I recently borrowed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the zombie-apocalypse parody of Jane Austen’s classic novel, from my library’s Kindle books collection. I’m conflicted about whether I would recommend it to other readers. At first it was fun to read about the Bennett sisters battling the undead, but after a while, the novelty wore off and I started to get annoyed with the way the zombie stuff was distracting from, well, Pride and Prejudice. The original novel is just too charming to be improved — yes, even by the addition of ninjas.
But not all of Jane Austen’s novels are gems on the level of P&P. I think one of them in particular could seriously benefit from the addition of some undead antagonists. For your consideration, I present the following Austen mash-up idea: The Vampires of Mansfield Park.
Let’s be honest. The original Mansfield Park is a snooze.* Heroine Fanny Price is a passive drip, especially next to her neighbor, the witty and assertive Mary Crawford. Mary’s charming brother Henry Crawford is an appealing suitor for Fanny, yet Fanny inexplicably rejects him to continue pining over her boring cousin Edmund Bertram, who barely seems to know Fanny exists until the last 10 pages of the book. The Crawford siblings are allegedly the villains of the piece but their only real crime** seems to be not being dull enough to suit the tedious Bertram/Price clan.
Now, think about how much awesomer the book would be if the Crawfords (and possibly some of the other characters) were vampires.
Suddenly, Fanny’s resistance to Henry’s advances becomes much more understandable. Edmund’s near-total indifference to Fanny — a major obstacle to caring about the original book’s key romance — could be explained by Mary putting him under thrall. Fanny’s disagreeable Aunt Norris would be even more odious with supernatural abilities. Also, the long sequence in the book where Fanny agonizes over finding the right chain for her cross pendant wouldn’t seem so insipid if she were going to a ball filled with vampires.
What do you think? Do you like MP the way it is, or do you agree that a few bloodsucking undead would really improve the story?+
Also, Heathcliff’s behavior in Wuthering Heights would make a lot more sense if he were a werewolf. Just saying.
* I am not alone in thinking this, I’m sure. In college, a wonderful scholar from Oxford gave a guest lecture in my English class. She was delighted to learn we were reading an Austen novel, but her enthusiasm dissolved when she learned we’d been assigned Mansfield Park. “… oh,” she said, visibly deflating.
** OK, yes, Henry sleeps with the married Maria Bertram. Fair enough. But I’ve always felt that Mary’s supposed villainy was only tacked on at the end to explain why Edmund would ever choose Fanny over Mary.
+ Apparently there’s already a Mansfield Park and Mummies, which is sadly not available from my library. I may have to spring the $5 for the Kindle version.