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Thursday, October 21, 2010
Name: Fanny Price
Hobbies: Reading, riding, and occasional stargazing.
Most charming quality: The gentleness of her nature.
Most detrimental tendency: The gentleness of her nature.
Greatest strength: Impeccable morality.
Truest friend: William Price
Worst Enemy: Aunt Norris
Prospects: Rather vague. As Sir Thomas Bertram's niece and ward, she must have some security, but all he ever says on the subject is as follows: "... we must secure to the child, or consider ourselves engaged to secure to her hereafter, as circumstances may arise, the provision of a gentlewoman, if no such establishment should offer as you are so sanguine in expecting."
Favorite quotations: "Cut down an avenue! What a pity! Does it not make you think of Cowper? 'Ye fallen avenues, once more I mourn your fate unmerited.' "
"Perhaps, sir," said Fanny, wearied at last into speaking--"perhaps, sir, I thought it was a pity you did not always know yourself as well as you seemed to do at that moment."
"How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time, and the changes of the human mind!" And following the latter train of thought, she soon afterwards added: "If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out."
"I had not, Miss Crawford, been an inattentive observer of what was passing between him and some part of this family in the summer and autumn. I was quiet, but I was not blind."
"Here's harmony!" said she; "here's repose! Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here's what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene."
"We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be."
I am going to be quite harsh here, because I think it warranted: when lovers of Austen censure Fanny Price, they are acting exactly like Mrs. Norris. That's right. Your eyes do not deceive you. Cruel, misguided Aunt Norris. If you wish to overcome such harsh criticism, then please, dear Janeites, try to muster a little sympathy for Fanny. If you were a shy, affectionate little girl, taken from your home, treated as a second class citizen, and deprived of the solicitude that everyone craves, would you not grow up to be humble and diffident? And in such a state, when confronted with a situation that offends your basic morality, while all those around you urge you to act in a manner that you know to be wrong, would you have the courage to resist? I admire Fanny Price, as did Austen, who refers to her as "My Fanny", a possessive and affectionate appellation that she never attaches to any of her other heroines. Sequels and reimaginings might alter Fanny to suit the author's whim, while films portray her as something totally unrecognizable from the book, but I think she is delightful just as she is, and what Austen approved is more than good enough for me.