Sunday, August 28, 2016

Scary Mary

When I first encountered this spoofy video on Facebook, I found it highly amusing. Yes, perhaps the cool primness of Julie Andrews' Mary Poppins bordered on the frigid. But she was nothing like the Mary Poppins of the book, a fact I realized when I finally read it a few years ago.

But even that icy creature is nothing compared with the Mary Poppins featured in the first few chapters of the sequel, Mary Poppins Comes Back. In this section are two scenes which paint her didactic personality with even colder, darker strokes.

For instance, just after Miss Poppins reenters the Banks household, following close on her heels is Euphemia Andrew, Mr. Banks' enormous, terrifying former governess. Miss Andrew has come to stay, unannounced, doling out unwelcome child-rearing advice to anyone who will listen. Mary Poppins will definitely not listen:

"'Thank you, ma'am' said Mary Poppins with icy politeness, 'But I bring the children up in my own way and take advice from nobody.'"

The miffed and shocked Miss Andrew makes a fatal mistake: during her retort, she refers to Mary, not by her name (she hasn't bothered to ask), but as "Young woman." All her subsequent demands for Mary's sacking are nothing to this.

So when Mary discovers that the formidable Miss Andrew keeps a caged lark, she speaks to the creature and discovers that it was once free. To make a long story short, Mary wields her magic and soon the lark is flying through the air, carrying in its beak a cage inhabited by a screaming Miss Andrew.

After a survivable crash, and a forced apology, Miss Andrew hightails it out of the Banks household quicker than you can say, "My, that was little creepy."

But the creepiness has, apparently, come to stay. In the very next chapter, "Bad Wednesday," Mary punishes a grumpy Jane by leaving her all alone in a room with a demonic plate; that is, a plate with painted figures who lure Jane into their Hotel California world, then refuse to let her leave.

Terrified, Jane begins to shout for Mary Poppins who eventually pulls her out of her captor's encircling arms. She's safe, yes, but apparently post-traumatic stress wasn't yet a thing back in Edwardian England.

I haven't yet continued reading, but yes, this Mary is a little scary.