The fourth voice challenge shall be Mr Woodhouse from
Jane Austin’s novel, Emma.
Emma was published in 1816 and captures life in the
fictional village of Highbury somewhere in Suffolk, which is an
agricultural stronghold in the southeast of England. Sparknotes.com describes Mr Woodhouse as Emma’s
father and the patriarch of Hartfield, the Woodhouse estate. Though Mr.
Woodhouse is nervous, frail, and prone to hypochondria, he is also known for
his friendliness and his attachment to his daughter. He is very resistant to
change, to the point that he is unhappy to see his daughters or Emma’s
governess marry. In this sense, he impedes Emma’s growth and acceptance of her
adult destiny. He is often foolish and clearly not Emma’s intellectual equal,
but she comforts and entertains him with insight and affection.
So what should be considered when doing an older voice? The voice definitely mellows in tone the older
we get and sometimes the voice or the lungs aren’t necessarily in great
condition. A more over-the-top example can be
heard by YouTube user Yaseen Nasser.
Other tips from the Voice Acting Club Forum
include dropping your cheeks/corners of your mouth due to sagging of the face,
which in turns means the other parts of the mouth need to work harder. Also expressed was an old man voice is more about
texture in the throat and chest than pitch.
It is certainly the case that Mr Woodhouse’s voice will be
influenced by his nervous and frail condition and in the book he doesn’t get
out much beyond his short walks in the grounds of his estate. The tone of his voice will also no doubt be
influenced by his friendly nature.
Here are some examples of Mr Woodhouse in adaptations of
BBC 2009 Series of Emma with Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse – breathy, fragile, soft tone, upper-class
BBC 1996 TV Movie of Emma with Bernard Hepton as Mr
Woodhouse – Light and friendly, but still fragile.
I have chosen the following lines from Mr Woodhouse’s
“A house of her own!—But where is the advantage of a
house of her own? This is three times as large.—And you have never any odd
humours, my dear.”
“How often we shall be going to see them, and they
coming to see us!—We shall be always meeting! We must begin; we must go and pay
wedding visit very soon.”
“My dear, how am I to get so far? Randalls is such a
distance. I could not walk half so far.”
“He is very young to settle,” was Mr.
“He had better not be in a hurry. He seemed to me
very well off as he was. We were always glad to see him at Hartfield.”
“You are acquainted with Miss Jane Fairfax, sir, are
you?” said Mr. Woodhouse, always the last to make his way in conversation;
“then give me leave to assure you that you will find
her a very agreeable young lady. She is staying here on a visit to her
grandmama and aunt, very worthy people; I have known them all my life. They
will be extremely glad to see you, I am sure; and one of my servants shall go
with you to shew you the way.”