Quite possibly, the most hated
person in all literature
. The heroine
of Jane Austen
's Mansfield Park
, but so unlike her other heroines that she attracts an enormous amount of heat, on both sides, for and against.
This is not the place to enter into a catalogue of abuse, but think of Jane Austen enthusiasts, a quiet, studious, mousy, tea-and-madeira-cake brigade, yes? Now imagine violent religious wars sweeping through their mailing lists, and their FAQ being marked Danger! Warning! with yellow and red striped gifs and nuclear waste symbols when it mentions Fanny Price. Discussion of her character is more or less off limits on sites such as the "Republic of Pemberley".
Let me quote my own revised node on Mansfield Park for the basic reasons she is controversial. And although I am clearly on one side of the controversy, TheLady's analysis in that node is a very good and convincing argument on the other side:
Now we come to the difficulty, which is that Fanny Price is a quite enormous prig. Most modern readers, most readers of the twentieth century at least, have found her utterly horrible. She is so superior, and inflexible, and intransigent, while hiding it under a self-deprecating mousy facade that makes you want to shake her. Can she possibly have been seen as a good sort of heroine back in Jane Austen's day? But we react in the right way to all the other characters in her novels; the depictions of an Anne Elliot or a Jane Fairfax are touchingly true, and we see the mousy type mocked in the dull and prosy Mary Bennet. So we can't be missing anything, I think: and we have to conclude that Jane Austen wrote her that way, and meant her to be taken as unlikable, even though she was the heroine, and morally in the right, and gained the love of the good man in the end.
A new film by Patricia Rozema
makes her super-sexy by basing her (played by Frances O'Connor
), on Jane Austen herself! This is a radical reinterpretation
by a radical director.