Posted by gkb on November 13, 1997 at 01:08:01:
In response to truly not a 'virtue'oso, written by Emily Anne on November 12, 1997 at 16:01:12
You seem to have a good point there, one that I did not recognize. It looks obvious to me that Fanny is not trying to be superior to anyone. She even leaves the room after Sir THomas orders the carriage for her first dinner visit because she did not want to give Mrs. Norris the impression of having been triumphed over! She has suffered so much from that whole system of who is superior to whom that she does not want to play the games. I don't think she has the physical energy to play the games. My friend Carolyn who died of Ehler's-Danlos SYndrome was a gentle, compassionate person like Fanny and she often said that it took too much energy to be angry about things.
But you are quite right, I believe in suspecting that people who dislike the character of Fanny Price are viewing her as a snippy, priggish holier-than-thou dominator--perhaps more of a projection from their own past than a perception of the author's creation. I think that Austen herself was a most sincere Christian who found strength and consolation in her faith. She perhaps had met many of the types of persons who want nothing more in life than to lord it over someone--anyone!--else, and she struggled in her heart to accord them the benefit of the doubt. To portray a young person who is heroic in her faith is one of the prime accomplishments in all of fiction. It seems to me that we are offered an opportunity to marvel in the skill and enjoy the gentle humor of the portrayal. When people abuse the character so roundly without taking the trouble to comprehend her situation, I am remined of a line in Sense and Sensibility: "...for when people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of anything better from them."
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