. A lot of the issues the women face, Latina women are going through today-just slightly different.
Now I know there is one telenovela based on Jane Austen; Orgulho e Paixão (Pride and Passion) from Brasil. I haven’t watched it (I’m still trying to find where it’s available to stream), but which book is your pick?
First of all my top pick is Mansfield Park, as we have our heroine Fanny, the one from a lower economic status, being put in this wealthy world and having to navigate through her rude relatives. Not to mention we have issues of money in the Bertram family as Tom/Tomás is gambling away the fortune. To really up the drama in our telenovela adaption you could have that a person is pursposely trying to steal away Mansfield Park and cheating Tom/Tomás out of everything they have. If we wanted to modernize it, Mansfield Park could also be a company instead of just a home.
We also have the appearance of the Crawfords and the destruction/unmasking of the Bertrams they bring (as like Jane Austen’s work most telenovelas have characters that are not all good or all bad). With them we have Henry Crawford making a play for all three female cousins, Maria cheating on her husband, Fanny’s banishment when she wouldn’t marry Henry, and Tom/Tomás’ near death experience. This would make a great telenovela!
And if we further wanted to up the drama in our telenovela we could even have where Henry is trying to cheat them out of Mansfield Park, only to change his mind when he wants to marry Fanny; but alas by then it’s too late she has discovered his sinister plot and that he slept with her married cousin. ¡Ay, Dios mío! Oh the drama!
My second choice would be Sense and Sensibility, as it too has drama, passion, terrible relatives, losing your home and fortune, etc! We have our heroines, Elinor and Marianne, who have lost their fatjer and discovered with the will hardly anything has been left to them. Unbeknownst to them, thier brother John has promised to take care of them, but after their father died he and his villainous wife, Fanny, have decided to give them nothing. In true telenovela fashion there should be a second will that they destroy to keep the Dashwood sisters from inheriting anything.
Not to mention Fanny Dashwood would be the perfect telenovela villain, everything she does is beyond terrible. Keeping an inheritance from her sister-in-laws, saying they are not even family because they are half siblings, keeping Edward and Elinor apart, and even taking Lucy with them instead of John’s sisters. She’s perfect!
Willoughby and Colonel Brandon would be a great telenovela men, although in a telenovela Colonel Brandon’s ward would really be his illegitimate daughter or niece, not just the daughter of a friend of the family and he’s caring for her; only for it to be revealed that the woman Colonel Brandon loves has been dating the man who deserted his ward/illegitimate daughter/illegitimate niece.
And not to mention the plot line where Elinor is in love with Edward, Fanny tries to keep them apart, only for is to discover he’s been secretly engaged this whole time!!! ¡Ay, Dios mío! Oh the drama!
So what do you think? Which one would you pick? Comment below!
For more on Mansfield Park, go to The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)
For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)
For more blending of Jane Austen with my Latina culture, go to Feliz Día de Muertos: Celebrando con Mi Ofrenda de Jane Austen