On his blog Snakes and Ladders, Alan Jacobs quotes from Tony Tanner’s book, Jane Austen, a passage about the heroine of Mansfield Park, who is the opposite of an activist, in that she seems to do so little. But is she then inactive? Jacobs shares a good chunk of analysis that Tanner makes of one scene in Mansfield Park, which Jacobs thinks is “the single most brilliantly conceived and executed scene in all of Austen.”
Jacobs compares Austen’s Fanny Price to the character of Franz Jägerstätter in Terrence Malick’s new film, “A Hidden Life,” in the way that (quoting Tanner): “In her stillness she is not inactive: on the contrary, she is often holding on strenuously to standards and values which others all around her are thoughtlessly abandoning.”
I was very impressed by Mansfield Park when I read it a few years ago, but I missed the subtleties of the scene in the park when Fanny sits on a bench, while her friends are busy coming and going around her; you might like to go to Jacobs’ blog to read about it. It’s not long.
I’ve never read one of Alan Jacobs’ books, but I have read numerous essays by him and listened to him interviewed on a breadth of topics on the Mars Hill Audio Journal. He is always thought-provoking. I’ve also not seen “A Hidden Life” yet, but I surely am eager to. It’s likely that many of my readers have thoughts on the film, or the broad topic of quietness in the midst of noise, etc. As always, I love to hear them.
But if you prefer to remain silent, I can appreciate that, too. Jane Austen herself is quoted in the article as having asked a pertinent question,
“What is become of all the shyness in the world?”