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|I used to agree with you. (longish)
Written by Julie P.
(7/10/2013 7:11 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, MP Movies, penned by RobinJ
I first read MP when I was 18 and I hated it. I skimmed through it again during a read of the Big 6 and didn't pay much attention to it. But then, I read it in anticipation of the release of MP2 and I just loved it.
One thing to remember is that MP is Austen's first "mature" book. She wrote the original drafts of S&S, P&P and NA before the age of 25 and had years to rework them. But MP was written in its entirety after she turned 30, and it has a much more serious tone than her earlier books do. So, by the way, do Emma and Persuasion, both of which were written after MP.
First off, there are some very funny bits in the book. Austen skewers Mrs. Norris and I find myself laughing out loud at her trademark snark. I can't imagine someone not finding these comments funny:
As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others; but her love of money was equal to her love of directing, and she knew quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends. From Chapter 1.
Under this infatuating principle, counteracted by no real affection for her sister, it was impossible for her to aim at more than the credit of projecting and arranging so expensive a charity; though perhaps she might so little know herself as to walk home to the Parsonage, after this conversation, in the happy belief of being the most liberal–minded sister and aunt in the world. Also from Chapter 1.
The Grants showing a disposition to be friendly and sociable, gave great satisfaction in the main among their new acquaintance. They had their faults, and Mrs. Norris soon found them out. From Chapter 3.
As for Fanny Price, I need to defend her. First off, remember her circumstances. She has been told from Day 1 that she's not as good as her cousins and that she's not entitled to the same "perqs" they are. She will never be a Miss Bertram and she should never expect to be treated as such. Add that to the fact that she's shy and reserved to begin with, and it's no surprise that she appears to be a doormat. But she's not. Not even close.
She refuses to marry Henry Crawford, despite the fact that her uncle is insisting upon it. She is risking everything she holds dear by standing up to Sir Thomas. He sends her back to Portsmouth to "teach her a lesson" but, in reality, it's Sir Thomas who learns the lessons and who changes for the better.
Fanny is an excellent judge of character. If she doesn't like or trust someone, that person deserves not to be liked or trusted. I would submit that Elizabeth Bennet, Miss "Light, bright and sparkling" herself, could learn a lot from Fanny Price.
Fanny is not the life of the party. She never will be. But that doesn't make her a doormat. I'm not saying she's someone I would want to hang out with, but I have a lot of respect for her. She'll make a good priest's wife. She's kind, she's patient, she's discreet and she's religious.
To sum up, I see MP as a book about appearance over substance, with substance winning in the end.
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