Why you should reconsider Fanny Price as a worthy Jane Austen heroine
Fanny Price gets a lot of scorn thrown at her for being the most ‘boring’ Austen heroine. People say she’s too reserved, too prude, too modest, and too judging. I think Fanny has gotten an unfair treatment and I actually consider her to be the most relatable Austen leading lady. In order to defend Fanny, I have constructed this Top Ten list on why you should give Fanny a second chance.
So without further introduction:
1. Fanny is awkward and fails at basic human interaction a lot of the time (most of the time). She lives to avoid notice and hide in plain sight so that she doesn’t have to engage in small talk with her insipid relatives. Which, come on, we all pull the statue technique in the desperate hope we’ll escape notice and not have to talk with our relatives during some reunion dinner where your aunt is looking for the next person to tell that story of what her cat threw up recently. Fanny is the embodiment of internal screaming.
2. Sure, Fanny doesn’t have the brilliant witticisms of Elizabeth Bennet, but consider this—she instead acts how any one of us average, not clever and confident people would act. When people ask her for her opinion, she is overcome with anxiety about making the wrong choice! She spends a lot of time sweating nervously! When she’s offended, she imagines telling people off instead of actually doing so because she wants to avoid conflict! Face it. We are all Fanny Price.
3. No supremely rich man swoops out of nowhere conveniently to marry her and raise her into high society. Which, you know, probably won’t happen to you. Or me. Which is a tragedy.
4. She actually marries a man who is never once a jerk to her (except out of neglect, which he apologizes for later and probably is sleepless over guilt about). Edmund is a good, stable, and good natured man who isn’t particularly rich or handsome, but he and Fanny complement each other and will most likely have a peaceful and happy marriage. Inter-personal conflict with your marriage partner is NOT the goal people!
5. She’s not mean to people she doesn’t like and, instead, patiently puts up with them. We all dream of telling people off, but, like Fanny, we’re most likely to politely respond to their e-mails or Facebook messages while gritting our teeth so that we can continue to exist peacefully on our own time.
6. She has to cope with one of the most entitled male characters—Henry Crawford, who basically tries to ruin her because he feels like she friendzoned him. She also has to listen to everyone complaining at her for friendzoning Henry because he goes on a smear campaign blaming her rejection of him for why he has an affair with her married cousin and inducing the whole family into scandal. He literally argues that if Fanny hadn’t said no, he wouldn’t have had sex with her cousin. Because he’s the victim of her rejection, and so it’s all her fault. I mean COME ON. He’s a fuckboy and he won’t leave Fanny alone. How can you not feel for her?
7. Have I mentioned she is plagued by HENRY CRAWFORD, fuckboy extraordinaire? (This is a separate reason because I just wanted to call Henry Crawford a fuckboy one last time, when I still had the opportunity.)
8. She watches the person she’s in love with fall for someone who is completely unmatched for him and can never make him happy but doesn’t know how to stop it from happening and is way too non-confrontational to advise him against it, so she stiffly stands around while it happens all the while hoping that the earth will split along its tectonic plates and swallow her alive so she can escape this living hell. (This is only a slight exaggeration, probably).
9. She’s an introvert and a fucking nerd (I assume).
10. Fanny is intimidated by people even when they’re nice to her, indicating a level of lack of faith in the world that we can all suffer from. She’s suspicious about kindness, but I can’t even blame her considering that her parents kicked her out of the house because they couldn’t afford to keep her and her cousins/aunts treat her like a piece of furniture that has outdated upholstery. Plus it saves her from Henry Crawford so is she even wrong to doubt people’s good intentions? NOPE.
I think people don’t like Fanny because she’s too much like a mirror image of ourselves. We WANT to think that we would be Elizabeth Bennet, because she’s so much more attractive and clever than Fanny. We aspire to navigate life with that kind of grace.
But we shouldn’t look down on Fanny for acting like we do every day. We should relate to her. We should be saying to Fanny, every time she freaks out because someone asks her to make a decision, “same girl.”
Every time Fanny mumbles instead of thinking of a witty comeback, we should nod our heads and say, “been there.”
When Fanny has to try to shield the kindness of Henry because it’s with the ulterior motive of banging her, we should roll our eyes and say, “men. Am I right?”
Love Fanny. Love yourselves.