Our Mutual Friend

Our Mutual Friend

I can’t believe the entire movie was about stalking. Everyone stalked. In fact, it seems that the only form of love before marriage is stalking.

I never really figured out why it was called "our mutual friend" other than the serendipitous relations between all of the characters, which makes every Dickens novel "our mutual friend" and, in fact, Heroes, and every Guy Ritchie movie about stealing.

Our Mutual Friend follows a handful of couples that have to deal with stalking, deceit, and the social divide. There is a large fortune, a will in question, poor people rising up to take on riches poorly, and rich people who fall to poverty. Pretty much Dickens 101. The main character is John Roaksmith (played by the eelish Steven Mackintosh), who is heir to a large fortune on condition that he marries someone he never met. He unfortunately loses his identity when a man looking much like him is declared dead. He decides to use this opportunity to spy on his future wife, and bides his time as a clerk while deciding when to take back his fortune.

You know that part in Romantic Comedies where the guy tricks the girl as some form of test, or he lies or he continues some deception. In the end she loves him and he does some sweeping gesture, and you end up going, "aww….. Wait, wasn’t that a dick thing to do?" Like in You Got Mail, Tom Hanks all "suprise! I knew all along!" And Meg Ryan tearfully replies "I wished it was you. I wished it was you." I would probably react with hitting him over the head again and again, yelling "WHY DIDN’T YOU FUCKING TELL ME?!?!" I can’t really watch rom coms like that anymore, because endings like those always have an adverse affect on me. Sure they are together now because of the act, but doesn’t it show him to be a less deserving person, ultimately cowardly and deceptive?

Cowardly. Cowardly was on my mind the entire way through because Roaksmith’s deception was so much worse than a Rom Com. From the beginning, he should of owned up to his identity. Hiding to spy on a girl is sneaky. And then he lives with the poor people who are becoming accustomed to his wealth that was left to them. Sneaky, again. Then he falls in love with the girl, and still he wavers. People will be hurt by this decision to prolong it, John. You should own up to it now. It’s the honorable thing to do. But it goes way farther than that. Does he tell her when he wins her heart? No. When they get married? No. Now you are just being cruel. The poor people have shown that they are affected by their new wealth, so letting them keep it any longer would be a crime against them. Still no. The only reason he tells the truth is because he gets involuntarily "outed" by another guy. Bad form. When it’s all revealed, we find out that the poor people were pretending to be affected, in on this game to win over the girl’s heart to John. When I got to that part, I was surprised. I went:

*blink blink* "So, ALL of you are bitches."

She takes the information that she has been connived and deceived into a love for the man she is bound to forever by everyone she holds dear considerably calmly. I find his conduct incredibly dishonorable. Lying was a big thing back then, and he lies big time, lies to everyone’s disadvantage, lies far past the point he needs to, and we all just calmly accept it? After so long, there’s no moral reason why you would keep a secret so extensively. After a while it just becomes cowardice.

I don’t find that main guy attractive at all. He’s small and smarmy, and he doesn’t seem to have any emotion. He was funny in Lock Stock, and okay in the Underworld movies. But in this one, he’s so serious and reserved, I don’t believe anything that he says. And then when he shows emotion, I don’t believe that. I was hoping for a Dexter-like pay off (emotions are so good because he shows them so rarely) but I ended up just wondering if it was another game.

And then there was the love triangle. Clearly, this situation is saying that it’s only stalking when you are poor and you do it badly. I have never been attracted to David "Kicked Puppy" Morrissey, but I never knew how not attracted to him I could be. At first glance he’s all pale and chubby, which sets off his ugly nose in an unattractive light. And then he starts coughing and shaking, and screaming, and he’s pretty much gone. I will never think of him as "Poor man’s Liam Neeson" again, though I don’t find Neeson particularly attractive either.

The other suitor, Paul McGann, is related to an interesting coincidence I had a little while ago. I was watching The Grand (fanTASTic show) and the main guy Bad Brother looked so freaking familiar. I couldn’t figure it out; as cool as he was on The Grand, I kept on mentally seeing him scream in a high pitched voice with ugly, long red hair. It took me so long to figure it out: turns out he’s the older brother of Paul McGann, both of them looking so similar that I mistook the older brother for the younger one. And Paul was in Three Musketeers. You remember that weird guy D’ Artangnan fought at the beginning who screams "D’ArtanGNAN!" in a very unattractive way? That’s him. Yeesh. I was so amazed. Smooth, quiet, small Eugene Wrayburn with the silky voice is that guy? These McGann brothers, who make me think I’m not attracted to them, and then seduce me to the point where I kind of am. Paul has a mustache just this side of ridiculous, but it brings out his eyes, which are a startling blue. He also has windswept, Edward Cullen-like hair, strange for the time. I spent a lot of time going, "maybe… but altogether too much hair."

Paul and David are both infatuated with the same girl who is dirt poor and way below both of them. If you didn’t think stalking was part of the story before, David proves it by being so crazy and so unlikeable and so follow-y that you can only label him as stalker. I don’t sympathize with either man (I don’t sympathize with any man in this show), but I like how Eugene Wrayburn goades David’s character. Eugene is a rich gentlemen eternally bored, and Bradley Headstone is a poor tudor, obsessed with the idea that Eugene is reason the girl they both like rejected him. Bradley follows Eugene everywhere, and Eugene decides to make a game of it because he’s bored. He takes Bradley all over town, makes him think he’s lost him, drives him nuts, then passes him without saying a word as if he didn’t even notice him there. Fantastic. Also, good idea of goading a crazy person.

I’ve been watching too many books written by women. With North and South, and Austen always in the back of my mind, I can’t help but look at the men in this show and be disgusted by them. They don’t do anything.  They don’t prove their love, show themselves to be good people, do anything other than watch, expostulate their love, and then get angry when the woman does the completely sensible "WTF?" There is clear disfunction in the way that love is handled in this era. Apparently, love is some one-sided fever closely related to lust, that is supposed to be kept silent till it builds and builds and then just has to be let out. Of course the woman doesn’t love him then, because when was she supposed to find out? Why does a woman’s first inkling of love have to be when the man proposes marriage?

I’m a true Janeite when I say that love is all very good, but what bothers me most is that no one proves themselves to be "good people." There’s no communication of that kind, and, in fact, I don’t think they are. Not men, at least, in Dickens’ world. The movie ended and I wasn’t sure if anyone showed themself to be other than a truely selfish being. I wouldn’t settle for marriage until I saw something of compassion in the other person. I resent the fact that a man has to be hit over the head and almost drowned in the river before he can come anywhere near good.

That’s why Austen and North and South are so refreshing. They show truely able men, who are trying to be good, and doing somethiing about it. They aren’t saints, sure, but they show some semblence of compassion and seem to want to show more. They are also physically able, they do stuff. Yay for actually doing other things than sitting on your ass. The nerve of these men, who spend a month looking at you strangely and then drop this bombshell of "oh by the way I love you" on you, then rage when you refuse them. What have you done to show me I could like you any way? Am I supposed to just accept the proposal, not knowing what kind of man you are or even if I like you? Talking to me every once in a while would be a good start, though I also wouldn’t turn down a sweeping gesture of a concrete act that accurately portrays your ability to be compassionate and your devotion to me. Those are nice. I’ve got a sister who’s a hussy….

Acceptable gifts from eligible men: another Austen post

Acceptable gifts from eligible men: flowers, candy, extravagant bribes towards marrying cads to hussy sisters so as to save you from social and economical ruin…

I recently got to that part in Gone With the Wind (the book), where  Scarlett gets that beautiful green plume bonnet from Rhett and remembers Ellen saying, “now, you can only accept flowers and chocolates and other small things. Nothing that would tarnish your reputation as a lady.” Pragmatic Scarlett doesn’t understand the idea of obligation, and even thinks a few kisses for a pretty little present is a hell of a deal. I never really understood it myself. They give you a box of candy, and suddenly they own you? That’s ridiculous. My first reaction is to say, “men would never impose on women that way.” Oh, naïve first reaction me. When I don’t find wisdom enough in my own silly head, I find it in movies. Second reaction always brings up crotchety, prostitute mother of Marnie, and her story of Marnie’s conception, ending, “well, I got that nice letterman’s jacket.” First reaction me is suitably chastised.

Understandably, obligation comes up a lot in Jane Austen. In Mansfield Park, when Fanny mistakenly wears the cast-off, lousy gold necklace that happened to be given to Ms. Crawford from Mr.  Crawford, Mr. Crawford looks at Fanny like he owns her.  He didn’t even buy the thing for her, and suddenly, he’s not just giving her a stare that means, “you owe me a favor, and that favor might have to be sex,” but he looks her up and down like valued property. Even a compliment, when paid to you, can be considered your debt. Ever notice “I’m much obliged”? As in, “I owe you.” Hell, when a man pays his addresses to a lady, she will feel so obliged by his “condescension” in wanting to marry her, she would usually marry him. Clearly this is not a time where flowers and candy are permitted.

With this in mind, I reread Pride and Prejudice recently…  or, at least, a bastardization of P&P. Every time I get to that part where Mr. Bennet says, “what could I do to repay him?”—meaning repaying his brother for bribing Wickham, when we all know that Darcy did everything— I picture him gleefully pushing Elizabeth in Darcy’s direction saying, “how to repay you? How about a lovely daughter? I’ve got tons!” Every party would find that a suitable exchange, though I think Elizabeth is a little bewildered.

But it dawned on me on the last reading that it’s not the dad that needs to repay him. When Elizabeth thanks him, Darcy says that he was not thinking of his family but ONLY ELIZABETH when he did that huge, daring, selfless, and extremely obliging deed. So suddenly the debt falls completely to her. She was already feeling grateful; now it’s downright oppressing. How could she ever say no to him now? Darcy, as sweet as you are, that was kind of a dick move.

That gift is heavy load indeed. It’s not like a string of pearls that are just expensive; making Wickham marry Lydia saves Elizabeth and her family in so many ways: economically, socially, down to the very welfare of Lydia and her sisters. It sucks that Lydia has to live with Wickham, but it could be worse: she could never be found, cast off, dead. Of course Darcy would give such a gift; such a serious gift from a serious man, a gift that changes everything around them. He thinks of it in terms of righting his own wrongs, improving his character, fixes it all, and then washes his hands of the whole thing. But what about Elizabeth?

Thank God Darcy now seems to care what others think, though it cost the emasculation of every man Elizabeth is connected with—Mr. Gardiner, her father for not being allowed to pay Wickham—and now Elizabeth is what?

She cannot not accept the gift. It was done without her knowledge (placing a huge obligation upon an unsuspecting party— again, kind of dick move), but it’s also a matter of survival. This is not a “ohh, now I feel happier” gift, it’s a “well, now I can survive.” So thanks, Darcy, for giving the gift of life.

It makes one feel like when the book ends, Darcy slaps his hands together and says “lesson learned!” But I think someone says somewhere in the book, “how is such a debt ever to be repaid?” Guess what, Elizabeth, it can’t be. Obviously you can’t use money, and becoming his loving wife for him to cherish and hold forever is a start, but is that enough?  Marriage in itself is some other kind of exchange: you give them sex (…and love, and sons, and house management or whatever), and they agree to put you up for the rest of their life. That’s the deal. And even if marriage to him covers the physical and economical strain it put on Darcy to do the deed, does it also cover his selflessness, his morality that succeeded over all inclinations towards family and birthright, his dedication to Elizabeth? Can she answer that with a yes, and not be lying to herself?

You know that question of “morality” that Austen scholars so love to include? You can tie that in, too, with the fact that the very way Darcy accomplishes his deed makes the obligation so implacable. He not only fixes Elizabeth’s problems but with such selfish, noble motivation that Elizabeth can’t even pretend she doesn’t owe him big time. His goodness makes her punishment more severe. Not to mention all the stock she put into thinking him cold and self and unfeeling— can anyone say “proven wrong”? Darcy learns that his actions don’t meet his lofty thoughts. Elizabeth learns that she IS prideful (she never really knew before), and just keeps paying and paying.

It’s funny to me that though all of them end with long promises of happiness and passels of fat babies on all sides, I usually ask myself who ended up worst when reading a Austen novel. It reminds me of Greek Tragedy class, when we talked about how the people who died in a Greek tragedy might actually have been better off than the people who survived. In both tragedies and Austen novels, I ponder who got the better deal.

Who do you think got the better deal?

Mansfield Park 1983

I watched the 1983 miniseries of Mansfield Park at work. Which is pretty extensive because it is 6 parts, all an hour. It’s pretty good in the way that it is almost exactly the book. Noteworthy moments: Edmund looks kind of strange. Fanny is pretty ugly. And Mr. Crawford! Woo! Uber-gay. This was 1983 England, so I suppose they allow gay men to play straight parts still. Doubly true if it’s a period piece. But man, that guy was extra gay. His only other part, says IMDB, was in an Oscar Wilde biography. I don’t really like the implications of this man playing Crawford; Crawford isn’t necessarily a fop. But he was alright.

Mostly, though, it just reminded me of all the good times in the book that are too subtle and ignisignificant to put in the movie. Like the hilarious part where Thomas, the first son of the guy who owns Mansfield, decides to hold a private play (way bad idea) while his father is away. There’s this totally relatable moment when the father comes home. They all freak out, like they broke their mother’s vase, and then Thom does this instant change. He’s suddenly sly, non-chalant; he convinces his father that everything’s alright. They all breathe a sigh of relief until the father goes to his study and finds the entire stage displayed, and some jackass friend of Thom’s in the middle of his monologue. In true British style, the father politely asks the stranger, "what are you doing here?" It’s hilarious.

Also, Edmund is going to live in a small parish when he becomes a clergyman, and the woman he likes, Ms. Crawford, just HATES that he will be poor and comely and clergyman like. So Mr. Crawford rides over to the parrish Edmund will have, and when he comes back, he talks about all the changes Edmund will need to make in order to make the house respectable. "It’s not that bad," he says, "you just need to move the entryway, plow down that hill, move the garden to the other side," etc etc, in perfect hearing of his sister. Mr. Crawford MUST know that his sister hates the idea of being poor, of being a clergyman’s wife, and would just HATE to hear how bad the house is. He’s totally teasing her in a very cruel brotherly way.

Not to mention the fact that one of the reasons it was suggested that Fanny goes back to her mother was to see her brother dressed in his new Left Tenant uniform. Someone (I think Edmund) mentions that she should see it while it’s new and shiny, and not when it gets dirty and old and is worn much longer than it should, when he watches everyone else rise around him. How sad! the only reason he was promoted was because of Crawford’s intervention, and he most likely never will be promoted again. And they mention this so casually!

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

That is a title of a book, by the way. Mom bought it for me as a joke, and since I have been reading heavy stuff about morality and god, the gothic south, and governesses, I thought that I’d read this modern piece of fluff, just for a change in pace.

Premise: Modern day working-girl LA woman Courtney is suddenly and inexplicably transported back to 1813 England and into the body of a 30 year old daughter of a gentleman. She has no idea how she got there, who she is, or whats going on, and finds herself in the middle a Jane Austen-ish love story.

Surprise! I have a lot of complain about with this book. I’m sure you didn’t see that coming. I will limit my comments to one complaint and one compliment, just to make things easier.

Complaint: Whiny Post-Modern Girl Mode.
While the idea is novel (really novel; not many are brave enough to take on a time and situation where the only downsides are the mundane oppression of women, and flat out boredom), and it hits right at the core of the most popular question about classical literature — can the classics be applied to the modern day?– I have to say that I just wished to kick that stupid ass Modern Chick out of my period piece novel. And this girl was in full-on chick-lit mode: first person, over thinking, crass, sarcastic, extra whiny, and always down on herself. It was Bridget Jones without as much of the humor, the good parts, and adorable Darcy. To me, this doesn’t seem like an improvement. Just imagine what would happen to the world renowned Pride and Prejudice if Elizabeth stopped every five minutes and said, "too bad I’m too fat and I’ll never get laid." Elizabeth is awesome specifically because she is so fucking sure of herself, too sure of herself we find in the end. No one complains in Austen novels–it’s really great. Fanny gets stepped on, Anne ignored, Elizabeth jilted, Eleanor forgotten, Emma is worshipped far too heavily, and yet none of them suffer from the wavering insecurity that so many modern female heroines possess. Perhaps I pick this genre because women, oppressed though they are, are at least someone to look up to. You won’t catch hints that Anne Elliot needs to sleep with a man "just to feel loved". Add in the middle-class bigot idealist observations she makes about the working class, blood letting and the oppression of women (oh, that old ball and chain), and now I’m bored. Where’s a good Regency novel when you need one?

Compliment: Cliff Hangers galore.
The dialogue gets a little sketchy. Sometimes I had to tell her that no one, not even in the 19th century, says "pray" at the end of their sentence. But she did something right. Every chapter ended with a little cliff hanger  "yes, I have found that blood letting is not easy, but who is this new man Edgeworth?" dun dun dun. Next chapter. It was particularly interesting because the past life in LA was never introduced. She just mentions it in snippets along the way, little clues to put together. Plus the character knows nothing about the life she is thrown into, so it’s extra mystery clue session. It’s different than what you would expect, and a good storytelling strategy. Whenever I tried to decide which story bothered me more, we switched to the other one.

And of course, I loved the squishy romance drama. I kind of missed the Jane Austen romance, though. Some people think that Austen novels must have touchy feely guys pouring out their souls in fluent and archaic English. In this one the main man even expelled a single tear. But in Austen, it is not this way. Austen loves uncontrolled bursts of passion: that’s the way to gage they are a good human, and that is the manly way talk about emotion. So usually, the men in Jane Austen make love much less by, say, reciting a poem than by running up to the heroine, yelling "BLURGH-I-Loveyou!" in their face, throwing a quickly squibbled note in their direction and quickly exiting with nothing more than a "begyourpardon ihavetogo." It’s like hit-and-run romance. Those poor women are just blindsided.

Also, the main character met Austen, which was, at the very least, extremely uncomfortable. Austen is apparently a lot hotter than the preliminary sketch we have of her, 33 though she wasat this time. And conveniently, the character meets her before Austen gets her debilitating disease four years later.

Mansfield Park

I actually finished Mansfield Park a while ago. I wait a little to let it stew, and then I forget about it.

So, I finally read the novel. Mansfield Park was the last complete Jane Austen that I haven’t read, and, let me tell you, I was apprehensive about it. I had seen the movie and wasn’t impressed—I hate those stories that center around people that love people that are too stupid to recognize the other one’s merits. I’ve also heard that Mansfield Park was Austen’s most "serious" novel, whatever the hell that means. I wasn’t ready for just how surprised I was.

Let me first start by saying NEVER TRUST that new movie Mansfield Park. I had my expectations from that movie, and let me tell you, I was blown away about how different they are. The one part I liked in that horrible movie "Jane Austen Book Club" was when that weird girl stands in line for this movie, and blubbers, "this isn’t a good adaptation! They transferred the smart tone of the narrator into Fanny, and they added the whole slavery thing." I think the point is that she’s crazy, but I can only agree. I think if Jane Austen were to see that movie she would say, "That is not Fanny, that is not me, and I’m a little insulted that you would suggest that of either of us." What they did to Fanny was Desperate Attempt to Make Her Likeable to Modern Day audience. I was incredibly surprised about Fanny’s true character in the novel. She is wholly fragile, sensitive, kind, a freaking mat for the Bertram to wipe their boots on. And they do it. And she’s stepped on and she doesn’t even notice. This is not a modern day heroine.

So what does the movie do? They make Fanny a "writer." She becomes crass and clever, with true aspirations to one day be published. Which doesn’t work at all because why the hell does she put up with what she does when she has a mind of her own? Clearly, the screenwriter was taking cues from Jane Austen’s life. Jane Austen, who was crass and clever and wanted to be writer and NEVER GOT MARRIED. You see how well that worked out for her. They even put in that part of Jane Austen’s life where she said yes one day and then broke of the engagement the next. No no no no no. Besides the fact that they are completely missing the point of Fanny as a character, Jane Austen would be insulted to see her life romanticized in a such a way. Obviously, she wrote about Fanny because how her ways were NOT acceptable, and every book she ever written is about how to accept social rules, not fight against them.

The most interesting thing about Fanny in the novel is that I’m not sure if she is even supposed to be likable. I can’t quite decide how much independent people were revered at that time. Hell, even Pamela, written by a man, and completely dependent on her father, showed more of a backbone than Fanny throughout most of the novel.  The real zinger comes when you find out that Fanny, after about 300 pages of accepting neglect and discrimination, is the only one that actually has principles. And sticks to them, by God.

No one, in fact, is likeable in this entire goddamned book. Don’t get me wrong; it is magnificent for it. Once you get used to the fact that they are all cacicatures of the Mrs. Bennet variety, you start to relax and wonderful things start happening. The theme is set (god I love Austen for having themes) when the Crawfords talk about marriage. One of them mentions that once you start to like someone, you believe what you want to believe, and then only find out your mistake in marriage. The theme expands and touches everyone in the novel, none more so than Miss Crawford and Edmund. They are so wrong for eachother you want to scream, and yet they spend the entire novel trying desperately to get together.

The first few chapters are a farce of neglect and selfishness. The rich ones don’t care about anything but themselves, and Fanny suffers from a kind of neglect that leaves living in cupboards under stairs to shame. Then, a catalyst is brought in: the Crawfords. Jaded, street savvy city folk, they roll into Mansfield Park like a pair of conmen, and take everyone by storm. You realize just how defenseless these country folk are. No one is left unscarred. Even Edmund, the one that actually has some principles, is left in the wake of Miss Crawford’s arts, and shows his true colors as just as brainless and selfish as the rest of them.

And what about Edmund? In the movie he is horrid: pasty, pouty, pushover John Lee Miller. I never liked that guy anyway. In the movie it’s obvious he was being led by his dick, and what the hell was sassy Fanny about, liking him anyway? I so suprised to find the differences between the two Edmunds. It is true that Edmund is compassionate, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a man (rather than a little boy). Serious and thoughtful, Edmund turned out to be more like Darcy in the novel than the Emo kid on the screen. Also, lets not confuse his compassion for Fanny as softness: he is acting the part of parishoner. He has no more feeling for her than he would a strange peasant. Fanny is his flock, and he treats her so almost to the end.

But is he likeable? If this question means does he have any redeeming qualities, the answer is no. He shows himself to be easily blinded very early on. But then again, no one is likeable. If anything, this novel shows that you can feel for people don’t respect, or, at the very least, pity.

As all good ideas go, the theme is expanded and transformed into something else entirely. The plot thickens when the two annoying sisters finally leave and Mr. Crawford turns to Fanny out of boredom, and sport. A veteran cad, you watch his attentions start to grow, and then you go, oh dear god. Fanny will not live through this. And then, sudden backbone. It’s amazing. It comes out with spikes. Miss Crawford turns into little less than a pimp for her brother, and Fanny is friendless. She survives.

The novel is at its best when something that’s going on makes you realize something completely opposite. This is prett common course for Austen, but the examples here are just extreme. One of my favorite parts is when Edmund is telling Fanny "I hope Miss Crawford will like my father. I know she will. He is a little standoffish, but she will understand his demeanor and become fast friends in no time." You realize several things at once. Besides knowing that Edmund is an IDIOT to think Miss Crawford will ever like such a man, you realize two things: a) that Edmund actually likes his jackass of a father and b) that he thinks himself like his father. He wants to be just like daddy, the same father who gets a moral smack down at the end for his constant neglect and improper care for his children. The one in the family who, out of all of them, mistakes his principles for truth, and doesn’t let anyone say an ugly thing about it. He’s the most pigheaded of them all, and Edmund reveres him? Thinks himself like him? Wooof.

Mansfield is awesome, but a different breed of novel from Jane Austen’s others. It is almost completely moral–no delightful work at heartstrings like in Pride and Prejudice. The end you see just how moral it is. Everyone gets their comeuppence. Lord Bertrum, the one who started this mess, who raised his children horribly, was the most smack-downest of them all.

But maybe my view of Lord Bertrum was colored by the incredibly sketchy portrayal of him in the movie. Man, he is a snake in that. He’s about as subtle as jackhammer. Especially with that whole slavery thing.

I’m sick of one thing. Let me tell you straight. AUSTEN DOES NOT HAVE A WORLD VIEW. She never goes outside the realm of women, never farther than her own backyard. Things like commerce, slavery, economy, politics: that, my friends, is "man stuff." She doesn’ t deal with that. These Americans these days. Always scratching for some kind of higher principle in Austen’s work. We’re so self-involved in our own transgressions; we think that Austen couldn’t POSSIBLY not cared about the injustice of slavery.  Oh, please. You know what’s in the book? Fanny asks Lord Bertrum about the slave trade Bertrum’s doing out of politeness, out of mild curiosity, in a cute little woman way that  means she actually has no ability to understand it. The subject is dropped. That’s it. No dwelling on injustice, no older son being driven insane by the horrible treatment of the slaves. Melodramatic poppycock.

If you’re looking for social commentary, you don’t have to make it up. When Fanny moves to her mothers house, it’s horrible. The walls are close and thin, the children loud. It makes you feel claustrophobic just reading it. This is not a "and poor people suck" type of commentary.  The point is there is just as much neglect going on in the poor has than there is in Mansfield Park. She hits a kind of Great Expectations mid-ground where nothing satisfies her. At least there was Edmund at Mansfield.