Daily Archives: May 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

*-Delineates text from the original novel. Courtesy of Austen.com

This year, Janeites around the world will celebrate and debate the novel that is Mansfield Park, as they have done for 2 centuries.

Austen begins the novel with the introduction of the Ward sisters.

*-About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward’s match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible, Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a Lieutenant of Marines, without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly. 

The novel’s heroine, Fanny Price is the eldest daughter of the youngest Miss Ward. At the age of 10, she is taken from her family home to Mansfield Park, where she is raised. She is family, but not a daughter of the house and treated as such. Eight years later,  Henry and Mary Crawford walk into Mansfield Park and catch the eyes of Fanny’s cousins.

I won’t give the rest of the novel away if you haven’t read it.

Mansfield Park is her longest novel, the theme is not as clear cut as her other novels. It could be about slavery, it could be about following your own heart vs. society’s rules, it could be about appearances vs. reality. Fanny is not witty like Elizabeth Bennet, confident like Emma Woodhouse or sensible like Elinor Dashwood. She is meek, almost  a hypochondriac. She could be labelled by some as priggish. She is financially, the poorest of the Austen heroines and dependent on her aunt and uncle.

I wrote a while back about Fanny and how her good qualities are often overlooked. This year’s JASNA AGM is about Mansfield Park.  I expect that it will be a very interesting AGM.

Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

 

 

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Almost 20 Years And Still Going Strong

20 years ago, producer Glen Ballard and singer/songwriter Alanis Morisette sat down to collaborate on Jagged Little Pill.  It has since sold more than 33 million copies and is one of my favorite albums of all time.

This album is nothing short of cathartic and real. Right Through  You is about fake people and seeing them for who they really are. You Oughta Know is still perfect song for when your significant other has left you for someone else. Head Over Feet is about falling in love.  You Learn is about falling down and then picking yourself right back up. Perfect is when you feel like you are not meeting the expectations of your elders.

This album got me through my teenage years and still gets me through the rough spots of life.

Thank you, Alanis Morisette and Glen Ballard for this amazing album. Even after 19 years, it is still my go to album when the emotions are swirling around my psyche and I need to express myself.

 

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Orphan Black: The Best Show On TV That Your Not Watching (But Should)

Last year, BBC America introduced audiences to a new television series, Orphan Black and a new heroine, Sarah Manning.

Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) has a past. The first episode of last season, Sarah gets off a train to see another woman, Beth Childs, on the other side of the platform.  Beth and Sarah are mirror images of each other. Within a few moments, Beth jumps into an oncoming train, taking her own life. Looking for a quick buck, Sarah attempts to infiltrates herself into Beth’s life. She soon learns that she is one of several clones. There is Cosima, the lesbian, dreadlocked scientist, Alison, the type A suburban housewife and Helena, raised in a religious cult.

Adding to Sarah’s troubles is that her daughter, Kira (Skylar Wexler)  is being raised by her foster mother, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy).Her foster brother, Felix (Jordan Gravais) who is her closest companion.

Maslany is nothing short of a phenom. She plays every clone as if they were played by individual actresses, instead of played by one actress. Every clone has her own history, her own way of speaking, her own point of view.   Gravais plays Felix as a fantasy/sci-fi sexually ambiguous, sassy Jack McFarland type. Wexler is adorable as Sarah’s innocent, but aware daughter. Doyle Kennedy, known to Downton Abbey fan as Vera Bates, is both maternal and mysterious.

I’m not one to stay home on Saturday nights just for a TV show, but this show is an exception to the rule.

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