PERSUASIONS ON-LINE V.31, NO.1 (Winter 2010)


Our Austen: Fan Fiction in the Classroom


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Pomp & Fanciness


Henrike van der Brug, Arjette Engels, Anneke Middelveld, and Sanne IJkema


Pomp & Fanciness

a play in four acts




Henrike van der Brug..............................Narrator

Arjette Engels..............Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Anneke Middelveld......................Anne de Bourgh

Sanne IJkema....................Mr. Collins/Mrs. Collins




Narrator: It is a truth universally not acknowledged that Anne de Bourgh was in love with Mr. Collins.  Ever since Anne had first laid her eyes on Mr. Collins, she knew herself to be in love.  For who could resist such a man, such an orator, such a personality?!


Mr. Collins had called on Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Anne’s mother, in order to discuss the living at Rosings.  Mr. Collins had recently finished his studies at Oxford and was now ready for a position.  The living at Rosings and the Parsonage at Hunsford would suit him well, and Mr. Collins was determined to put his best foot forward when meeting his future patroness.


Lady Catherine: Please sit down, Mr. Collins.


Mr. Collins: Most honorable Lady Catherine.  The vastness of my gratitude towards your hospitality, your kindness and your splendor cannot be measured, I am sure of this!  Why, the very fact that I am here, at the glory that is Rosings, with a chimney piece unparalleled in all of Europe, it would not have occurred to me in my wildest . . .


Lady Catherine: (interrupting Mr. Collins)  Sit down sir, sit down.  Now, you were brought to my notice by your teacher, Mr. . . . (they talk on, quietly)


Narrator: As Mr. Collins fumbled on, taking every opportunity he could to compliment Lady Catherine, the rugs, the chimney piece or the candlesticks, Anne, who sat silently in a corner, fell deeply in love with this charming man.  It was rare for a man of Mr. Collins’s allure to visit Rosings; in fact, it was a rare occasion for Anne to come across a man at all.  Mr. Collins, despite his attentions to Lady Catherine, did notice quiet, mousy Anne in the corner, and as Anne went to the other room to take her medication, Mr. Collins inquired after her.



Lady Catherine: Yes, my Anne would have been a fine addition to court, had she had a stronger constitution.  But alas, her illness prevents any sort of accomplishment.  I am sure, however, that Anne would have been a great proficient, if her health had allowed her.  She rarely ventures out of doors; she is confined to her bedchamber for most of the day.  The only companion she has is her nurse, Mrs. Jenkins.


Mr. Collins: What a great sorrow!  Not only for her, but for England!  To miss such a pearl.


Lady Catherine: Yes, indeed it is! However, Anne is secured of a great future. Her impending marriage to my nephew, Mr. Darcy of Pemberley, will be a joyous occasion.  Their marriage was arranged between my dear, late sister and myself during their infancy.  I fear that my daughter has known few pleasures in her life, but life at Pemberley will be sure to provide her with some!


Narrator: Anne did have a pleasure at that time of her life, for she loved to read novels.  Her favorite novels were of a Gothic nature and so each night, after she had said her prayers, Anne would allow herself to be carried away into the world of excitement, ghosts, marauders and draughty castles.  The novel she was reading at the time Mr. Collins had entered her life was The Pope.  And so, as she went to bed that night, her head still filled with the splendor that was Mr. Collins, she read a few pages before resting her head for the night.


All of the sudden, Anne was back in the parlor of Rosings.  Mr. Collins was there again, as was her mother.  Yet, this time, Mr. Collins was not trying to dazzle Lady Catherine with his eloquence.  This time, Mr. Collins only had eyes for Anne.


Mr. Collins: I have heard of the beauty of Rosings, but I had always believed it related to the architecture.  Never would I have imagined finding such a pearl here.


Anne: I . . . I . . .


(He reaches out to touch her face, but before his fingertips touch her cheek, Anne wakes with a snore.)


Narrator: Anne awoke with a start, but smiled as she remembered her dream.





Narrator: Some days have passed since Anne had first met Mr. Collins.  He had not called since, as he had his hands tied in settling at Hunsford.  Anne guessed that by now, everything should be in its rightful place, and since it was a fine day, Mr. Collins might be tending his garden, as he had professed a passion for gardening during his first visit.  She would need her mother’s approval, and so she ventured into the parlor, where her mother was reading.


Anne: Mother?  It is such a glorious day outside.  With your permission, I would like to take a turn around the garden.  It would do wonders for my complexion, Mrs. Jenkins always says so.


Lady Catherine: My dearest Anne, pray, consider your health!  You may feel like taking a turn now but I foresee days of recuperation afterwards.  (Calling to Mrs. Jenkins, who is offstage) Mrs. Jenkins, surely you’ll agree!


Narrator: But Mrs. Jenkins, who knew Anne better than Lady Catherine did, knew that Anne hoped for a chance meeting with Mr. Collins.  She persuaded Lady Catherine to let Anne venture out.  She promised not to let Anne out of her sight and to turn back at the slightest hint of deterioration of Anne’s health.


Anne did feel that she was pushing her health farther than it ought to be pushed, but she was determined to walk to the Parsonage and hoped that the rosy glow on her cheeks registered with Mrs. Jenkins as a sign of enjoyment, rather than fatigue.


As they neared the Parsonage, Mrs. Jenkins feigned an interest to inspect a tree, and urged Anne to go on without her.  Anne delighted at this opportunity and, lo and behold, when she rounded the corner that brought her into view of the Parsonage, there was Mr. Collins, walking towards her, no doubt on his way to Rosings.


Mr. Collins: Dear Miss de Bourgh!  How far you have walked today!  And I was just on my way to call on the magnificent Lady Catherine to thank her once again for the vast kindness that she bestowed on insignificant me.


Anne: Oh I assure you, ’tis nothing really!  I do feel a little fatigued however, and Mrs. Jenkins has ventured off. . . . (gestures offstage)


Narrator: Anne said, hopeful that Collins would take the hint and escort her back home.


Mr. Collins: Pray, let me take care of this!  (makes a gesture as to escort Miss Anne, but raises his hand to his mouth to call out, as Anne almost falls over)  Mrs. Jenkins!!!!  Mrs. Jenkins!!!!


Narrator: Unfortunately, Mr. Collins did not take the hint.  He called for Mrs. Jenkins, who could not feign a deaf ear, and he urged the two ladies to return home.


Lady Catherine: Anne! Have I not foretold this!  You are weary with fatigue!  Look at how red you are.  This will not do.  You are no longer to venture out into the garden.  I adamantly forbid it!





Narrator: A few weeks passed.  Anne had caught cold during her walk and was confined to her bedchamber.  She therefore did not encounter Mr. Collins anymore.  The day she was well enough to join her mother for dinner turned out to be a black day for Anne.


Lady Catherine: Well, this is a joyous day.  My Anne is better, and I have succeeded in my little mission.


Anne: What mission, mother?


Lady Catherine: I have sent Mr. Collins off to his relatives.  His late father’s cousin, a Mr. Bennet, has five single daughters.  I have always believed a rector ought to set an example for his congregation, and so I have urged Mr. Collins to visit this Bennet household and to choose a wife.


Anne: Oh . . .


Lady Catherine: Perhaps, after Mr. Collins has wed, he can perform his first wedding in his church.  (Throws a meaningful look at Anne)  We have not seen much of Darcy lately.  I think I shall call on him to pay his dearest aunt a visit.  And it would be a good thing for the two of you to spend some time together.  He has been spending too much time in the country:  he ought to employ his time in his rightful society.


Narrator: Anne had known of the scheme her mother and aunt had concocted.  When she was young, this thought of marrying Darcy had entertained her greatly, but after Mr. Collins, Darcy paled in comparison.  Despite Mr. Collins’s impending marriage to a Bennet, Anne could still only think of him.


Anne could not attract sleep that night, and so she read more of The Pope than she ought to have.  The very passage she read was filled with ghastly scenes, poisoning, forbidden love, and a wicked old lady controlling the world.  Her head filled with these images, she fell asleep.


(Montage of Lady Catherine being witch-like, Mr. Collins being out of reach, Anne feeling weaker and weaker, with very dramatic music in the background)





Dinner scene:  Anne, Lady Catherine, and Charlotte are present


Lady Catherine: (To Anne)  You look ever so pale!  Come, have some wine to rouse your spirits.  (makes sure her back is to Anne when she gets two glasses; hands Anne the glass that is in her farthest hand)  Here is your wine, dear.  Do drink up!


Anne: I am not thirsty, mother.  Perhaps later.


Narrator: Anne’s dream had her thinking, and now she believed her mother to be poisoning her, making her the feeble creature she was.  She was determined to undermine her mother and not drink a drop.  But Lady Catherine did not quit so easily.


Lady Catherine: Anne dear, drink your wine!  My dear Mrs. Collins, how are you settling at Hunsford?  I gather you will find the shelves in the closets upstairs to be of extreme use.


Charlotte: Uhm, well . . . yes!  Shelves in a closet are very useful, . . . indeed they are!


(Anne pretends to drink, but keeps her lips tightly closed.)


Narrator: As Anne tried her hardest not to drink her wine, which surely must contain a horrible potion, she started to resent Mrs. Collins.  Here she sat, basking in the glory of having the world’s most perfect husband, when he should have been Anne’s.  Suddenly, Anne sees a way out.


(Anne switches glasses with Charlotte.)


Anne: A toast!  (All look at Anne, surprised she would raise her voice so.)  To Mrs. Collins, the happiest woman alive.  (voice warped with bitterness, but manages a sort-of smile)


All:  Salut!  To Mrs. Collins!


Narrator: Charlotte, no doubt dreading the first night in her marriage bed, drains half of her glass.


(The conversation continues, but Charlotte is feeling worse and worse, needs to cough a lot.)


Lady Catherine: Mrs. Collins, have a sip of wine.


Charlotte: (struggling to catch breath)  Yes, yes I will.  (drains the rest of her drink)


Lady Catherine: (looks at Anne, and her glass, and begins to see what has happened, as Charlotte continues to gasp for air and cough; talks quietly to Anne alone)  Anne, did you switch glasses with Mrs. Collins?


Anne: (trying to sound innocent)  Yes, I saw that Mrs. Collins’s glass was not full, and I had no thirst, so I switched them.


Lady Catherine: Silly girl!  You have no idea what you have done!  Come Mrs. Collins.  I’ll take you to Mrs. Jenkins.


(They walk off, leaving Anne alone.  Move to Anne’s bedchamber.)


Narrator: Charlotte had fallen quite ill.  Anne was under the impression that she had poisoned Charlotte, but she felt no remorse, as Charlotte had snatched away her intended.  She did not know that the drink had in fact been a secret medicine Lady Catherine administered to Anne.  The high dose was not of great consequence to Anne, as she received it her entire life, but it was enough to make Charlotte take a turn for the very worse.


Anne let her mind drift off that night as she went to bed.  Her dream started with a knock on the door.  (A knock)


Mr. Collins: My dearest, dearest Anne.  I am free now.  After your little scheme, my wretched wife has passed away.  Nothing stands in our way now.  What do you say?  (Leans in closer)


Anne: I . . . I . . . I am overjoyed.  Dearest William, . . . I have loved you all this time.  (also leans in closer)


(Instead of planting a passionate kiss, Mr. Collins head-butts Anne, and she wakes up with a snore.  It was all a dream.)


Narrator: Anne woke with a start.  Unfortunately, it was all a dream, and she did not know whether Charlotte had survived the night.


Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.  (A knock)


The End


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