My niece recently showed me the YouTube link to a series of creative and funny changes to the endings of movies, called “How It Should Have Ended.” They made me laugh, until I started to think about Jane Austen. What if her books had ended differently?
Emma could have easily missed her opportunity with Mr. Knightley, slowly evolving into a wealthy version of the incessant Miss Bates. Or why couldn’t Emma have been a good match with Frank Churchill? He made her laugh and act her age; they could have gone on double dates with Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
God forbid if Elizabeth Bennett had been forced into marriage with Mr. Collins in order to beat the entail. Hard as I try, though, I just can’t imagine her winding up with him, or even Wickham, or ever deferring to Lady de Bourgh. Maybe she would have enjoyed the freedom of living with Jane and Mr. Bingley, being the lovable spinster aunt to their children and continuing to use her sharp wit in society.
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Elinor Dashwood could have fallen in love with the similarly-minded Colonel Brandon and missed all of that heartache with Lucy and Edward. Actually, why not really shake things up and let her mother Mrs. Dashwood find love again with Colonel Brandon? And why not let Marianne run off to London to enjoy a bohemian life of romance, balls, literature and music? She could have become the 19th century version of Anais Nin or Frida Kahlo.
An alternative ending to Persuasion is easy—a marriage between the young Anne Elliott and the newly enlisted Frederick Wentworth that is welcomed and approved by Sir Walter and Lady Russell. Although I guess that would be way too easy. Maybe Anne Elliott could go through some psychotherapy to find a way to stand up to her oafish father and self-infatuated sisters, and then she could write about her experiences and becomes a famous and rich author.
Although it is fun to imagine alternative endings, it makes me appreciate all the more the artistry and talent of Jane Austen. She has created engaging and beloved characters and timeless plots that endure to this day.