Was Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ based on Pride and Prejudice?

I actually like this 2008 song.  It’s a bit too cheesy, a bit too country and a bit too girly-girly for my usual tastes, but something about it makes me sing along to the chorus and get a bit wrapped up in the fairytale.  (I also find watching Kanye West parodies very funny.) However, this post is based on a bit of a rumour I have heard being repeated around. Basically, friends of mine have mentioned that Taylor Swift used Pride and Prejudice as inspiration for her chart-topping song ‘Love Story’… but what truth is there in this?  And why does it range from people saying she has ripped off 2005 P&P to saying that it’s nice she included Mr. Darcy?

Upon watching the music video, it’s obvious how someone could assume that it was a bit Pride and Prejudice-y.  Certainly, if you don’t know much about Regency clothing (it’s actually Renaissance dress in this video, I believe), you could assume that the ballroom scenes were potentially from that time (especially given the style of dance).  LoveRomancePassion even has a post called ‘A Regency Love Story- Taylor Swift’. But is every man wearing a cravat supposed to be an embodiment of Mr. Darcy?  And was that really what Ms. Swift was getting at?

Wikipedia holds a little bit of a clue as to where this rumour originated.  It includes the brief line: “… then there are some video scenes alternating flashbacks and present scenes, which appear to be an allusion to Pride and Prejudice. Taylor Swift, dressed in a ball gown, is seen singing outside a castle while she is waiting for her version of Mr Darcy.”  Unfortunately, as you can probably notice from reading the excerpt, there aren’t any actual links or citations to explain where this idea came from. 

A random comment in the blackhole of the web said: “I’m simply in love with Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy is an amazing character. However, her choice to play Darcy (Justin Gaston) is not a particular favorite of mine.”  I also found that on Yahoo answers someone had responded to a question asking what literature (besides Romeo and Juliet) Taylor Swift made reference to in Love Song, with “Pride and Prejudice”.  Even reviews on Amazon have referenced this.  So it is becoming a thought that the song is, at least in part, based on Pride and Prejudice, and that much is frighteningly certain.

Interestingly enough, on viewing that supposed Mr. Darcy scene it’s probably the least Pride and Prejudice of the whole thing.  The clothes her “version” of Mr. Darcy is wearing are just unacceptable as Regency era.  It does, however, seem to be very close to the 2005 Joe Wright scene where Lizzie and Mr. Darcy meet in a meadow together to this sickeningly sweet music.  And the guy certainly has this tall, dark and handsome look (both in that sort-of Regency dress, and the modern day clothes we see him in) that we always attribute to Darcy. 

Another interesting rumour, which I daresay might have some truth to it, is that the actress who played Lydia in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice (that is, Jena Malone), is in the background of Taylor Swift’s video!  This makes a little bit of sense, the girl does look stunning in period costume and has been breaking into the music industry herself (with some weird cool Indie music).  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to decide if it looks like her (and I can’t see anywhere on the web that ratifies/argues this point), but I’m actually leaning towards the affirmative after putting together the following photos for comparison:

(The picture on the left is the girl from Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Song’ music video, the one on the top right is Jena Malone, and bottom right is Jena Malone as Lydia)

So what do you think?  Do they look like the same person?  Jena Malone certainly has distinctive features, so it’s quite possible that they are one and the same.

The entire storyline of the video itself is not at all Pride and Prejudice.  Obviously, both lovers fall at first sight (as is atypical for this sort of music).  And this stands to reason, because the piece is also based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (very obvious through the lyrics) with a bit of a head-nod to A Scarlett Letter (although this is confused, and criticised by Literary Bloggers from all over as losing the actual meaning of A Scarlett Letter).  But, does including these two literary allusions mean that it is more likely for Pride and Prejudice to be lumped in as another romantic text to base a song on?  Surely not.

Perhaps the idealistic ending was the PandP inspired part.  Certainly that isn’t from Romeo and Juliet.  Maybe PandP was a joint inspiration (with her own experiences) for the line: “This love is difficult, but it’s real.” But this link seems far too tenuous to me.  Yet despite this, the Pride and Prejudice= Love Story link has been breeding all over the place.  Over at The Insider, a celeb news site, the contributor MTZBuzzworthy states that it’s : “Taylor’s stylized, Rapunzel-meets-Pride-and-Prejudice fairy tale” so perhaps it is all a visual thing (as certainly Rapunzel is never even mentioned, nor I imagine dwelt upon in the creation).

Fans of Swift and Austen haven’t failed to notice that there could be a link, and have flocked to make videos using Love Song as the backdrop to Pride and Prejudice mashups all over youtube:

There is, however, hope yet.  I have read some comments (particularly on song meaning websites) that have mentioned that it would have been far better if she HAD based it on Pride and Prejudice.  That, is real love people.  So, is it?  Isn’t it?  You decide and let me know!


Filed under A good find, Discussion, Movie Review

11 responses to “Was Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ based on Pride and Prejudice?

  1. In 2008, I was teaching a Jane Austen first-year college writing class, and my students came in one day really excited about Taylor Swift’s “Love Song” music video. They thought it was just like Pride and Prejudice, and pulled the video up on their computers to show me. I had never heard of Taylor Swift before. I could see all the differences mentioned above, but I was delighted that they were making connections between P&P and their pop culture lives.

  2. Pauline

    Hmm, I really think that any link there must’ve been decided by fans, and wasn’t intentional. And it’s tenuous at best. Especially since that whole running and meeting in a field thing is fairly overused. Plus as you mentioned, the costuming is nowhere close to regency, and no part of the storyline is close to P&P. Probably not a real loss for Austen fans though 😛

    • thatjennie

      Pauline, I love you haha! I agree. I mean, men’s clothing rarely changes in my mind, but those dresses are so far from Regency dress! The addition of Jena Malone is curious though… but, of course, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily P&P, it just means that she is interested in dressing up prettily and dancing (as most of us are!).

  3. Maddi

    I’m not sure if you listened to the lyrics, but she sings “Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone…..” It’s about Romeo and Juliet. I have seen Pride and Prejudice about 5000000000 times and this song has nothing to do with it.

    • thatjennie

      Thanks for stopping by at The Bennet Sisters, and for the comment. However, I think you may have misread what I was trying to say. I did acknowledge that “this stands to reason, because the piece is also based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (very obvious through the lyrics)”. What I was talking about, however, is the COMMON ASSERTION from people all over the internet and even in my friendship group that she used Pride and Prej as inspiration or as part of the story she was trying to get accross. This song is NOT solely about Romeo and Juliet anyway, as it obviously changes the storyline of that, and also references other classical lit. In the post above I also came to the conclusion that it probably isn’t used as part of the song, however it hasn’t stopped the discussion. If you haven’t tried reading Pride and Prejudice though, I definitely recommend it- it is far better than any film/series version!

  4. Pingback: Jane loves blogs | Lady Writer

  5. YoungWriter

    I don’t know if it was based on it, but the field scene, Romeo’s outfit is practically identical to Darcy’s in the 2005 movie with Matthew McFadyen and Kiera Knightly.

  6. YoungWriter

    In the Behind the Scenes Video of the “Love Story” Music Video, Taylor Swift calls it “Pride-and-Prejudice-y.” I disagree with that since R&J and P&P are very different stories, but if she meant the staging and costumes for the last “scene” of the music video, then I agree.

  7. lynn

    I think we all need to take this with a grain of salt. I think I just watched Ms. Swift pick a cherry off a -bush-.

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