What I have tried to do in this modern adaptation of Mansfield Park is to simple the theme of the novel to, Education. I have herd many arguments over the true theme of Mansfield Park and I can understand the logic behind each one. If you do not agree with me I do not care to argue. I have tried to do my best to find modern day parallels for each of the major events of the novel and found that for the sake of plot I needed to change the order of events. For example the Mansfield theater is paralleled with a Reality T.V. show. Remember what Fanny and Edmund were objecting to, in the dramatic production at Mansfield Park? That the cast members were using this device to circumvent the proprieties of their society. In other words to act bad without braking the rules. The Reality show allows the Bertram children to become famous for being famous. In other words to be stars for no good reason. I found that the plot moved better if I brought this forward rather than later. Also this chapter parallels the overall events in chapters one and two of the novel. Enjoy!
"Are you out of your mind," Edmund shouted. "You want to star in a reality T.V. show!"
"It will be great," Tom said breezily. "Everybody can have a role. I'll be the fun loving party boy. Maria will be the cool big sister, Julia can be her funky partner. And you will be the book smart brother."
"Play a role," Edmund snorted. "How real is this show going to be?"
"Only good will come from it," Maria added. "We are the first family of the mid west, the press is always trying to find out what we are doing. This show will just tell them what they want to know."
"Why should father be the only famous member of the family," Julia countered.
"Because father has earned the attention by his works. What you are suggesting is to be famous for being famous," Edmund continued. "We have don nothing worthy of the attention. And if you remember father has always tried to protect us from the spot light."
"Not true," Julia countered. "Remember the show My Super Sweet Sixteen, we all did that show."
"Not all, I did not have a super sweet sixteen and neither did Fanny," Edmund said flatly. When Fanny Price was ten years old her parents died. Her mother from cancer, her father killed in action. The Navy had provided some assistants, but family was expected to step in to do the rest. Fanny had been sent to live with her mother's sister.
"Plus," Maria continued as if she did not hear her brother. "All of us have mottled in the past year." The four Bertram children were all good looking. Tom had a mountain man build and a handsome face with curly red-gold hair. The two sisters were tall, fair with natural blond hair that looked like spun gold in the right light. And not to be forgotten too perfect to be natural breast.
"Not all of us have mottled," Edmund said through clenched teeth. He did not think that was something to be proud of and Fanny had been excluded because she walked with a cane.
"And we all were interviewed for our graduations," Tom added. Edmund had no argument for this one as all four of them had been interviewed by the local newspaper. As for Fanny she had not yet graduated.
"Dad will not like it," Edmund said.
"He is away in England and will not know about this at all," Tom said. "Yates has told us that the show will only air in the U.S. for 13 episodes."
"I will tell him," Edmund said. "This is not the 1800s it does not take weeks to send a message."
"Fine then you do not have to be in the show," Tom said heatedly. "I am sure that we do not need you."
"You would drive the viewers away with your complaining," Julia put in. "The producers really want the three of us anyway. We only asked you to join in to be polite."
"Only you three," Edmund said in surprise.
"Yes, mother and Aunt Norris are both too old and no one would want to look at Fanny," Maria said.
"Because of her disability we do not want Fanny to hurt herself by trying to keep up with us," Julia said in a softer tone. She at least remembered that they were angry with Edmund and not Fanny. Edmund did not like it when his family used Fanny's disability to exclude her from participation. However, in this case he was glad.
"What do you mean keeping up with you," Edmund asked in a tense voice. "What will you be doing?"
"They will be showing the world how mountain people live," Mr. Yates the producer said coming forward. Edmund rolled his eyes. "Over the next three months our cameras will be fallowing your brother and sisters as they performed the sports that make this region famous. Biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing and the like."
"And what happens after that," Edmund demanded. "I find it hard to believe that something like this does not already air."
"If the viewers like the show we will film 13 more episodes of them doing winter sports," Yates replied.
"And what will you be doing in this house," Edmund continued.
"Family seen," Yates continued undaunted by Edmund's anger. "The first floor rooms would be the best room for those shots."
"You will confine your crew to Tom's apartment," Edmund declared. Tom lived in the basement apartment at the house.
"That was the plan all along," Tom lied. "The crew would use the backdoor and only my apartment. And I had always plan to ask Dad's permission after all the details were settled." Yates opened his mouth to protest, but a look from Tom stopped him. Edmund agreed to the terms and was not happy about it. His only comfort were the boundaries he had put into play.
"One last thing," Yates said in an oily voice. "I have these wavers for you and the rest of the household to sine. It just states that you don't mind if your face or voice happened to be caught on camera."
"I will read the forms myself before I sine. As for the staff and Fanny let them make their own choice," Edmund replied.
"Mom already sine the waver for Fanny," Maria said.
"Will you be filming after July 6," Edmund wanted to know.
"Yes, of course," Yates said his smile still in place.
"Then you will need to get Fanny to sine another waver." Edmund raised his voice and spoke for the benefit of his brother and sisters. "Fanny Price will be 18."
"That is wonderful," Yates gushed. He guessed that speaking well of Fanny would earn him points with Edmund. "Did she graduate this year."
"No, Julia said. "When Fanny moved here from Virginia she had to be put back one grade."
"She was so stupid when she got here," Maria added. "Daddy would not spend the money on private school for Fanny. That's why he sent her to public school instead." When a child is transferred to a school in a different state, that child is often put back a grade level. Therefore instead of being placed in the forth grade with Julia, Fanny was placed in the third grade. All of this was explained to Mr. Bertram, but he never bothered to tell his children. And so Maria and Julia never let Fanny forget that she was stupid.
"Fanny is one grade behind, but she has received high marks in all her classes," Edmund retorted. He took education seriously." I have word from Dad that he will be here next Sunday," Edmund continued in an even tone. "I will not tell what you are planning to do, because you Tom have assured me that you will."
"Do you want to get a pizza before going home," Fanny asked as she got into Susan Maddox's car. School had let out two weeks ago for the summer and Fanny had found a volunteer position at the library.
"Normally, Fan Fan I would say yes, but my brother is home from U.V.A and mom is demanding that we have family day," Susan said before sticking out her tong.
"At least your brother was just at college, mine is at war," Fanny replied. William Price was 12 when their parents died and was sent to military school. When he turned 18 he joined the Navy and was now a midshipmen in Virginia.
"Hey I love my big bro as much as you love yours," Susan remarked. "It just the stuff mom makes us do is so lame."
"I believe that our generation's lexis has replaced the word lame," Fanny said. Susan took one hand off the wheel to punch Fanny in the arm. "Both hands on the wheel!"
Mansfield Ranch could be divided into three parts. Lower middle class, upper middle class and rich. Fanny and Susan went to a public school in the upper middle class section of town. Driving from one end to the other took a very short amount of time, as the town was very compact. They passed by shopping malls filled with nation wide chain stores. Landscaped parks with walking paths. Neighborhoods with high end apartments and big houses that could not be called mansions.
"Just for that if I need an exit, your it," Susan said coming into the expensive neighborhood where the Bertram's lived. The area had true stone and wood mansions with professionally landscaped yards dotted with man made mini waterfalls and statues. "If you get a text from me think of a reason to leave the house."
"Do you remember the grade I got in creative writing," Fanny cried. "I am no good on thinking on my feet."
"Okay, then just tell your evil aunt that my mom has work for you," Susan said. When Fanny was ten and Susan nine they had been in the same class. For the first weeks of school Fanny had a hard time finding friends; in fact three mean girls had started to tees Fanny. One day Susan came out of no where smacked the first girl in the mouth, punched the second girl in the stomach, and pushed the third into a wall. Fanny and Susan had been best friends ever since.
"What kind of work? I can cook, but your mom wouldn't need my help for that."
"Why is there a camera crew in front your house," Susan asked coming to a sudden stop.
"It is only one, so somebody must be giving an interview," Fanny said mildly.
"Keep your phone on," Susan shouted before she drove away. Fanny carefully walked up the stairs, using the rail and her cane for balance. Inside Fanny had a choice to fallow the sound of talking or go to the kitchen for lunch. It sounded like Edmund and Tom were fighting over the TV, so she went to the kitchen.
"Mrs. Snowmoon are you here," Fanny called for the on staff cook.
"Your lunch is on the table," Terry Snowmoon's voice floated out of the walk in refrigerator. "Do not go into the family room." On the table was a turkey sandwich topped with mixed greens, cucumber slices and a celery mint sauce on whole wheat bread. A cut glass bowl was filled with five kinds of brightly colored fruit and a fluted glass was filled with sparkling lemonade.
"Thank you. What are they fighting about," Fanny wanted to know.
"Tom and the girls want to film a reality T.V. show in the house," Terry said. "Would lam be good for the Garden ladies?"
"The Rocky Mountain Garden club ladies dinner," Fanny remarked. "The crazy fitness lady is coming, you might want to make a low fat dinner." Fanny was still very shy around most people, but she did quickly understand their character in order to better please them.
"Never," Terry shouted exiting the walk-in.
"At the spring flower planting party, she gave Louisa Hurst an ear full for feeding everybody beef," Fanny said.
"Louisa Hurst cooked nothing! She hired a caterer," Terry returned hotly. "Okay so no lamb, what do you suggest?"
"Well all your dinners have the first course as soup and salad. The second course is a meat and three side dishes. And your third course is a pastry," Fanny mused aloud.
"I can do cream of Asparagus soup and a broccoli salad," Terry said walking to the kitchen computer.
"You will make the crazy fitness lady happy," Fanny said under her breath.
"The second course can be Ginger lime chicken on a bed of rice. Green been almandine and cinnamon carrots."
"Give them chocolate for dessert," Fanny remarked. "When women have chicken or fish for the main course they feel like they have earned chocolate."
"My chocolate peanut butter cake," Terry said smiling. "A white wine with the first course. Water with lemon for the second course. And coffee with the last."
Eight years ago when Fanny Price arrived at Denver International Airport her family was surprised to find the child in a wheelchair. At the age of three Fanny was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis; an autoimmune condition that made her joints swell painfully among other things. The medicine to control the illness were almost as bad as the disease itself. For a long set of weeks Fanny could almost play with the other children. And for others she would be confined to bed in too much pain to eat. But for the most part she fell somewhere in between the two extremes. An additional problem was the fact that her disability was little understood by many people. Many times people believed that she was just lazy or slow for no good reason. Anyone who did not have first hand experience with the disability; could not understand why in April Fanny could play as well as the other children, but in October walked with a cane. Also people forgot that Fanny was not an adult. She played games that her doctor had prohibited, because she wanted to play. The morning after her over activity her joints swelled and she was kept in bed.
From the time that Fanny had come to live with the Bertram family, Terry Snow moon had been the one who really looked after her. She had been the one to help Fanny with her medicine when the nanny was too busy with the other children. When Terry discovered that Fanny was on five prescriptions she did some research. Only two of the medicines were for treating Fanny's Juvenile Arthritis; the other three were to treat the side effects of the other two. In researching Juvenile Arthritis Terry learned that with any autoimmune condition the immune system was compromised. That fact introduced another set of problems. Terry did not like this and believed that Fanny would fair better with a new doctor. She found one in Englewood and talked Mrs. Bertram to take Fanny to Dr. Brown. That doctor put Fanny on a single medicine, a shot to be taken once a week. Both the nanny and Mrs. Bertram did not want to give the shot to Fanny, therefore the job was left to Terry. She had all the skills of a nurse without the formal training. As a personal belief Terry rarely used conventional medicines, she preferred natural remedies. In fact she was a distributor for an online company that was world famous for their products. In addition to the weekly shot, Terry gave Fanny oils and pills to build up her immune system. Under her care Fanny became stronger, in six months Fanny was using a walker. After three more months she was walking with a cane. The Colorado air was so good in the summer she did not even need her cane that much, only for going up and down stairs. Fanny was sick less often and she had more energy . Only after several years cycle of over activity, pain and recovery did Fanny learn her limits and a few more years to learn how to defend her boundaries.
Over time Terry began to do more for Fanny than just give her shots, pills and oils. She talked with Fanny about her thoughts and feelings, helping her cope with her losses. Soon Terry was suggesting the books that charmed Fanny's play time as she still could not join with her cousins in their activities. Terry corrected Fanny's ideas, views and opinions about the world. She formed the young mind in a way that brought her best qualities to the forefront. Fanny took to spending time in the kitchen learning how to cook. The result being that when Terry was out sick or on vacation Fanny would take her place.
"Wait a minute. Did you say a reality T.V. show," Fanny exclaimed as Edmund stormed into the room.
"I don't want to talk about that any more," Edmund growled. Terry placed a bowl of peaches and cream in front of him and Fanny poured a cup of coffee. When ever somebody was in a less than good mood, give then sugar! Science proved that it helped to calm emotions. The food had the wished for effect. "What would you like to do for your birthday," he asked Fanny in a gentle tone.
"Horseback riding through Garden of the Gods and dinner at the fondue restaurant," Fanny said after hesitating. Her birthday was still six weeks away.
"I know you want Susan there," Edmund remarked. "Anyone else?"
"No, all my other friends have gone on vacation," Fanny said.
"Would you mind working next Sunday," Edmund asked Terry. "My dad is coming in from New York and wants a family dinner."
"I can not be in before 4 o'clock, will that work," Terry wanted to know.
"That's fine, his flight is scheduled to arrive at 4," Edmund replied. And how often is a plane on time," he said riley. "Are all these books yours, Fanny."
"Yes, I just picked them up from the library today," She said smiling. Starting from the top of the stack there was; a book on Roman history, an Italian historical fiction, a classic French novel, a book of Spanish poetry, a Romany play and a book of poetry from Portugal.