WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hobberdehoy

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Hobberdehoy

I think we all know someone who needs to act their age rather than their shoe size (to paraphrase Prince). This week’s word may be more a literal reference to age rather than behavior, but it’s easier to illustrate the latter, so I beg your indulgence of my interpretation.

Hobberdehoy (noun)

Half a man and half a boy, a lad between both.

For the ultimate Regency boy-man, I of course thought of the Prince Regent, the patron saint of leisure, fashion, and food, and extravagance in all three. He was criticized as selfish, careless, and inconstant, offering no direction to the country during his father’s incapacitation or the wars with Napoleon and America. His legacy is self-aggrandizement for all things frivolous and profligate.

George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1822, Chatsworth House Chintz Bedroom.

George IV by Thomas Lawrence, 1822, Chatsworth House Chintz Bedroom.

The remaining behavioral visual aids for Hobberdehoys may be fictional – but they fit my thematic rendering rather well. And of course they came from the inspired mind of Jane Austen. Upon examination, I found a Hobberdehoy in each of her novels.

Do you agree with my choices?

Allesandro Nivola as Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, 1999.

Allesandro Nivola as Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, 1999.

Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill in Emma.

Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill in Emma, 2009.

William Beck as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, 2007.

William Beck as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, 2007.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, 2007.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion, 2007.

Greg Wise as Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Greg Wise as Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Adrian Lukis as George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Adrian Lukis as George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

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The best Mansfield Park adaptation you’ve not seen

The best Mansfield Park adaptation you’ve not seen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Janeite in possession of a free afternoon must be in want of an Austen adaptation.

jane austen gives women unrealistic expectations

My least favorite Austen story is Mansfield Park. I’m just lukewarm to Fanny and Edmund. After an entire novel’s worth of watching and wishing by Fanny, and chummy brotherliness by Edmund, their ending seems less happily ever after as just – well – ever after. The argument could be made that two such meh people deserve are perfect for each other, and that love doesn’t always have to be passionate or tempestuous, but….pfft. I’ve always wished instead for Henry and Fanny to be transformed by love for each other. I wanted his liveliness to balance out her solemnity. I wanted her maturity to bring out responsibility in him. Together, he’d no longer be mercurial and she’d throw off the garb of milquetoast.

Sure, the story features Mary Crawford, Maria Betram Rushworth, and Aunt Norris – the original mean girls trifecta – blissfully selfish and possessed of doctorates in passive aggression. But secondary characters can’t carry or redeem an otherwise staid novel. I tolerate like them for the spice they add to the story, but I really only hope they get what they deserve. I have more sympathy and interest in the futures of Rushworth and Tom Bertram than I honestly do in Fanny and Edmund.

When YouTube suggested I might like a little webseries based on my sixth favorite Austen novel, I was in between television addictions (post Outlander, pre-Downton Abbey), and vulnerably bored. By the third “webisode,” I was pleasantly diverted. By the tenth, I was subscribed. I know it’s neither TV nor HBO, but it’s good. Really good.

mansfield with love horizontal

From Mansfield With Love, adapted and performed by the  Foot in the Door Theatre, is faithful to the original, earnest in its depictions, and utterly captivating. It’s the little adaptation that could. Mansfield Park still belongs to the family Bertram, but is here a country hotel. The Crawfords are Town designers who have come to refurbish the old relic, and Fanny – renamed Frankie – is in housekeeping. She vlogs to her Royal Navy brother Will, tangentially documenting the goings-on in everyone’s lives.

Henry Crawford (Peter Jennison), Mary Crawford (Aloña Walsh), Frankie Price (Holly Truslove), and Ed Bertram (Wesley Buckeridge).

The actors and writers of From Mansfield With Love have managed to make me sympathize with and adore Fanny/Frankie. They’ve also made me do what the book could not: completely ship Franny/Frankie and Henry, then loathe the thought of them together after the big betrayal. Ed Bertram, the congenial lifelong friend and new school teacher, could still do with a kick or two in his posterior. This portrayal, however, fully illustrates how Ed was comfortably complacent until something new shook him up, how his eyes were ultimately opened to what he had when the new spoiled, and how he could lose what he never knew he needed most. When the climax arrives and we see the true Mary, we finally see the true Edmund, thank the good Lord.

And the Rushworths – dear Lord, the Rushworths must be experienced!

The series began nine months ago with an engaging introductory episode. This week is episode 83 and Franny/Frankie is “Running on Empty” now that Henry’s done something again, Tom has been in a horrible accident, and Ed and Mary are having a tiff.  Big things are afoot! Might I suggest it’s a terrific time to binge-watch and catch up for what will undoubtedly be a big ol’ slice of satisfying ending?

PS – The troupe actually made a mini-movie of Lovers’ Vows. You really should watch the lead-up episodes for the squabbling, scheming, lusting, and Tom Bertram tantrums, but if you’ve always wanted to see a black-and-white, art nouveau version of the play, here you go:

PPS – Mary vlogs, too. At first they’re innocuous, just like Mary. They grow increasingly more Mary-ish. So delicious.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Man of the Town

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Man of the Town

Henry Crawford.

‘Tis a name that immediately brings to mind a flurry of descriptors: flirtatious, seductive, immature, frivolous, self-centered, handsome, amusing, glib, conceited. The list could go on and on.

I’m of two minds about Henry. On the surface, he’s the male version of a flibbertigibbet, a consummate conversationalist and flatterer effusive with both compliments and an unending supply of innocuous chatter. Dig a little deeper, and he’s the tortured smooth operator, juggling bad ideas and intentions with an undercurrent of longing for someone to save him from himself. And is there any headier or more foolhardy a challenge than the man in need of the reforming love of a good woman?

Man of the Town (noun)

A rake, debauchee. A spruce, trim, smart fellow in earnest pursuit of pleasure.

For a modern-day illustration, I’m reminded of the intellectually-stimulating, oscar-worthy teen flick, She’s All That.  Most critics call this a remake of Pygmalion or its remake, My Fair Lady, but I think it’s closer to Mansfield Park. Henry Crawford, unrepentant Man of the Town unable to break free from his self-absorption and hedonistic pursuits, is the late Paul Walker’s character Dean Sampson (villain name, to be sure). Henry Crawford’s story with a happy ending, where he realizes the error of his ways and is content to pursue Fanny Price ad infinitum, moving out of shallowness and into maturity, is the Freddie Prinze, Jr. character, Zack Siler.

It’s amazing how many teen movies are simplistic remakes of classic novels.

 

All definitions and/or examples taken from Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and/or 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.