This is a weird world we’re living in…
I just finished Mansfield Park which is my least favorite Austen novel.
I’ve never hated Fanny Price, the leading lady. On the list of Austen heroines, she just ranks the lowest.
But during this read I’ve gained a little more respect for her as a character.
Before, I did get really irritated with how passive she is and how little she speaks despite thinking and observing quite a bit.
First, she doesn’t give her real thoughts and feelings to Edmund about his crush Mary Crawford.
Upon reflection, this makes some sense. Do we ever listen to anyone saying negative things about our crush? We usually have to come to our senses on our own. And he does say that he sees her flaws he just consistently excuses them.
Second, Fanny doesn’t give concrete reasons for rejecting Mr. Crawford’s proposals.
Part of it is that she doesn’t want to throw Maria under the carriage. Honestly, I thought she should have. Especially since we know what will happen. But, as the narrator points out in the last chapter, Maria will be the one who suffers for it. Fanny is trying to look out for her cousin. I support that sentiment.
She’s also rejecting him because she’s in love with Edmund. The first time I read this I focused more on how she doesn’t say anything and just stays quiet while he crushes on someone else. This time I focused more on how consistent she is. She still likes him the whole time and continues to reject Crawford despite his charm and money, plus the peer pressure she’s getting from everyone else.
During this reading I came to admire her understated stubbornness.
I’m not sure where she will rank by the end of the year but she’s at least in the competition this time.