Making the Grades
BBC's lavishly costumed period piece Wives and Daughters brings all the subtle drama of a raised eyebrow to life.
Molly Gibson (Justine Waddell) takes her responsibilities as a daughter very seriously. Having lost her mother at an early age, she devotedly assumes the role of caring for her busy father (Bill Paterson), adeptly managing his irregular schedule as a physician.
He, in turn, is very protective of her. To avoid unwanted suitors, the good doctor sends the seventeen-year-old to live with Squire Hamley (Michael Gambon) as a companion for his ailing wife. Quickly endeared as one of the family, the gentle girl finds her healing touch is needed more for soothing the couple's disappointments over the decisions of their two grown sons. And, despite her father's best intentions, Molly quietly falls in love with one of the boys.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gibson happens upon an opportunity to marry a widow with a daughter the same age as Molly. Feeling he can finally provide a mother for his child, he takes Claire Fitzpatrick (Francesca Annis) for his wife. But there are certain character traits of both his bride and stepdaughter that he fails to notice, which will change his former parental relationship forever.
Adapted from a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, a contemporary of Dickens, the story is driven by the continual contrasts between characters, such as the deep-thinking man of science wedded to the shallow, gossiping, social climber. However, it is the stepsisters that provide the plot's pivotal irony. Forthright, trustworthy, and self-sacrificing, are the best words to describe the dependable Molly, who is seen too much like "the girl next door" to attract any romantic interest. Whereas the charming Cynthia (Keeley Hawes) is manipulative, self-centered, and anything but constant, yet she infatuates every bachelor she meets.
Watching the fortitude with which Molly faces the challenges others put upon her, and the loyalty she displays even to those who do not earn it, make her a role model worthy of emulation. Although there is little content to concern parents, the dry wit and lack of action may make viewing this lengthy miniseries more appealing toWives and Daughters.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Wives And Daughters.
When Molly hears of her father’s engagement, she is extremely discouraged. A friend tries to comfort her by suggesting she “give things a chance to work out well.” In what ways does she follow this advice? How could this optimistic approach be used in your life?
Why do you think so many men were drawn to Cynthia’s charm? What qualities should one look for in a future spouse?