Top Ten Tuesdays: Fanny Price

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.

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Fuckboys of Classic Literature: Mansfield Park Edition

As my year with Jane Austen is coming to a close, I’ve been ruminating on Mansfield Park, particularly the quote “Let him have all the perfections in the world, I think it ought not be set down as certain that a man must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself.”

In this quote, Austen attacks male entitlement and what we now call the friendzone—men feeling cheated or insulted that though they are nice and attentive to a woman they like, the woman doesn’t like them back. Austen shuts this down with one of her mildest characters, which adds to the humor because Fanny is all propriety and politeness, but even she has no time for men complaining about being friendzoned.

This line of thinking led me to the important discovery that Henry Crawford is literally a fuckboy, be it a 19th century fuckboy.

Seriously, his behavior through the entire novel escalates him to fuckboy over-achiever. He flirts with every woman he comes in contact with, believing that it is impossible for any woman to resist his charms and not fall in love with him (delusions of importance and attraction, fuckboy score: 1).

In fact, Henry decides to make Fanny fall in love with him simply because she DOESN’T seem attracted to him, undertaking to manipulate someone’s emotions for his own benefit and because, really, he thinks she’s hot and wants to have sex with her (fuckboy score: 2).

Plus there’s this whole scene:

MANS 1 TOTAL up

incredible

Then there’s the whole scene where Henry is angry and insulted when informed that, in fact, Miss Fanny Price does not find him all that attractive except in sort of a general objective way. (Fuckboy score 3)

After being thus insulted, Henry makes a point of it to turn everyone against Fanny and to criticize her for not caring about him when he’s possessing so many desirable qualities, making him…dare I say it?

mans 2 total up

classic “nice guy”

And the FINAL fuckboy move is when Henry decides to blame Fanny and her choice to reject him for all of the trouble he causes later on.

mans 3 total up

it’s her fault for saying no!

Henry Crawford is the quintessential fuckboy. Incredible.

This is a very important discovery and I hope to someday publish an academic paper on it. I already have a great title: “Male Entitlement: Fuckboys in Literature.”

There’s got to be other ones. I’m pretty sure I could nominate Frank Churchill as well.