I may have went to college to hone my skills as a writer, but being an English major means, there is a lot of literature classes that will be assigned to your future semesters. Reviewing and breaking down works of fiction done by others is a major part of the writing process. It is examples of why things work or don’t. The only real choice I had to make to make in my literature courses was to take British literature or American literature course. I went with British, because I was a massive Jane Austen fan.
Oddly, in none of my college or high school courses was I ever required to read any of her novels. That is extremely shocking, I know. I have to wonder if this is the reason why I chose Mansfield Park as my favorite. It was my first exposure, knowingly, and even more shocking, it was the movie at that. My fellow lit alums are probably scandalized by that confession, and understandably so. I say knowingly, because I had been watching the film version of Emma, repeatedly, before Mansfield Park graced the screens. The difference is that my twelve year-old mind never connected with the writer Jane Austen or that Emma was actually hers when I was watching it.
Mansfield Park was an adaption of another of Ms. Austen’s work onto the big screen. The character of Fanny Price just spoke to me. I related to her character in so many ways and still do. I fortunately didn’t have to be removed from my family and sent away to live with my cousins as a friend slash servant because my social status blurred the lines between propriety and family responsibility. I just grew up in a normal household with my normal family, so I had that going for me. Fanny’s situation aside still left this strong willed girl, whose head was filled with imagination. Unfortunately, she still had to be aware of her limitations. She was still expected to play by the rules of society. Society didn’t give her a whole lot of options, but she still had choices. Ignoring the whole “I’m in love with my cousin, Edmund!” thing, Fanny was in love with someone she was not supposed to ever consider because of her social status. She accepted that her love could never be, but she still held on to a tiny sliver of hope. This was more than most women in her time allowed themselves.
Fanny new her place and played by the rules. It didn’t mean that she didn’t look for loop holes or judged and chose by the consequences. Fanny’s uncle had such a high opinion of her when she grew to the age of marriage that he decided to have a coming out ball for her. Fanny may have been in love with Edmund, but she firmly didn’t want to be handed over to some man by her uncle like he was handing over the title to a car. She stuck to her beliefs regardless if that meant she would be forced to go back to poverty.
Fanny does get tempted to fall for the easy choice. She gets an offer of marriage from a man, a charming one at that, who represents everything that she doesn’t believe in. But does Mr. Crawford ever try to woo the poor girl. If I am honest I got a little wooed myself. Even with all of this, she does finally make the right decision in choosing her own beliefs and feelings. She knew she could never love him regardless of the type of man he was, but mainly due to her heart belonging to another. I think she would have chosen a life on her own than to ever settle making me respect her that much more.
This is why Mansfield Park struck such a cord within me. I have always felt like a girl that is aware of her place in the world, but is not willing to sacrifice that which truly makes me who I am in order to satisfy others. My love and devotion for Mansfield Park is understood and accepted, but for other Jane Austen fans, I usually get this response in return, “So Pride and Prejudice is a close second, then.” I am not saying that this is all true of the fandom, but Pride and Prejudice is usually expected to the favorite. If it isn’t, then the acceptance of a close personal bond with one of the other novels, with the exception of Northanger Abbey. That novel is usually considered a four letter word among the Austenites. Not that it is bad, just clearly not a favorite for Austen to have written let alone to read it. When I tell people that I actually prefer another of the novels above the beloved Pride and Prejudice as a second favorite, I get odds looks of disbelief. Even in such a fandom of unified enjoyment and respect, there is a hierarchy.
Persuasion is actually my second favorite, because I am a hopeless romantic and love the story in this novel. Stating this, however, does not diminish my love and feelings for Pride and Prejudice. For her time, Elizabeth Bennett was pretty radical. She was comfortable enough to not follow the social order and beat her own drum. Her sarcasm and wit is enough for any kind of inspiration. I just have my own loves and ways of loving when it comes to Jane Austen. You would not believe how many retellings and Jane Austen inspired novels I have read over the years because that is how much I love it.
For my fellow Austenites, I want to say this. It is okay to love any of the other five novels more than Elizabeth Bennett’s and Mr. Darcy’s romance. It’s okay. Hell, it’s even okay to love Northanger Abbey more. Honestly, if it wasn’t treated like a dirty secret, and I had gotten my hands on it when I was twelve, I probably would have been in love with it just as much as I love Mansfield Park.
Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful novel that is fun and provoking, but Austen was a great writer in general. This carried over to her other novels which were just as good. It wasn’t her first novel nor her last. The woman had a talent that I personally envy. I can only hope that I can write at least one thing as amazing as anything she has.
These are my preferences in order.
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
I must also take a moment to point out that while not all film adaptions are perfect representations of these novels, there are some decent ones.
I recommend the recent BBC adaptation of Emma. I fully believe that this is the best interpretation of any of her novels that has ever been made. They do take liberties at times, but I believe Jane Austen would have approved.
The 90’s BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth is always a favorite, but if you want something a little shorter. The last version with Keira Knightley and Michael Macfadyen is a pretty decent condensed version.
Also I think the 1999 version of Mansfield Park is fantastic.
J K Rowling has recently come out saying that she regrets having Ron and Hermione end up together. She believed that Harry and Hermione should have gotten married. Now for every Harry and Hermione shipper there is an astounding unified whoop and hooray. At this point it is a coulda, woulda, shoulda hope that cannot be taken back.
I like to fancy myself a writer. I certainly have not felt the joys of having anything published and can certainly not fathom the success that Ms. Rowling enjoys, but the regret for any writer is very much a real thing. There have been several stories that I have written that I wished I could change, especially after witnessing the productions of my plays at my old high school. Your work being presented to you in such a manner that is no longer confined to your mind can throw a lot of curves at you. New interpretations can bring to light that which was never conceived before. This is all part of the process.
Once something is presented one way, especially in such a public forum, changing anything is not only extremely complicated but not easily accepted by the masses. Writing may be something that is created by the writer, but once shared with an audience, ownership expands out to them as well. The audience may not be legally entitled to any kind of monetary rights, but they own their interpretations. Artists attempting to go back and change things or sharing their regrets never go over very well.
George Lucas is probably the most famous for attempting to fix or change his beloved work. The tweaks to his original trilogy were thought downright unholy by most of the fandom. The lack of appreciation for his prequels made Lucas slam the door shut on sequels that were proposed when Episode I began production. Lucas, unfortunately, took these harsh fan opinions very personally and scrapped the idea before finishing the prequel trilogy. Since selling the franchise to Disney, the sequels have been made real and are being put into production. The importance of this point? The majority of the fandom still feels the same about the about the entire franchise as they did back when the prequels were made. Now it just seems that Lucas has more confidence in his decisions regardless is the fans support him or not.
This is all to point out again that if you choose to make any kind of change or comments on a body of work that has already been shared with an audience of one or one million outside of your own mind, that audience is entitled to comment and feel about that same body of work in any manner that they please regardless if that opinion is the opposite of the creator. The voice of the audience is a powerful and persuasive tool. It can help change the path of a television show and even change the path of an upcoming sequel. It just cannot change that which has already been made. This is what brings me to Miss Ginevra Weasley.
Rowling’s sentiments of changing who Harry ended up marrying puts in to question the kind of girl he did end up marrying. This regret may have been due to a rumor where Steve Kloves, screenwriter for all of the Harry Potter films, turned to Ms. Rowling and questioned why Harry didn’t marry Hermione. This could be completely untrue, but even with her current second thoughts there is just too much built into the relationships of Hermione and Ron and of Harry and Ginny throughout the series that I am confused by her sudden remorse.
Ignoring the movies, because as amazing as they all are, they do not hold the detail that the pages of the books hold. If it is questioned as to why Harry would marry someone like Ginny with only the films as reference, then I could hold nothing against that. The film version of Ginny, and no I am not talking about the skills of the actress playing her, is pretty flat. I read an article about things J.K. Rowling got wrong, and Harry getting together with Ginny was one of them. The author felt that Ginny had no personality and could only be called nice. This author was even reminiscent of Cho Chang. This isn’t exactly a fair assessment of the redhead, unless you had only seen the films. The novel version of Miss Weasley is much more colorful. I would even say that she is all of the best qualities of her seven brothers all rolled up into one. She’s smart, funny, and feisty. Who doesn’t remember the Quidditch match scene where she purposely flew her broomstick at Zacharias Smith for making terrible remarks about the Gryffindor team?
Two of the things I most admired about Rowling’s writing in the Harry Potter novels is her ability to draw such rich characterization even from the tiniest of parts and her ability to foreshadow throughout the book and from book to book. Rowling just doesn’t make bland characters. The series is written from Harry’s perspective, and we are limited on what we see and what happens because of that. Ginny slowly becomes a part of Harry’s life a little more and more throughout each novel. I am not judging Rowling on her regret by disagreeing with her. I am however confused by this regret.
When I started on the Harry Potter train I had just finished watching the second film after it came out on video. I had friends that had tried to get me to read the books for years but I just never got around to it. That summer I finally decided to sit down and read the series. I binged my way through the first four, finishing only days before the fifth novel came out. I was immediately hooked then. I loved all of the characters and was probably a little more prone to the Weasley clan. The fact that Julie Walters played such and amazing Molly Weasley on the big screen didn’t hurt. I began to notice the youngest Weasley and would keep an eye out for her, especially after her role in the second novel. I started out sympathizing for the poor girl having to grow up and go through puberty with seven older brothers. The twins alone are enough to scare off anyone. Ginny was always there in the novels, and not just as a side note or a passing comment by her brother, Ron, to Harry. She was physically there and noticed by Harry, whether Harry felt it was important or not.
When the fifth novel came out, there was a scene in the hospital after Arthur Weasley was attacked. Harry was being very self-loathing and self-pitying as he was prone to do in this very angsty novel, when Ginny simply has enough and puts him in his place. That was the moment when I added two plus two. Putting together all of the other Harry Potter novels, along with the fifth, I knew that Ginny was going to end up with Harry. She had practically been groomed for him. Harry always wanted to be officially apart of the Wealey family the only other official way of doing this outside of adoption is through marriage. As much as Hermione and Ron have been with Harry through all of the trials and hardships, they could never fully grasp or understand the true evil and fear that was Voldemort. Ginny may not have come into direct contact with the older and more organized version of the Dark Lord, but she met the cunning and enigmatic and very evil teenage version of him, making her the only other person in the entire series that has any possible idea of how Harry feels and what he is going through. Hell, we knew more about Ginny’s boyfriends when she was dating them than we did about Malfoy’s goons. Don’t believe me? Go back and read about the Yule ball. There will be just a little too much information about what Ginny Weasley was doing, then there probably should have been when Harry was supposedly occupied with pining after Cho Chang. The knowledge we have about Michael Corner did mostly come from Ron, but it was there. A couple of talks about the boyfriend would have been enough to show Ron’s annoyance, but why would Rowling continue talking about it in such detail, if it weren’t important.
Hermione and Ron’s romantic relationship didn’t start to fully evolve until the fourth book, but the movies began to hint at that relationship earlier than that. As much as Harry was around Hermione, I don’t believe I ever saw any inkling of possible romantic feelings by Harry towards Hermione. The only time he really saw her as a true girl was when she got dressed up for the Yule Ball. His attention was however quickly diverted to Cho Chang when she arrived after.
I don’t see it. Rowling has clearly been one to say that she knows so much more about the world of Potter outside of the books. She even knew how the story would truly end when she wrote the first one. She may have never guessed what a fabulous on screen version of Hermione Emma Watson would bring to her world or the lack of use that Bonnie Wright’s character would see on screen when Rowling first started creating the Potter world, but the film franchise could have played a large part in her current thoughts. In the end, for an author who is known so well for her foreshadowing and characterization skills, Rowling certainly had to spend a lot of time planning and sorting out the path to have Hermione end up with Ron and Harry with Ginny. It is the only thing that makes sense to me, maybe not others. I feel it was certainly the path that I was intended to take.
Just let Ginny Weasley be and enjoy her much earned happiness with her husband. I personally wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of her bat bogey hexes, besides the fact that I’m sure she could kick any ass that said otherwise. She did survive seven older brother after all.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of guy superheroes that I get excited for. I am salivating as much as the next nerd for the new Captain America movie. I just personally believe that girls can kick ass as well as the next guy. I am a Buffy fan, so this should be no surprise. Allow me to showcase some of my favorites. Some you know, and some you may not.
1. Phoenix –
Whether she’s bad or whether she’s good, Jean Grey’s incarnation or should I say several incarnations of the Phoenix is definitely a wild card for any side that wants to have her in its back pocket. There are two main schools of thought concerning the Phoenix’s origin. The first one, Jean Grey is such a bad ass mutant, or level 5 as they call it, that the Phoenix is actually the name given to her full psychic abilities and persona which had been dampened for Jean’s safety as well as pretty much everyone else by Professor X. This was the version they leaned towards in in the third X-men movie, and honestly not my favorite. The second one is of the Phoenix as a cosmic entity that uses Jean Grey as a host, and has been known to use other characters as well, the most popular being Jean. Not only do her telekinetic and telepathic abilities increase astronomically, but she gains cosmic abilities that can effect anything in the universe at a subatomic level as well as manipulate life and death like she’s changing nail polish colors. Cosmic powers pretty much trump most in a fight, but Jean has to take a page out of the Hulk’s book otherwise she just might destroy the universe during her next tantrum. Did I mention she’s been known to eat stars when she’s feeling peckish?
2. Captain Marvel –
Carol Danvers has held many aliases over the years, her most notable being Ms. Marvel. Don’t let her name changes cloud the fact that she is one tough lady. She was formerly a pilot in the Air Force and worked as special ops for the branch after being captured and tortured during a flight test that crashed. When I say tortured, they beat the mess out of the poor woman. Injuries and all she managed to escape and deal out some payback. Why is this detail so important? This happened before she got superpowers. Ms. Marvel #32 is rough to read, but solidifies her as a badass. Due to an explosion of an alien Kree device, Carol is given powers. She can fly, has super strength, and can absorb energy, throwing it right back as a weapon. Unfortunately over the course of her life, she was kidnapped by the alien race, the Brood, tortured and experimented on turning her into the entity Binary. There was also that run-in with Rogue who held onto her just a little too long and permanently absorbed her powers and memories, leaving her in a coma. She eventually wakes up and regains her abilities, but not her memories. After all of that she fell victim to alcoholism, which honestly isn’t surprising with everything that’s happened to her. She did eventually sober up, and even had Tony Stark as her sponsor. She is currently flying under the name of Captain Marvel in honor of the original and deceased Captain Marvel. She once again becomes victim to amnesia due to her recent self-sacrifice to save New York and the world. She is definitely one awesome lady and one I hope to see on the big screen.
Jessica Drew has a couple of versions in the Marvel universe, but the most recent and well know version makes the original look like a girl scout. Jessica got her powers in the womb after her mother is exposed to an experiment on spiders. As a child, she begins displaying similar powers to the spider, such as the ability to climb up walls and an energy, venom blast coming from her hands. During a fight between her father and mother, Jessica blasts her father in order to save her mother, but the strain makes the child pass out, only to wake up from some kind of stasis as an older teenager in the welcome arms of HYDRA. She is manipulated by the organization and turned into a weapon. She eventually discovers the treachery and does a little soul searching before becoming an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. under Nick Fury, who has her become a double agent and sign up for HYDRA as well. I would say that she becomes and Avenger during this time also, but Jessica became the chosen form for the Skrull queen during their invasion of Earth because of her ties to both organizations. Jessica never made it past her recruitment of HYDRA being taken and help captive until her escape from the Skrulls along with several other heroes that were captured. She does fully join the Avengers team after her return becoming one of their most valuable characters.
4. Storm –
Growing up watching the X-Men cartoon, Storm was just the pure impersonation of class to me. Her ability to control the weather was unquestionably formidable, but it was her clear and level mind that was often the voice of reason for the team when Professor X was not around made me admire her. She did break at times losing her temper and control over her powers every once in a while. She could be rendered useless when her severe claustrophobia attacked. The woman has a past as well. She was homeless as a child and turned to thievery to survive. When her powers began to emerge, she was treated as a goddess with the tribe in Africa that she was staying with. All were major challenges that shaped the amazingly fierce and balanced woman that she became. As much as I loved Halle Berry playing her in the film, I just don’t think the movie really showcased this important side of her. She was always a wise asset and leader when needed. It was a shame that the film couldn’t show that.
5. Rogue –
I was an X-Men fan first due to the 90’s cartoon, and Rogue was the easy choice for my number five. I learned about her living with only her mutant power of absorbing others energies and life forces after the shows ending. At the time I never realized that Rogue didn’t always have Carol Danver’s strength and power of flight her whole life. I was too entertained by her sarcasm and southern charm as she mopped the floor with the bad guys to care. Now I know better, and though the movie version was not the Rogue I wanted, it was the version that is most common. You can’t help but empathize with her over the power she has been known to refer to as a curse on more than one occasion. She can’t touch anyone meaning she can’t have any kind of real or intimate relationship with anyone. Cuddling is high risk with her. Anytime a cure is mentioned, it’s no wonder she’s the first one to jump. Even though I was bummed to hear Anna Paquin’s scenes in the next X-Men film were dramatically cut. I was hoping that we would get a post Carol Danver’s version of Rogue, who is honestly a little handier in a fight. Alas, I guess I’ll just have to wait till the Blu-ray comes out to see those special features.
- All images are not owned by Geeky Girl's Guide to Life and were taken from Marvel.com