A show pitch/summary adapted from Margaret Cavendish’s “The Blazing World” (1666) to Netflix producers
I am presenting to you a T.V. show called “The Blazing World”, adapted from Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 science fiction novel “The Blazing World”. The show will feature Anne Hathaway as the empress. The show will begin with Hathaway being abducted by a man in search of a wife. This man will be played by Tom Hiddleston. He will take Hathaway onto his ship where they will then hit a storm that causes the ship to wreck at nearby land. This land will further be considered as the “other” world. One that is not the same as where they just were. (Location: North Pole). Through the freezing conditions, the kidnapper (Hiddleston) dies, but the Empress (Hathaway) survives.
The scene cuts to Hathaway being taken away by various inhuman creatures, sporting half-human half-animal bodies. These creatures will have heads of animals and bodies of human beings. We see Hathaway kicking and screaming as she is being carried away-confused as to what these things are. The creatures take her to their Emperor-she is just as strange to them as they are to her. This is their land.
They take Hathaway to a place she has never seen before-or anything like it. Everything is golden and shimmery and the lighting and vibe of the scene are completely different than the previous one. There is an ominous feel, but the creatures have no ill-intent towards the woman they just found. Upon seeing Hathaway, the Emperor, who will be played by Johnny Depp, decides she is a gift and marries her. Depp will play this character because he can easily embody an ominous/uncomfortable person while also somehow feeling welcoming. With this marriage, Hathaway becomes the Empress and has free reign over the land she just inhibited.
The Empress begins experiments on the land. This is when she learns the basics, the language, religion, and ideology of the people of this land. This also consists of the saying “one sovereign, one religion, one law, and one language.” (Margaret Cavendish). The land is referred to as The Blazing World, and has a very cold climate as it in located on or near the North Pole. She begins to get to know the creatures she now lives with, and comes to learn that each species of animal has its own “group”. There were fish-men, ape-men, bird-men, worm-men and more. Each group or species has their own job for the Blazing World.
The jobs are as follows:
The Fish-men and Worm-men: Philosophy/ teach the Empress about the land’s animals
The Bird-men: Astronomy/ anything to do with the sky or space
The Ape-men: Chemists/explain the natural elements of the world to the Empress
(Above “jobs” ALL according to Cavendish’s The Blazing World)
There are less useful hybrid people too, such as parrot-men or other insect/man hybrids who tend to create chaos and ruin any work around them. These hybrids are banned from entering where the Emperor and Empress live, and are known for doing very poor work.
Each group makes an effort to teach the Empress the ways of her new world. They teach her about the animals, the physics, the way the world is made up in nature, and about their overall way of life.
Once the Empress feels that she knows about The Blazing World, she begins to make changes. She teaches them her own religion, and even builds Chapels. This is when everything becomes very philosophical. She begins wondering about the world in its entirety; how it works and how we or our souls are connected to it and influence it. She becomes haunted by spirits who are traveling to and from another world to communicate with her about the Blazing World. This is when she decides to write a Cabbala, and in the original story, Margaret Cavendish writes herself in as the scribe for the Empress. For the T.V. show, this scribe will simply be referred to as the Duchess. The Duchess will be played by Cynthia Nixon.
The Empress uses information she learned on her own about the Blazing World and information from the spirits to begin her writing. Over the course of her writing with the Duchess, they develop a relationship. The relationship becomes questionable and the Duchess begins question her own relationship with her husband, the Duke. The Duke will be played by Tom Cruise. The Empress travels to their world and meets the Duke and where they are from. The Duchess asks the Empress to help her and the Duke get their estate back as they lost it in the English Civil War. The spirits of Fortune, Honesty, and Prudence show themselves and Honesty and Prudence speak on behalf of the Duke to Fortune. No one is able to convince Fortune to give the estate back, so they give up and accept the loss.
Back at the Blazing World, the Empress admits that creating another religion sparked disagreements and division between groups. We see the different species turning against one another in the favor of religion. Because of this, she agrees to go back to their original religion and reinstates “one sovereign, one religion, one law, and one language.” (Margaret Cavendish).
End of Part 1
What Does This Say About Literature?
I decided to write a plot summary/pitch for a t.v. show based off of Margaret Cavendish’s “The Blazing World”. Seeing literature come to life in a series or a movie is a very important part of literature, as it opens it up to a whole new light, audience, and perception. T.v. adaptations tend to take a different route than the original piece, so I kept that in mind while writing this pitch. I changed a few key things to keep it from being exactly like the book and therefore just a summary of what we already read. For example: The Empress does not kick and scream as she is being saved in the original text. The Emperor also does not see her as a “gift” in the original, but instead he refers to her as a “goddess”. Another added part was the relationship between the Empress’s scribe and her. They specifically have a platonic relationship in the original, according to Rohan Jennings in “The Blazing World Summary: “They agree to send a “plain and rational” woman writer, the Duchess of Newcastle—or Margaret Cavendish, who advises the Empress to write her Cabbala as a fictional allegory. The two women become dear Platonic friends, and their souls frequently visit one another’s worlds.” (Jennings, Rohan). Knowing this, I decided I wanted to create a question for the audience there and hinted towards it being more than platonic. While writing this, I couldn’t help but wonder what an actual screenwriter would write if they were tasked with creating a show for The Blazing World. Where would they make differences? What would they add? What do they see as important and unimportant? In order to write this, I had to look up exactly what a pitch entailed. In an article written by MasterClass, they say to write “a detailed synopsis covering the broad strokes of the entire series, what it’s about, where it is set and the main point you’re trying to get across.” (MasterClass). I used this to create my pitch but definitely went in my own direction a bit. The broad strokes of the text is definitely what I included and I tried to stay away from smaller details. I think it would be super interesting to see Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World turned into something I could watch. I am genuinely curious on how it would be adapted and what would be different from mine. There is a 2021 adaptation of The Blazing World and it is a film. I have not watched it because I did not want it to influence how I wrote my pitch, but it is definitely something that will be cool to see, although it does seem to take a very different route than the original text. According to IMDb, the plot summary of the movie is “Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive.” (IMDb). This sounds completely different than the text and I have also seen some pretty bad reviews on it so it will be interesting to see how they compare!
Jennings, Rohan. “The Blazing World Summary.” LitCharts, LitCharts, 10 Dec. 2021, https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-blazing-world/summary.
MasterClass. “How to Pitch a Television Show: Tips from Judd Apatow and Shonda Rhimes – 2022.” MasterClass, MasterClass, 20 Aug. 2021, https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-pitch-a-television-show.
“The Blazing World.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 15 Oct. 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11378876/.