?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Mansfield_Park_0521


MARY AND HENRY CRAWFORD IN "MANSFIELD PARK"

Every time I read an article or review about Jane Austen's 1814 novel, "MANSFIELD PARK", the authors of these articles always comment on the unpopularity of the novel's leading character, Fanny Price. I could say the same about most articles and reviews on the novel's television and movie adaptations. Time and again, both critics and others claim that most Austen fans have a low opinion of Fanny Price. At the same time, these same commentators like to point out the popularity of the novel's antagonists, Henry and Mary Crawford.

The first time I had come across such a statement about Fanny Price and the Crawfords, I decided to search for further articles that verified these claims. In all honesty, I have come across at least less than a half-a-dozen articles or blogs that either criticized Fanny or praised the Crawfords to the sky - especially Mary Crawford - or did both. But most of the articles and reviews I have discovered usually followed this structure:

1. Fanny Price is very unpopular with Austen fans.

2. The Crawfords - especially Mary - is very popular with Austen fans.

3. The authors claim that they harbor the same opinions, until recently.

4. The authors eventually state that they believe Fanny Price is a misunderstood character and praise her character to the sky as a paragon of virtue and courage.

5. Or the authors would point out Fanny's personality flaws and claim that Austen used as some kind of metaphor for eighteenth century morality play, or etc.

6. Bring up the Crawfords and reveal how degenerate they really were, despite any virtues they may possess. Both characters have been called the worse names in an effort to make Fanny look good.


I like to call the above structure or formula - "The Defense of Fanny Price Campaign". And most articles I have read about "MANSFIELD PARK" usually follow this formula. In fact, I have come across so many articles of this nature that I now have doubts that most Austen fans really dislike Fanny or even like the Crawfords.

I am well aware that Mary and Henry Crawford were flawed. And I believe that Austen did an excellent job of making their flaws rather obvious. On the other hand, I believe that she did a pretty good job in portraying their virtues, as well. Fanny Price was no different, in my opinion. Mind you, I found her rather dull at times. But I have never dismissed her on those grounds. Fanny did have her virtues. But I believe that she also possesed flaws. And like the Crawfords, she never overcame hers by the end of the novel. But whereas Austen literally ignored Fanny's flaws by the end of novel . . . and gave her a wide berth, she castigated the Crawfords for failing to overcome their flaws. Many critics and fans who have posted articles in the very fashion I brought up, also did the same. And so did the movie and television adaptations.

This is the main problem I have about "MANSFIELD PARK". If Austen had been willing to acknowledge Fanny's flaws (let alone those of her cousin, Edmund Bertram), I would have never found it difficult to enjoy the story. I suspect that "MANSFIELD PARK" could have easily been one of those novels that explored the complex nature of all of its major characters without labeling one or two of them as "villains". Or . . . if she really wanted to villify the Crawfords that badly, she would have been better off portraying them as superficial, one-note characters.

But what I find really frustrating is this so-called "Defense of Fanny Price" campaign that seemed to have swamped the Internet for the past four-to-five years. By utilizing the structure that I had earlier pointed out, these critics and fans seem willing to turn a blind eye to Fanny's flaws; at the same time, castigate Mary and Henry Crawfords as villains on the same level as George Wickham of "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE". Of all the articles I have come across about the characters featured in the 1814 novel, only one has seemed willing to view them all as morally complex and ambiguous. If there are other "MANSFIELD PARK" articles of similar nature, I can only hope that someone would inform me.


henry-and-mary-crawford crawford bro and is

Comments

rpowell
Aug. 16th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC)
One, a good deal of Fanny's antipathy toward the Crawfords had a lot to do with her personal jealousy of Edmund's romance with Mary. I didn't care for the way Edmund and Fanny constantly talked about Mary behind the latter's back. One particular scene, in which they criticized Mary's comments about her uncle really annoyed me. They seemed more concern with the idea of Mary being respectful of her uncle's patriarchal position than the fact that said uncle had exposed Mary to the presence of his mistress on a daily basis. Fanny and Edmund spent most of the story constantly judging others. And yet, both seemed incapable of noticing or acknowledging each other's flaws, let alone their own. I found their behavior hypocritical. My main problem with Mary was that like Fanny, she was just as blind to Edmund's flaws as he was to hers.

But my real problem with the story is that while the other characters - especially the Crawfords - were constantly judged by their flaws without barely acknowledging their virtues, Edmund and especially Fanny's flaws were ignored or brushed over. I would like to see a film or television adaptation in which Fanny and Edmund either acknowledge their flaws or have a narrator point them out in the end.
ever_maedhros
Aug. 16th, 2011 06:33 am (UTC)
Oh, I see. Now that I think of it, you're right that Edmund and Fanny were constantly discussing the flaws they saw in others. That didn't even occur to me as I read--probably because it happens so often with real people in real life. But, flawed though they may be, I still like Edmund and Fanny.
rpowell
Aug. 16th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
I could have liked Fanny and Edmund . . . if Austen had allowed them to be self-aware of their own flaws, as well as the flaws in others. But . . . Austen and all of the filmmakers that adapted her work never allowed that to happen.

Profile

rpowell
RPowell

Latest Month

October 2017
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Tags

Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com