Anna Karenina Made Me View Maria Bertram-Rushworth and Mary Crawford Differently

So my second year in college I took a history class, History 202-16th Century to Modern times, with a Professor O’Malley. Professor O’Malley loved Russian history, and that was his forté, so we spent a lot of class discussing Russia, reading Russian novels, and watched a Russian film.

Hmm…

One thing Professor O’Malley would say is that (and I’m paraphrasing)

“Russian stories are not like Jane Austen. They all end sadly. Austen would have figured out a way to make it be happily-ever-after.”

Now whether or not you or I agree with that statement (feel free to comment below what you think about it)-two things have always stuck with mew. 1) Professor O’Malley either read or watched an Austen book or movie (or read about her work) and 2) every time I read or watch a Russian novel or film-I always think is this like Jane Austen or the opposite of her?

Hmmm…

I have never read the book Anna Karenina, but it is on my to-read list. I haven’t gotten to it yet because it is a gigantic book and I know that with the Russian literature the characters use multiple names, so confusing, so I’ve just stalled from it.

I have always wanted to see the film though-the 1948 Vivian Leigh one. I cannot stand Keira Knightley and will avoid her films as much as possible because I think she is a horrible actor.

As an actress not a person.

So even though Mr. O’Malley didn’t think that Russian literature had anything to do with Jane Austen-when I was watching Anna Karenina (1948) all I could think of was Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

Hmmm

Anna Karenina was published as a serial from 1873-77 by Leo Tolstoy-it is divided into eight parts and has over a dozen major characters. In my opinion, what it boils down to is the story lines of two characters-Anna Karenina and Konstantin “Kostya” Dmitrievich Lëvin/Lyovin. The movie doesn’t really showcase the second character, so I’m going to focus on the former, as the movie does.

Countess Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is one of the most beautiful women in Russia. The book and film, starts with her heading to St. Petersburg to visit with her brother, Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky, who’s affair with his children’s governess has been discovered. When traveling she visits with Countess Vronskaya and talk about their sons-showing pictures. Countess tells Anna how his son is supposedly engaged, but she doesn’t believe the womanizing man is ready to settle down-she sees it in “his eyes”.

He’s a bad boy-womanizer

When the train stops, Anna meets Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. She is nice and goes off with her brother-but the Count is struck by her and that’s it. He is set on going after her.

I want her!

Anna helps with her brother’s marital problems, ironing everything out, and encourages her sister-in-law, Princess Ekaterina “Kitty” Alexandrovna Shcherbatskay, fiancé to Count Vronsky. They go to a ball and the Count completely ignores Kitty telling her “I didn’t see you” when she is right next to him.

Way harsh,

He pays attention all night to Anna. Anna enjoys it because her husband is too busy for her, too busy caring for Russia as he is an important politician. But after the ball, she heads home as she knows Vronsky’s attentions are wrong (and too tempting) and she’s sad she hurt Kitty.

Vronsky follows Anna on the train and from then on pursues her nonstop. We see that Anna has had a good life. She married a wealthy and powerful man for security-but he doesn’t give her any attention. All she wants is for his focus, for him to take her to the opera-but he’s made other plans with state officials.

She goes on her own-where her “shadow” as everyone calls it-Count Vrosky, is there. She succumbs to him.

Anna Karenina: If you have any thought for me you will give me back my peace!

Count Vronsky: There can be no peace for us, only misery, and the greatest happiness.

Dude, she asked you to leave her alone, SO LEAVE HER ALONE!

Ugh, this guy!

They begin an affair, which no one cares about her stepping out (as all do it in society) except that Anna doesn’t hide it. In fact, she and Vronsky want to run off and get married, but her husband, Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, won’t divorce her.

This space between them has been in the beginning of the movie and continues.

Anna grows extremely ill and almost dies (in the book it is from a rough pregnancy, in the film they make it more nerves related). Count Alexei forgives her, and wants to stay with her-realizing that she is a real person and he loves her.

But it is too late for Anna, who leaves him and she and Vronsky end up in Italy. They grow uhappy as Anna is separate from her son, never able to see him again, and can not go out in society.

When they return to Russia-Vronsky can go out to parties, the opera, even has a princess wanting to marry him-but Anna is stuck at home. She is the one that made all the sacrifices to be together and is trapped in the cell she created as she is a marked woman, the scarlet letter A is metaphorically burned into her forehead.

She grows more agitated and crazed and upset-trapped in the house and the bad decision she made. In the end she kills herself by jumping in front of a train.

Nooooooooooooooo

Yes, it is very sad.

I’m going to hide under the covers with my ice cream

So how does it make me think of Mansfield’s Park‘s Maria and Mary?

Hmmm

Well in Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry visit the Bertram home. Mary originally decides to go after the eldest brother, but falls for the second son, Edmund. Her brother isn’t set on anyone, but flirts with Mary and Julia Bertram, even though Maria is engaged.

Devilish grin must stay grinning…

Later, Henry goes after Mary’s cousin Fanny Price, but she turns him down. He runs into the married Maria and the two run off together, but do not marry. For Henry he is disheartened to lose Fanny, but it hasn’t really hurt him. Yeah people will talk, but it will blow over in time. He’ll have lots of women after him to marry.

It’s no big deal

But the women, are not so lucky.

Both Maria and Mary are very damaged from the dalliance. Maria ends up divorced and living with her single aunt, kicked out of society, estranged from the rest of her family, never to be married again or have any children. Her life is pretty much over. Mary loses the man she is in love with and it isn’t certain she will recover from this. Unfortunately, Mary’s reputation is tied to her brother and severely damaged.

So unlike Anna, I really do not like Maria at all. She is mean, rude, cruel, a total jerk-so when she everything goes down, I have to admit, I feel very much like “Just desserts” was served.

Sucks to be you

However, after watching this I started thinking of her different-I still don’t like her, but I viewed her differently.

Hmm…

So Anna married an older, wealthy, powerful man. It may have been for wealth, security, power, a family alliance-we don’t quite know. We do know that it isn’t for love as she says she’s never been in love until Vronsky. Now Count Alexei isn’t a bad man, just too focused on himself and Russia. He reminds me of Torvald Helmer in a Doll’s House, and how he never viewed his wife as a person but an object, his doll. Count Alexe doesn’t think he needs to give Anna any attention, as she is already a part of his collection. He never thinks of her as a real woman with needs, emotions, desires, until she almost does and realizes that he could lose her.

Anna could have lived a good life with him, maybe not an extremely happy life, or romantic one, but a good one. The Count is a bit narcissistic, but it could have worked out. The same is true with Maria. Now we know that Maria choose Mr. Rushworth him for his wealth and power, there was no love on her side, just £12,000 a year (making him the wealthiest character in any Jane Austen novel).

And the same would have been for her. Maria wouldn’t have had a perfect, or romantic, or completely happy life-but she would have had a good one. She had her home, friends, society, and eventually children. Both women would have had good marriages if they continued.

Unfortunately, each has a man come waltzing in who doesn’t care and won’t leave them alone. Now Anna does the right thing and tries to leave. She doesn’t want to go down that path. Maria on the other had, she enjoys it and encourages it (that’s another reason I don’t like her).

But the thing that really bothered me was the men. I mean we don’t see it in Mansfield Park as much because the story is not focused on Maria as Fanny is away from her. But in Anna Karenina we see how awfully she is treated. She’s ruined in society, she can’t go anywhere, she becomes trapped in the house-and the Count he no longer loves her.

WHAT!!!!

Yes, the Count wanted her when she was beautiful, the belle of the ball, the one everyone desired.

But after, when more problems arose than were solved, when his happiness was not achieved by a person, he begins to resent her. He hates being trapped in the house and as he is a man, the scandal just rolls off his back and he can move forward and date a princess! He doesn’t get why she is so upset about how she is being treated, he doesn’t understand her loss of her child, her fear of losing him and being alone, etc. And he’s basically like “girl why you mad, you shouldn’t be upset.”

Ugh!

The same is with Henry Crawford, like Maria we don’t see everything that happens to him, but we know all he has to do is go into the country for a bit, and then he can be back and out in society. He’s not going to be seared with the “red letter”, be estranged from his family (his uncle probably loved it), never get married (unless it is by choice), never have children (unless by choice), etc.

Me with Henry Crawford and Vronsky.

So while watching Anna Karenina didn’t make me like Maria and Mary better, but it did make me feel sorry for them that they receive the brunt of the outfall of the affair while the men get to take off and live their lives.

It also makes so angry that these men pursued these women when they were off limits.

True Henry was only doing it for fun-but still. These men did that knowing that nothing could happen to them, and doing their best seduction to trap them.

You jerks!

Ugh, after watching this I hate Vronksky and Henry even more than before.

I kind of debated adding this to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, but I wasn’t sure. It is such a sad movie-and so sad what happens to her-I don’t know if I would recommend it. I might put it on the Mansfield Park page though.

Hmm…

And in conclusion, Professor O’Malley you are wrong. Jane Austen and Russian stories are similar-and Jane Austen doesn’t end happily-ever-after for everyone.

For more Mansfield Park, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

For more Maria Bertram, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Mary Crawford, go to The Heartbreak Kid

For more Henry Crawford, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

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Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

 

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd

So here we are with the final post, the conclusion to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. It is always nice to finish something you start, but at the same time sad that it is ending.

Aw…

So quick review. For those of you who missed posts 1, 2, & 3Dangerous to Know is a compilation novel of the bad boys of Jane Austen-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.

A great thing about this book is that with these men, besides Wickham, we don’t know that much about their past or who they are. Most only play a small role-but have a big impact. This allows the authors a ton of wiggle room and almost anything can happen.

As these are rakes, rogues, & villians-they aren’t the best of men. Their stories being sexy

And I just want to say thank you to Christina Boyd for including this little chart to help you:

Mature Content Guidelines:

  1. None: Possible kissing and affection.
  2. Mild: Kissing.
  3. Moderate: Some sexual references but not explicit.
  4. Mature: Some nudity and some provocative sex.
  5. Erotic: Explicit, abundance of sex.

Because not everyone is interested in books like this:

It’s nice giving us a head’s up, so those that aren’t interested know to skip or skim, or those that do-can enjoy.

Something for everyone

So first we had the none posts, which had stories on Captain Fredrick Tilney, General Tilney and John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; along with Sir Walter Elliot from Persuasion. I loved these stories as some of these men I love to hate and it made me hate them ever more: And some men I have hated and actually began to like them:

What! It did all that? Wow!

Then came the mild posts. I was really surprised with these stories as they were on Tom Bertram from Mansfield Park and Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. I had never thought of these two as rogues, mostly because they have two of the biggest, baddest Austen rogues-Henry Crawford and George Wickham. The stories were really good and sucked me in, making it very hard to stop reading.

Then came the moderate. These had stories on Frank Churchill from Emma, Mr. Elliot from Persuasion, and Mr. Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility. I really enjoyed them as each author gave us a fresh view into the characters-before they enter the Austen novels. They really fleshed those men out while making me still hate those guys.

This last one will be Mature-Some nudity and some provocative sex. So with out further ado-bring on the bad boys!

A Wicked Game by Katie Oliver

So we start off with George Wickham, Austen’s most notorious bad boy. Reams upon reams have been written about him.

 George Wickham was raised with Mr. Darcy and frittered away the money the elder Mr. Darcy left for his education; later tried to take off with Darcy’s sister; ran up debts all over town while smearing Darcy’s name; and runs of with Lydia Bennet. He’s one really bad boy.

This story begins in 1812, with Wickham fighting for the British army and is struck by the enemy. As he is injured, his life flashes before him and he finds himself wanting. He thinks back to where he all started on this profligate path:

We travel back to Derbyshire 1800. Wickham is heading to church with Mr. Darcy Sr and Jr. It is the summer before he is to start his first year at Cambridge and he is a restless young man.

Especially today as he finds church dull. (And this guy seriously thinks he is going to be a minister?) But then he spots her, a vision-Lady Clémence Harlow, widow and sister-in-law to Mrs. Fanshaw. He gets to meet the beautiful and stylish woman and is smitten.

The Fanshaws join the Darcy’s for dinner and Wickham sits across from Lady Harlow so he can spend the whole night looking at her.

While at the table-Wickham realizes how dissatisfied he is with his life. Everything is plotted and planned by Mr. Darcy Sr., he has no say. He would love anything out of this blueprint-such as the lovely Lady Harlow, which the Darcy’s can’t stand. He’s at a crossroads and leaning toward the crazy path, more than the steady one.

Which way should I choose?

That night a big storms comes up, so the Fanshaw party has to remain at Pemberley. Wickham approaches Lady Harlow for a bit of flirting and she plans to meet him later-in his room.

He waits for her to come, but she never does. At one point he thinks he hears angry voices and a door closing-but Lady Harlow never appears-except in his dreams.

The next day he is grumpy and mad at Lady Harlow for standing him up. She conspires to get them alone and apologizes, blaming it on the brandy they drank. She invites him to walk with her and they take off into he woods. They can’t stay too long and return to the house. Lady Harlow promising that they will have a chance in the future.

Wickham is grim until a ball at cousin Fitzwilliam’s house occurs. The Fanshaw family is going too, this could be his night. Mr. Darcy Sr, doesn’t like Lady Harlow and cautions Wickham against her, but he doesn’t care.

Or what I’m doing!

He finally gets a chance to dance with Lady Harlow that night and the two make plans to run off to a hotel and France together.

He makes his way out there, pretending to be traveling with a friend, but using him as a cover. His friend tries to warn him that things won’t go well-Lady Harlow is not the woman for him, but he won’t listen.

He gets in the room and the two:

But in the morning there is no Lady Harlow…just Darcy!

What?

Okay, not like that-they aren’t in bed together or anything. Wickham wakes up to Darcy in the room. Lady Harlow never intended to take him with her, she used him to get what she wanted and for Darcy to pay her off, £500.

What?

It turns out the lady is a gold digger. First she tried to seduce Darcy, when that failed to be “compromised” into marriage, and lastly use Wickham to wrangle some cash.

Wickham continued down his path, but as his life is saved in Spain he looks at life with new eyes-seeing that he should change the person he is and become better.

Hmmm….I need to rethink my life’s choices

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was an interesting view into Wickham, a softer side if you will. I liked seeing Wickham made a fool of, he angers me down to my core so I took great pleasure in it. But then you realize that he pulls the same scam on Georgina, what scum.

Forget you!

Last Letter to Mansfield by Brooke West

Oh Henry Crawford, one of the biggest rakes and rogues in all of Austen’s work. He is taken charge of his sister, Mary,  when his Uncle scandalously moves the mistress into the house. He and his sister visit the Bertram family where he flirts with the engaged elder sister Maria and the younger sister, Julia. Later, he decides to bring their cousin Fanny into his web, but ends up falling for her.

That wasn’t part of the plan…

Fanny seeing that Henry is no good, sidesteps him. Later, he and married Maria take off together. He and his sister try to get him back in Fanny’s good graces, but no dice with Fanny.

I was really interested in this as I have always wondered what the heck was going through Henry’s mind? Why run off with a married woman?

October 1809

So the story starts off after all that happened. Henry is trying to write a letter to Fanny to beg her back. He’s been with Maria for months, but wishes it was Fanny. He is dying to go back, but…can’t. He tells her that he din’t want to seduce Maria, had no plans to…

We go back…

September 1809

Henry and Maria have been together for a while. Maria is angry and getting ready to leave as nothing turned out how she wished. Maria loved being in charge at Mansfield Park as the eldest woman, then as Mrs. Rushworth, but now she is a scandal and staying at an inn in the middle of nowhere. Henry keeps trying to get rid of her-but she doesn’t want to leave-she has nowhere to go.

So what happens now?
So what happens now?
Where am I going to?
[Peron:] You’ll get by, you always have before
[Mistress:] Where am I going to?
[Eva:] Don’t ask anymore -Hello and Goodbye from Evita

Maria hoped to be with the sexy, charming man rather than her simple husband and is angry that nothing has come from it. Henry blames Maria for seducing him-and causing him to lose his love.

Wow, real mature. You need to take responsibility for YOUR actions.

Henry spends as much time away from Maria but returns every night and uses her for sex-wanting to hurt her, making her cry every night.

Eventually, Maria gives up and leaves with her Aunt Norris, the only one who doesn’t hold her responsible for her sins.

Henry goes home to his sister, Mary. Poor Mary, I actually feel sorry for her. She went from the scandal of her uncle to the scandal of her brother. Unfortunately, the men will go on but what about her? She’s too sullied by them.

Five Months Earlier

Henry and Maria  met up again and they had a night of fun together. Henry hopes to walk it off, no needs to know-but Maria craves it. She hopes to run off with him and have him marry her-even going as far as to follow him when he leaves for home. She had planned to trap him, and Henry in his vanity fell right in it.

Oh no!

London 1799

18-year old Henry and his uncle are out together, his uncle deciding it is time for his nephew to become a “man”. His uncle buys him his first, Arabella- beautiful young woman. She teaches him how to make love

He loves being with her and seeks her again and again, something his uncle notices and does not care for, as women are nothing but tools to be used.

This dude

One day he goes to be with her and finds his uncle on top of her.

After that, they were all the same to him-somethig to have his needs met, nothing more. Basically the Joe of Say Anything:

Corey Flood: Hi Joe, How are you? I love you.

Joe: I love you too.

Corey Flood: You invade my soul

Joe: I want to get back together, Mimi is gonna go to college and I’m gonna be alone and I’m gonna break up with her before she leaves, have sex with me.

Until Fanny, but that’s over.

He finishes his letter to Fanny, pouring everything out into it…and then throwing it on the fire. The rakish roguish Crawford must live on.

Devilish grin must stay grinning…

Thoughts After Reading:

Like Wickham we regress into boyhood, get a very different view of the character than seen before.  Although I still didn’t feel bad for him, no one made you do it and you can’t keep blaming women, “Fanny of only you had loved me”, “Maria, if only you hadn’t seduced me.” What about what you did, punk? Hmm…

This did make me view Mary in a completely different way. Poor girl, she has the worst guardians, and she will be forever tainted by their shame. What will be come of her?

So now that we have reviewed the stories let’s talk about the other question on people’s minds: How sexy was the sexy parts?

Hmm…?

The sexy parts were pretty sexy. If that is what you enjoy, than you will definitely like it. If it isn’t something you like reading, than like I’ve said before, they don’t make up the entire story so you can skim/skip it. There is something for everyone.

So my final conclusion:

I LOVED It! I thought it was an amazing addition to any Jane Austen fan’s bookshelf. Each author was able to write a wonderful story that took the few scenes we had of each character and really flesh them out to a complete story. One thing I really enjoyed was that in doing so, each author kept true to Jane Austen’s story. True, they are creating their own tale but none of these men seemed too out of character or so radically different that it causes Jane Austen to roll over in her grave. You can tell that each story was lovingly written, in honor of Jane, but still allowed each author their own individual style. I highly recommend it. You should read it now!

Yes! If interested, here is the Amazon link

But this book did leave me with one question: Christina Boyd will you be editing a book on the bad girls of Jane Austen?

Can you see it? Lucy Steele and Mrs. Fanny Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility; Lydia Bennet and Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice; Maria Bertram, Julia Bertram, and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park; Mrs. Elton from Emma; Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; Mrs. Clay from Persuasion. Think about it…

For more reviews of Dangerous to Know, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

For more Mansfield Park, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Retellings Strike Back: Pride & Prejudice, cont.