Awesomeness from the Book:
- Fanny issuing one of the best proto-feminist speech in the English literature's history to Edmund, whom she only tried to spare and treat well while he didn't know about her feelings, being too focused on Mary Crawford. All of Austen's heroines vow to Marry for Love, but the Shrinking Violet Fanny gets the only explicit feminist speech in all of Austen when she insists on women's rights to use their own judgement and consider their own happiness, rather than automatically feel it their obligation to satisfy the desires of any man who chooses them. It's borderline radical given the marriage market at the time:
Edmund: That you could refuse such a man as Henry Crawford seems more than they can understand. I said what I could for you; but in good truth, as they stated the case — you must prove yourself to be in your senses as soon as you can by a different conduct; nothing else will satisfy them.Fanny: (after a pause of recollection and exertion) I should have thought that every woman must have felt the possibility of a man's not being approved, not being loved by some one of her sex at least, let him be ever so generally agreeable. Let him have all the perfections in the world, I think it ought not to be set down as certain that a man must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself. But, even supposing it is so, allowing Mr. Crawford to have all the claims which his sisters think he has, how was I to be prepared to meet him with any feeling answerable to his own? He took me wholly by surprise. I had not an idea that his behaviour to me before had any meaning; and surely I was not to be teaching myself to like him only because he was taking what seemed very idle notice of me. In my situation, it would have been the extreme of vanity to be forming expectations on Mr. Crawford. I am sure his sisters, rating him as they do, must have thought it so, supposing he had meant nothing. How, then, was I to be — to be in love with him the moment he said he was with me? How was I to have an attachment at his service, as soon as it was asked for? His sisters should consider me as well as him. The higher his deserts, the more improper for me ever to have thought of him. And, and — we think very differently of the nature of women, if they can imagine a woman so very soon capable of returning an affection as this seems to imply.
- The heroine Fanny Price, who has been pushed around and psychologically abused by the Bertrams and Mrs. Norris for years, finally stands up for herself and unequivocally refuses to marry Henry Crawford, against everyone's guilt trips and rationalizations that it's a perfect match. Those with a brain are eating their words later when Henry runs off with the now-married Maria Bertram-Rushworth. The confrontation with her uncle is particularly awesome not only because it parallels Elizabeth's refusal of Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice but because she has the double burden of keeping her love for Edmund a secret... and succeeds.
- Sir Thomas offers to break off his daughter Maria's incredibly beneficial engagement to a very rich man. Why? Because he can plainly see she does not love him.
Awesomeness from the Adaptations:
- In the 1999 film version, Edmund delivers a truly awesome "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Mary Crawford:
Edmund: Your keen adaptability to my brother's possible demise sends a chill through my heart. A chill. Happily planning parties with his money. You shush my father like a dog at your table, and then you attack Fanny for following her own infallible guide concerning matters of the heart. All of this leads me to believe that the person I've been so apt to dwell on for many months has been a figure of my own imagination; not you, Miss Crawford. I do not know you, and I'm sorry to say, I have no wish to.