In the Jane Austen News last week, we mentioned that a Fanny Price vs. Mary Crawford debate would be taking place this week between two Austen-inspired novelists, Kyra Kramer and Lona Manning. The question up for discussion each day this week is different, and given the first two days of debate, there’s at least a week’s-worth of discussions to be had when it comes to Team Mary vs. Team Fanny.
On Monday the question was simply one of whose side are you on and why? Who was the real heroine and moral victor in Mansfield Park?
Kyra was definitely Team Mary:
“Fanny Price was a wet hen with all the vivacity of a damp dishcloth.”
“He [Edmund] spoke to Mary like she was filth, just because she had more mercy on Maria than he did. Even though Mary was willing to sacrifice her own brother’s happiness to save Edmund’s sister from ostracization, based on nothing more than Mary’s warm feelings for the Bertram family, he threw her offer back with excessive rudeness and condemnation.”
While Lona was quick to defend Fanny and retorted that Mary was using Fanny for her own ends:
“Fanny is an audience, not a confidante, for Mary.”
“I would argue that Mary is often insincere.”
Then, on Tuesday the question was – “Was Fanny Price sweetly timid, or a backstabbing brat?”
Lorna argued that Fanny had no choice but to show some reciprocal friendship for Mary, despite not feeling warmly towards her. “Given the difference in their ages, social situations and most importantly, the force of their personalities, how was Fanny going to look Mary Crawford in the eye and say, “no thanks, let’s not be friends”? What ought she have done?”
Kyra on the other hand thought that Fanny had no problem upsetting people’s expectations of her when she wanted to, and for that reason was more backstabbing than timid: “She was pressured by people she respected to wed Henry Crawford, too, but she found the wherewithal to refuse that. Agreeing to write Mary was above and beyond polite return visits, too. Letter writing was a serious business, and the Regency equivalent of pledging friendship (not mere acquaintanceship) between two young, unmarried women. If they had been older, married ladies then letters would have been less of a big deal. Fanny knew she was implying a friendship that simply wasn’t there.”
We’ll be sure to let you know in the next Jane Austen News post how the rest of the week of debates goes.
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Bath this year then you might have been to the Parade Gardens and seen Bath’s floral tribute to Jane Austen. Well, aside from being a sight to behold and a wonderful way to mark the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death, it’s also helped to win Bath an award!
It was announced at the South West in Bloom competition that Bath has been given a Gold award in the BID (Business Improvement District) category, but as well as this, Bath has won the Abbis Cup for the best municipal horticultural display for, you guessed it, the Jane Austen 3D bed in the Parade Gardens.
The large floral display has been in bloom all summer and has been a real eye-catching statement. Here’s how it progressed from the metal structure we saw at the start of the summer, through to the finished article – a book with the statement ‘Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?’ (a quote from Northanger Abbey), beside a copper quill and ink pot.
Not that it ever went out as such, but in the 90s and 00s it wasn’t so popular as it is now, or as popular as it was in Jane’s time. In Bath in the late 1790s/early 1800s tea was so popular (but so expensive) that the staff of the tea rooms at the Assembly Rooms used to use the tea leaves three times!
However, this week the Jane Austen News came across an article from Verily that confirms what we had been suspecting for a while: we’re loving our tea more than ever. Just look at these statistics:
- Tea is currently a $21 billion industry in the U.S.
- A recent poll found that, for under-thirties, coffee and tea are equally popular beverages.
- 85 percent of Millennials prefer to drink iced tea, which has resulted in a variety of cold tea products being sold.
- Since 1998, high-end restaurants such as the W Hotel in New York City began to train and hire tea sommeliers. Today, other establishments have followed suit by rolling out special tea pairings with their menu.
(Verily’s full run-down on our love of tea can be found here.)
We recently saw Warbutons do a send-up of Pride and Prejudice (with added elements of the film Ghost and Peter Kay’s previous shows thrown in for good measure), and now the latest parody of Pride and Prejudice sees Sophie Monk from Australia’s reality TV show The Bachelorette making eyes at Mr Darcy in doctored footage from the 1995 BBC adaptation. The advert has been released in the run-up to the show’s finale, which is due to air this Thursday.
Even if you don’t watch The Bachelorette, it might give you a good giggle.
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