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Mansfield Park We Have All Been Or Less To Blame Every One Of Us, Excepting FannyTaken From The Poverty Of Her Parents Home, Fanny Price Is Brought Up With Her Rich Cousins At Mansfield Park, Acutely Aware Of Her Humble Rank And With Only Her Cousin Edmund As An Ally When Fanny S Uncle Is Absent In Antigua, Mary Crawford And Her Brother Henry Arrive In The Neighbourhood, Bringing With Them London Glamour And A Reckless Taste For Flirtation As Her Female Cousins Vie For Henry S Attention, And Even Edmund Falls For Mary S Dazzling Charms, Only Fanny Remains Doubtful About The Crawfords Influence And Finds Herself Isolated Than Ever A Subtle Examination Of Social Position And Moral Integrity, Mansfield Park Is One Of Jane Austen S Most Profound Works This Edition Is Based On The First Edition Of It Includes A New Chronology, Additional Suggestions For Further Reading And The Original Penguin Classics Introduction By Tony Tanner


10 thoughts on “Mansfield Park

  1. says:

    I was astounded to find that many of the reviews on this site criticize this book for the main character, Fanny Price, her timidity and morality It is very different from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, whose smart, sensible heroines make the novels, but I actually enjoyed this book immensely for its social commentary Most of the characters in this book singlemindedly pursue wealth, status, and pleasure regardless of their personal and moral costs Their antics are pretty I was astounded to find that many of the reviews on this site criticize this book for the main character, Fanny Price, her timidity and morality It is very different from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, whose smart, sensible heroines make the novels, but I actually enjoyed this book immensely for its social commentary Most of the characters in this book singlemindedly pursue wealth, status, and pleasure regardless of their personal and moral costs Their antics are pretty hilarious, and I think Fanny s passive and proper nature makes her an ideal medium through which to observe all the frivolous and shallow people around her Aside from being funny, the book also raises the issue of a girl s duty to marry well should personal happiness be sacrificed for money and connections Whether you will like this book depends on why you read Jane Austen Don t read these novels as you would a Harlequin romance, because that s not what they are, as this book shows The love story and the happily ever after element are a lotprominent in PP and SS, but in Mansfield Park it is definitely less important than the social commentary


  2. says:

    This is usually the part where I offer abject apologies for my review s length, but I don t feel like it this time It s long Continued on the comments section You have been duly notified Ah, Fanny Price We meet again Our previous meeting was How shall I say Underwhelming Unsatisfying Lacking is really the word I m looking for There was something missing in every encounter I had with you that made me want to tear my hair out.Now I know why, and it was entirely to do with what I brou This is usually the part where I offer abject apologies for my review s length, but I don t feel like it this time It s long Continued on the comments section You have been duly notified Ah, Fanny Price We meet again Our previous meeting was How shall I say Underwhelming Unsatisfying Lacking is really the word I m looking for There was something missing in every encounter I had with you that made me want to tear my hair out.Now I know why, and it was entirely to do with what I brought to the table for our meeting I brought your sisters in theory, the heroines Elinor, Emma, Marianne, and Elizabeth, like a pack of stylish queen bees in my head, dazzled by their brilliance and faced you with them at my back like a jury at an oral exam, a row of judges at an audition ready to cut you off after only six bars And your six bars, I will be real with you, started to seem to be a particularly wail based version of On My Own that I thought I had heard enough times already to know what your deal was I was in no position to see you at all at that time In those ladies listed above, Austen provided me with a repeated melody and a theme that I admired and respected You didn t fit into that pattern, didn t check the boxes I imagined were necessary I was baffled, frankly, with what the Austen I had created in my head wanted with you.More importantly, really, I made the mistake of thinking that, like those ladies, you were the point of the novel On the one hand, I wasn t wrong You were But not as an examination of an individual, independent person This novel is not called Fanny It isn t called Foolishness and Awkwardness, or any approximation of virtues that you might be supposed to stand for It s called Mansfield Park Fanny is the Pygmalion of Mansfield Park, and in that sense is as central as I ever thought she was, but, as with any Pygmalion story, it is the hands of her Makers that the novel is concerned withthan anything else I spent the first read looking at the product instead of the creator That was my mistake, and that was the mistake that I corrected this time.Looking at it from that perspective, it isn t even as if Austen is breaking a pattern here, considering her other real estate named novel I had been used to placing this novel and Northanger Abbey in opposing corners, but it turns out that this novel is less a departure for Austen andof a return to the interests and focus of her earlier career In Northanger Abbey, Austen focused on lampooning wider trends in society, on the Gothic trend in popular culture and novels, the experience and expectations of young girls, the effects and power of money, social climbing, and the realities of many an unequal marriage It was about Catherine in the sense that she was a well meaning person who encountered these things, was affected by them and made a tortured example of what Austen considered intolerable nonsense, but Austen examined those things through her rather than the reverse There isinterest in commenting on wider trends here than on examining an individual and whatever happens to be mixed up inside there, although of course with Austen s minute and particular observational powers, there will always be some individual moments that ring true.Neither is this novel about Fanny, but rather about new trends and new societal influences that Austen was concerned with However, rather than the light touch, the laughing eye, the pleased with herself cleverness that she seemed to delight in for nearly the entirety of Northanger Abbey with an exception to be dealt with later , Mansfield Park carries the voice of maturity and accordingly weightier concerns Unfortunately, it seems that, like Elizabeth, Austen has seenof the world and thethat she saw thethat she was dissatisfied with it A character flaw she could once dismiss or punish by making someone ridiculous in a party scene or a serious misstep that she could once smooth over and let Life Go On no longer seems so funny or so easily dismissed It s not a game anySo this, I think, is where the tone that puts many people off this book comes from a tone that can seem prudish, moralizing, humorless, and even bitter at points Who wants to watch when Beatrice, born to speak all mirth and no matter or so she can cleverly claim , suddenly gives up and stops laughing and seemingly becomes Lady Disdain in fact It s hard to see the harsh side of the intellect win out, even temporarily I m sure that s another major part of what put me off last time It s easier to call hard things names than see what they have to say and take it seriously.What a difference a fresh approach, with my eyes open to my own prejudices, made Coming to it with a clean slate meant that I could see Austen s brilliance from the very first page Austen s light touch sometimes means that, like the best grand masters, her handiwork is often hidden behind an absorbing story and characters that we are too involved with to pause to admire the brushstrokes and word choice that got us there But this time I was able to do that, man is she fantastically brilliant Let s take a moment to just demonstrate this through an examination of the masterpiece of a first chapterAbout thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of a handsome house and large income All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it.In two sentences, Austen gave her readers everything they needed to know about what this story was going to be about, what was going to be seen as important in this society, and something of the tone with which it was going to be treated I know that where, down to the specific town, that something happens, is of vital importance and can and will, in Austen s view, change all the action I know, to the letter, exactly the social level of the society that I will be dealing with and the sort of concerns and anxieties that that comes along with it.More than this, I can tell, right away, that this is a story of small and everyday concerns in a small society of populated by even smaller, busybody sorts of people And you know what She didn t use the word small once, or suggest that anything that was happening was small or insignificant in any way Instead, she uses the language and structure of clauses, adding increasing amounts of specificity to cut down the significance of her story bit by bit, about thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward, Huntingdon, county of Northampton, her uncle, the lawyer By the time we reach the end of her clauses, we have qualified ourselves into absurdity, and are in the mood for the first satiric cut at the values that support this social system.The tone is all perfectly reasonable observation, but the cuts continueShe had two sisters to be benefitted by her elevation, and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria did not scruple to predict them marrying with almost equal advantage But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women who deserve them It s quite skilled, what she does there She deliversinformation to us and starts to take us down an expected path of storytelling, with an appropriately fairy tale esque set of three sisters with differing fates who meet with a surprise that must be resolved We re settling in for a tale by a fireside and all of our expectations of that without even quite realizing it because her cover of wry wit keeps things moving along at a brisk pace But she has you now What happened to those other two sisters That means its time for another talent of Austen s, sorting and categorizing people into uncomfortably recognizable individuals that it is hard not to react strongly when you hear just oneof their spot on, of COURSE she did pronouncements She sorts through the sisters personalities by giving them the situation of their sister s marriage to a poor Marine to deal with and seeing how they react.It s interesting, because right off the bat, the narration doesn t make me want to totally condemn either sister Lady Bertram s placid indifference to the fate of likely soon to be in need of help sister seems almost as contemptible as Mrs Norris officious interfering and tale telling There could even almost be an argument to be made that Mrs Norris anger was justified, looked at from a certain point of view, and at least she didn t simply drop her sister from her life Sure, it was just likely to make trouble as anything, but it was doing something But it does let me know who they are, quite quickly I can already see how I think they move and walk, how they are likely to talk and the likely subjects that they will discourse on when they do I can see their gestures when they ring for tea and I know what their attitude to someone being late is likely going to be And she didn t tell me a word about any of that.The final missing piece is athorough examination of the morals and values that will provide the foundation for the actions and reactions of the novel Austen has already given me hints of itabout three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it, not so many men of large fortune as there are pretty women to deserve them could not possibly keep it to herself, but now is the time to lower the boom Therefore, the meat of the next several pages is taken up with working through the somewhat different thoughts of Mrs Norris and Sir Thomas on the subject of charity and generosity They examine a project, entirely conceived, proposed and pushed for by Mrs Norris, to adopt one of her poor sister s children Sir Thomas is hesitantHe debated and hesitated it was a serious charge a girl so brought up must be adequately provided for, or there would be cruelty instead of kindness in taking her from her family I only meant to observe, that it ought not to be lightly engaged in and to make it really serviceable to Mrs Price, and credible to ourselves, we must secure to the child, or consider ourselves engaged to secure hereafter, as circumstances may arise, the provision of a gentlewoman Mrs Norris soothes him that she ll be very involved with it and makes like she s going to give Fanny all her worldly possessions, and each of them decide to move forward, both of them rather pleased with themselvesThe division of gratifying sensations ought not, in strict justice, to have been equal for Sir Thomas was fully resolved to be the real and consistent patron of the selected child, and Mrs Norris had not the least intention of being at any expense whatever in her maintenance As far as walking, talking and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others, but her love of money was equal to her love of directing and she knew quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of friends though perhaps she might so little know herself, as to walk home to the Parsonage after this conversation, in the happy belief of being the most liberal minded sister and aunt in the world Therefore when Sir Thomas opens the not unreasonable subject of sharing responsibility for their new charge, there are a thousand excuses and not one single prayer of a chance that Mrs Norris will do anything material to help.By the time I am done with the first chapter, then, I understand the two understandings of morality that we will be dealing with in this book The first, the morality that is entirely of appearances and outward show, bent mostly on using it to accomplish personal aims and the second, a morality that is really actually concerned with finding and doing the right thing, and thinking through a situation to figure out what that right thing might be, despite the imperfections of a situation or person involved It s the difference between knowing what is right, but not being prepared to do anything about it, and a person who acts on that knowledge to the best of their ability It s already so muchinteresting and less black and white than many other possible paths that could have been taken.That took only eleven pages Slightly less than, in my edition, actually That s all, and I am already deeply familiar with the rules, official and unofficial wants and desires of the society we re in, I feel that I have a very good idea about who the people I am going to be spending time with are, and I know something about the sort of conflict I will be dealing with Moreover, I am invested in finding out how this charitable experiment works out, if only so I can hate watch Mrs Norris and her breathtaking awfulness I got so much information, without it ever feeling like the info dump that you get at the start of a fantasy novel Instead, Austen s version of the prologue did not concern itself with merely loading us up with names and atmosphere, but rather took a moment to accomplish the muchimportant task of building a bridge and connecting to the characters and the society of the novel But what about Fanny, you ask, insistently What are we to do with her Do we really have to just put up with her as a heroine for the sake of everything that comes along with it My answer is yes But only if you are absolutely determined to see her as a heroine, which would be a mistake and a waste of Austen s handiwork As we ve already seen in our examination of the first chapter, our main character is barely introduced, by name, and not at all for herself as a person She isn t chosen for her position based on drawing any swords out of stones or volunteering as tribute She s referred to as the girl, or the oldest girl, and taken for the random accident of her birth That makes sense, because Fanny is the product of her circumstances, first that of her birth and then the place where she was largely raised into adulthood Fanny is the expression of what an average, well meaning girl in her place might turn out to be But she is no heroine She s small and scared and timid She is constantly worried by what she should be doing or saying, constantly ready to read and react to the possible negative reactions of anyone around her It makes sense, it s a survival mechanism that probably contributed to her doing so well in this house It means, however, that her first reaction is always going to be, But wait, could I get in trouble for doing that God knows I have been told often enough that I am a sub human due to my birth and financial circumstances, and if I do something wrong, I could lose whatever precarious position I have Of course, half the time, Fanny is just pissing people off with this, coming off like she thinks she s superior or making them feel bad about their own moral choices, but she can t take the risk of doing something less than morally irreproachable, because the one time she decides to do that and it turns out that someone is in the mood to condemn her, she ll lose the only thing she has to trade on for her own self worth and, she thinks, her worth in the eyes of others her general impression of moral virtue that she s been able to gain for herself And that s not a small thing to lose for a girl who doesn t have the money or the title or the overwhelming beauty to make up for it All she has is, Fanny is a good girl, as an assurance of a place to eat and sleep of some minimal quality That s why it made so much sense that she would want a public and unanimous appeal to her to participate in the play, and only after some mishap made it necessary, in order to do it Although she admits that she would like to participate at some point, it s important that that s not why she s doing it She s not entitled to that sort of feeling of preference or doing things for pleasure, or so she thinks There s a brilliant line when the whole party goes to Southerton for a day outing that deals with this Mrs Norris is being all pissy because she wasn t able to exclude Fanny from going with them and getting all huffy about how grateful Fanny should be for the special, special beyond belief treat that her lowly drudge self does not deserve and Edmund just replies, rather sharply, Fanny will feel as grateful as the occasion warrants Like, lady, I see what you are doing there and GOD, you are exhausting I wouldn t take this as evidence of any consistent knight in shiny armor deal going on with Edmund, though, that might redeem this for you Another reason she is not a heroine is that you will be SO disappointed by her hero counterpoint if you try to think of it that way Barely even ONE tenet of Romantic happiness is evident here Edmund is a good enough sort of fellow He starts out in the second camp of people who really do try to do the right thing and think through situations to figure out what that right thing is However, that is increasingly compromised throughout the novel when he becomes obsessed with the newly arrived hot chick, Mary Crawford We then get, I would say, upwards of 100 pages of him joining the Mrs Norris dark side and convincing himself that what is selfishly best for him is also the right thing to do He s also just the most enormously pathetic sucker, hanging on to even the slightest evidence of Mary s care for him, dealing with her blowing hot and cold and blaming it all on her circumstances or the way that she was raised He even spends actual chapters trying to convince Fanny, obviously in love with him though Austen, again, just wonderfully, never actually says that she is in love with him out right, though she constantly implies it and assumes our knowledge of it as readers throughout , to marry Henry Crawford continued in the comments below ORIGINAL Dear Jane,Please accept my profound apologies for what I am about to write I would be most grateful if you would be inattentive to the following review Please believe in my most profound respect and adoration for you.Yours etc,KellySo, the writing is fine But the heroine is difficult to like I d havesympathy for her if there wasof a personality in there But her major character traits seem to be moralizing, correctness and dullness It is nothing like Austen s usual impressive characterization It was a chore getting through this.I wouldn t take this as representative of the rest of Austen s novels, in terms of tone or character I also would warn you that if you re a fan of the movie, you will probably not be a huge fan of the book This Fanny is not like that Fanny I can understand why the director changed her character and made that storyabout Austen I think this book could be pretty deathly on the screen otherwise I d really say skip this one, or at least try everything else first I m due for a re read, so we ll see if I change my mind or if perhaps I was seduced by the flash and sparkle of Lizzy, Emma, Elinor and Marianne But at this point I find it hard to recommend


  3. says:

    Most Austen aficionados agree that Pride and Prejudice is a great book Jane Austen thought it might be too light and bright and sparkling that its comedy might outshine its serious points but its continued popularity today indicates that her recipe for brilliance contained just the right ingredients.Yet a lot of modern readers loathe Mansfield Park, despite its being thought by others the greatest of all Austen s work What s going on here Frequently leveled criticisms Fanny is a stick Most Austen aficionados agree that Pride and Prejudice is a great book Jane Austen thought it might be too light and bright and sparkling that its comedy might outshine its serious points but its continued popularity today indicates that her recipe for brilliance contained just the right ingredients.Yet a lot of modern readers loathe Mansfield Park, despite its being thought by others the greatest of all Austen s work What s going on here Frequently leveled criticisms Fanny is a stick The moral stances against the Lovers Vows and against the Crawfords are baseless and pompous The marriage of cousins is not just disappointing, it s disgusting The ending is disappointing Edmund is a dreary hero Henry would have been much better a match for Fanny.Fanny is a stick The ink spilled about Fanny pegs her as physically weak, humorless, and worst of all she disapproves of innocent and harmless fun like the play for what seem to be self righteous reasons.Fanny s physical weakness seems easy enough to dismiss as a criticism However uninteresting continuous illness is for a modern reader unless it s a reader who loves hospital and doctor stories , that is actually a slice of reality 200 years ago Fanny s physical state is an observant portrait of a sensitive child who was never given the warmth of a fire in winter, who wore cast off clothing, and probably was fed last in the nursery, maybe even the leavings that the bigger cousins didn t want She gets a headache being cooped up indoors, suggesting allergies Aunt Norris made it her business to see that giving Fanny as much as her cousins got was unnecessary waste and Lady Bertram was too indolent to notice Sir Thomas had little to do with the children s upbringing, so he didn t see it either we discover this when he comes to the nursery for the first time, and discovers that Fanny has never had a fire in winter There is plenty of corroborative detail of this sort of treatment of poor relations raised as charity cases by wealthier relatives, if one reads period memoirs, letters, even sermons Aunt Norris says later in the book to Fanny Remember wherever you go you are always least and lowest, and no contemporary reader ever pointed this out as unbelievable.Fanny s character is retiring, but that s understandable considering the way she s been raised Austen who had a brother adopted into a wealthy relation s family seems to understand what it would be like for a young person to be taken from her home, crowded and humble as it was, to be raised in a completely different manner and manor Fanny is an acute observer, at least as acute as Mary Crawford is, and farcharitable Probably so, for Fanny was able to descry emotional changes in both Mary and Edmund as well as herreadable cousins, and Mary while seeing Julia s plight, and shrugging it off did not see Fanny s adoration for her Cousin Edmund Mary was also able to talk herself into believing Fanny s unswerving politeness to Henry, and her occasional flushes of anger, as expressions of love Fanny sees into everyone s heart, and feels for them all, deserving or not excepting only Henry She sees his love, but she does not trust it, or him Though Austen does say later she might have married him, after time if Edmund had married first.Fanny has no humor If you compare the number of moments of laughter, you ll find that Fanny exhibits farsense of humor than Anne in Persuasion or Elinor of Sense and Sensibility, much as I love both characters, especially Anne I suspect many readers overlook examples like this bit in Book One, Chapter XII, where Tom has just come in during a hastily arranged ball, and is bitching to Fannythey need all be in love, to find any amusement in such folly and so they are, I fancy If you look at them, you may see they are so many couple of lovers all but Yates and Mrs Grant and, between ourselves, she poor woman must want a lover as much as any one of them A desperate dull life hers must be with the doctor, making a sly face as he spoke toward the chair of the latter, who proving, however, to be close at his elbow, made so instantaneous a change of expression and subject necessary, as Fanny, in spite of everything, could hardly help laughing at A strange business this in America, Dr Grant What is your opinion I always come to you to know what I am to think of public matters After which Austen makes it clear that, despite the situation, Fanny cannot forebear laughing out loud Later, she and brother William talk and laugh in the coach all the way to Portsmouth I just can t see Anne Elliott cracking a smile in either situation The real sticking points are Fanny s disapproval of the Crawfords, and .The moral stance Fanny takes against the play I ve seen modern readers inveigh against this as a harbinger of lugubrious Victorianism They overlook the fact that in Austen s day, it was a sign of disrespect to carry on as if unconcerned when the head of the house was away, and in danger of his life And even now, who among us would like to make a long, fatiguing trip just to come home and discover that our own room out of all the rooms in a big house is the scene of an ongoing party As for the Crawfords and ther innate badness, Austen tries to show us attractive people who can be kind, are socially acceptable, but were raised without any but the most superficial moral awareness, much less conviction.Many feel that this novel is filled withdelicious wit and comedy than any of the others outside of Pride and Prejudice Contemporary psychology, psychiatry, and social sciences of various sorts worry anxiously at the nature versus nuture debate, as we try to figure out why we are the way we are Austen tries to show us that someone without morals may reform, but it takes time and effort as well as love And would Henry Crawford have reformed I ll come back to that.The marriage of cousins is disgusting No getting around that, not what with we know about genetics, so we grow up regarding our cousins as being as off limits as siblings On first reading Austen s novels, my then teenaged daughter was only slightly less repulsed by the marriage of cousins than she was at Emma s marrying a guy well old enough to be her father and who acts like oneoften than not But the truth is that these things were quite common during Austen s time And, given the sequestered lives country girls lived, it was a miracle if they met any young men outside of their handy cousins who presumably at least had the proper rank in life there was still a tendency for parents to feel it was better for older and wiser heads to select husbands for their innocent daughters, and handy male cousins, well known to the family, also rounded out estates nicely.Edmund is a dull hero Is he really dull He exhibits about as much of a sense of humor as does Mr Darcy, which is to say very little When he s with Fanny he is, at best, the kindly, well meaning, but rather patronizing older brother.In fact Edmund is at his worst in his scenes with Fanny He s insensitive and condescending he s a typical teen age boy in the early scene when he tries to talk Fanny into being glad to live with Aunt Norris Even his being a teenager is no excuse for such insensitivity, for he has to have observed her unsubtle cruelties Unless he believed that Fanny really was a second class member of the family which observation does not redound to his credit In all their other scenes, he s unfailingly kind except when he permits Mary to monopolize Fanny s horse, which is prompted by his crush on Mary , and when he tries first to to bully Fanny into participating in the play, and then he tries to bully her into marrying Henry despite his vaunted principles, which he knows Henry doesn t share, his motive being that giving Fanny to Henry will bring Mary closer to himself He does care about Fanny in his own peculiar way, but there is absolutely no chemistry he calls her Sister right until the end, when he wants to denounce his own sisters for straying from societal norms, so that Austen s unconvincing narrative that he fell in love after just the right amount of time carries a strong whiff of incest.Edmund also comes off poorly when he discusses Mary Crawford with Fanny, metaphorically wrinkling his nose over her rather free speech and attributing her frankly expressed opinions to bad upbringing He proves himself a first class hypocrite when he denounces the acting scheme, but then gives in because Mary wants to act and then he s so involved with Mary that he totally overlooks theserious trouble going on between his sisters over Henry The evidence is there Fanny sees it but Edmund doesn t.Mary falls for him in spite of herself, and here is our clue that the Edmund the family sees is not the Edmund the world sees She sees Edmund as a man and not as the family s moral windvane It s through her eyes that Edmund becomes mildly interesting He was not pleasant by any common rule, he talked no nonsense, he paid no compliments, his opinions were unbending, his attentions tranquil and simple She s fascinated by this kind of guy she s never met one before and in her company, Edmund comes alive In some of their passages he exhibits intelligence and even a faint semblance of wit I think the internal evidence is clear that, had they married, it probably would have been happy for a few months But once the reality of being a minister s wife really hit Mary, and the newness wore off, she would have felt imprisoned, and made Edmund s life hell That she craved some kind of peace and security was clear enough, but not as a minister s wife She knew her limitations, and was satisfied enough with herself to not wish to change.If one speculates, as I do, about what happens after the end of each novel, it s easy to see Edmund carrying a torch for Mary Crawford for the rest of his life and Fanny knowing it There s too much a sense of settling for second best when he marries Fanny which brings me to my own problem with this novel.In his essay on Mansfield Park in Lectures on Literature, Vladimir Nabokov says, An original author always invents an original world, and if a character or an action fits into the pattern of that world, then we experience the pleasurable shock of artistic truth, no matter how unlikely the person or thing may seem if transferred into what book reviewers, poor hacks, call real life There is no such thing as real life for an author of genius he must create it himself and then create the consequences The weakest point in Pride and Prejudice is the coincidence that brings Darcy and Elizabeth face to face at Pemberley Jane Austen tried to smooth it as much as she could, having had Mrs Gardiner grow up in the area, and making it possible for Elizabeth to visit because she is safe in the knowledge that the Darcy family are away But still, when he comes round the side of the stable and their eyes meet, it s an interesting moment, and a moment we hoped for, but not an inevitable moment.InMansfield Park, until the very last there are no coincidences Each action unfolds with dramatic integrity, flowing logically from the preceding Where the consequences falter is at the end of the third book, when Austen shifts from showing us the novel in a series of exquisitely detailed scenes Abruptly the story is tucked away and the narrator steps up and addressed the reader directly, telling us what happened We are told what happened, we re told why, and in short, we re told what to believe.Austen kept the subsequent actions off stage because delicacy dictated such a course A lady would not show Henry s crucial decision to run off with Maria Bertram Rushworth making some readers think it an arbitrary decision We re told in Austen family lore that Jane s sister Cassandra begged Jane to end the book differently, with Fanny marrying Henry, but Jane was obdurate.I suspect that Jane Austen intended this bit to be the convincing piece of evidence against Henry He saw Mrs Rushworth, was received by her with a coldness which ought to have been repulsive, and have established apparent indifference between them for ever but he was mortified, he could not bear to be thrown off by the woman whose smiles had been so wholly at his command he must exert himself to subdue so proud a display of resentment it was anger on Fanny s account he must get the better of it, and make Mrs Rushworth Maria Bertram again in her treatment of himself.This passage echoes his first conversation alone with Mary, when he decides so idly to make Fanny fall in love with him We already know from earlier evidence he likes the chase Never all the way to marriage He makes jokes about that With this decision about Fanny, we see that he stirs himself to action if any woman resists his flirtation, even someone as insignificant as Fanny early on in his pursuit, he can t even remember if he saw her dancing, though he professes to remember her grace.But saying that Henry pursues Fanny all the way to proposing marriage just because she resists him is too simple The reason he doesn t ask Maria Bertram to marry him when she s dropped as many hints as she can that she s not only willing, but expecting a proposal, is that though he finds her extremely attractive all those rehearsals of the tender scene prove that he has no respect for her He knows she s selfish and a hypocrite, which is fine for idle flirtation Fanny is the first woman he respects And that respect might might be enough to change him, some readers think, before we re abruptly thrust out of the story, just to be told by the narrator that the deserving got their happy ending, and the others didn t.Finally, in Fanny s and Henry s relationship there is that fascinating element of the reformed rake, the taming of the beast, that was as much a draw to women readers in Romantic poetry check out Byron and the reactions from his audience, in old letters and articles as it is now I wonder if, in fact, readers 200 years ago were as disappointed with this ending as modern readers are now saying out loud, Well, this is the way it ought to be, but internally rewriting the story so that Henry does resist Maria s angry, selfish intentions despite her physical allure, and Fanny gets her passionate and reformed Henry, rewarding him with all that devotion and sensitivity that seems wasted on Edmund Opinions in Austen s circle seemed to have been mixed, and the book apparently did not sell as well as the others.Why did Austen end it the way she did Were Fanny s feelings for Edmund real love They don t read that way to me It could be my opinion is colored by Edmund s reactions to Fanny, for chemistry has to go two ways if it s to be sustained, but her admiration, sparked so early in her teens, seems the kind of crush romantic youngsters form and then grow out of She s clear sighted enough to see Edmund s faults concerning Mary, but she doesn t seem to see his other vagaries She does see Henry s faults, but at the very end, it seems she is slowly being won over through his alterations when they walk together in Portsmouth on a Sunday morning, energy sparks between them She cares for his opinion, she watches him It seems to me that this is the start of real love, the love of a mature woman But then, quite suddenly, it all is thrown away, theunconvincing because Austen resorts to telling us what to think, after an entire novel in which she had shown, so beautifully, living and breathing characters.Consistency, in Nabakov s sense, is sacrificed moral truth is firmly asserted, at the cost of artistic truth I don t blame that on Fanny, but on her creator


  4. says:

    Upping my rating from 3 stars to 4 on reread Mansfield Park isn t as easy to love as most of Jane Austen s other novels I m still a little on the fence with Emma, but I m going to give her another shot too one of these days years But it has a lot of insights to offer into the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of not just Fanny, but all of the other characters who live in and around Mansfield Park, a country manor in England Like Kelly says in her truly excellent review of this book, i Upping my rating from 3 stars to 4 on reread Mansfield Park isn t as easy to love as most of Jane Austen s other novels I m still a little on the fence with Emma, but I m going to give her another shot too one of these days years But it has a lot of insights to offer into the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of not just Fanny, but all of the other characters who live in and around Mansfield Park, a country manor in England Like Kelly says in her truly excellent review of this book, it s called Mansfield Park not Fanny or Foolishness and Awkwardness for a good reason The other thing that helped me was mentally repeating a mantra that stood me in good stead when I was rereading Rebecca last year This is not a romance novel If you read it with the standard romantic expectations, you re likely to be disappointed Our starry eyed view of romance and happily ever after is not the point of Mansfield Park and really not of any of Austen s other novels, Darcy and Wentworth notwithstanding Here it sabout the social commentary, and often about the ways people hurt others through their selfishness or lack of consideration.After rereading both Mansfield Park and Persuasion, I think that Fanny is just as good a heroine as Anne Elliot, and actually they have a lot in common in their personalities sensitive, rather shy, physically weak, kind hearted and giving to a fault Anne just got the benefit of a better romantic plot line and sorry, Edmund a farappealing hero in Frederick Wentworth.So once I stopped trying to squeeze Fanny and Edmund into the roles of romantic heroine and hero, I was able to appreciate how nuanced and realistically Austen drew these characters Fanny is the poor cousin who is taken in by her Aunt Bertram s family as a young girl She s a sensitive soul and a quiet personality, with an unfailing moral compass Fom the modern point of view she can be a bit of a prig at times, but she was following the social expectations for her time, especially for a dependent young woman.Fanny struggles with her health, partly because of her Aunt Norris unflagging and unasked for efforts to keep Fanny humble and always, always useful, and to save the Bertrams money at Fanny s expense her rooms are probably bitterly cold in winter there s never a fire in her sitting room until her inattentive uncle realizes it one day Aunt Norris, by the way, is a brilliant creation, a shockingly appalling person that still makes you laugh And Fanny also struggles with her unrequited love for her cousin Edmund, the only truly loving person in the Bertram family toward her So it s a rough blow for Fanny when the fashionable, self centered and worldly brother and sister team, Henry and Mary Crawford, blow into town and upend everything at Mansfield Park Edmund s sisters, Maria and Julia, fight over Henry s attention Maria s engagement to another man not posing much of an obstacle in her mind she d love to trade up personality and intelligence wise Edmund promptly falls for Mary Crawford, who can t quite believe she s really giving a second son and one who s going to be a clergyman the time of day Edmund is still absentmindedly kind to Fanny, but he s completely head over heels for Mary, to Fanny s vast chagrin.I never thought Mary quite as unworthy a person as Fanny does, though that may be my modern perspective talking Henry clearly starts out as a player and a user, but Fanny s sweetness and goodness start to change his jaded heart.Once I let Mansfield Park settle for another day or so, I m going to jump into Sherwood Smith s Henry and Fanny An Alternate Ending to Mansfield Park and see if she can convince me that, just maybe, Jane Austen got the ending wrong here.Initial comments Fanny always struck me as a sad sack, and Edmund as needing a nice big shot of testosterone so he could step it up a notch I really need to reread this one to see if I can developappreciation for the main characters.Maybe my problem is that I want all of my Austen heroines to belike Elizabeth Bennet


  5. says:

    Fanny Price s mother had two sisters as beautiful as she, one married an affluent gentleman Sir Thomas Bertram, and everyone said this would enable her siblings, to do the same Nevertheless little England hasn t enough rich men, to accommodate deserving ladies Another married a respectable quiet clergyman, with little money Sir Thomas s friend, Reverend Norris good yet dull , gets him a church and a cottage in Mansfield Park, Northampton, on his vast estate The kind Sir Thomas is very willin Fanny Price s mother had two sisters as beautiful as she, one married an affluent gentleman Sir Thomas Bertram, and everyone said this would enable her siblings, to do the same Nevertheless little England hasn t enough rich men, to accommodate deserving ladies Another married a respectable quiet clergyman, with little money Sir Thomas s friend, Reverend Norris good yet dull , gets him a church and a cottage in Mansfield Park, Northampton, on his vast estate The kind Sir Thomas is very willing to help the last of the sisters Still she has pride with a streak of stubbornness this young woman marries a coarse , hard drinking Lt in the marines, Mr Price, to the disgust of her family and soon her own regret The fertile Mrs Price has nine children at the time, when our story commences there will beThe sister who married the clergyman wrote a letter to Mrs Price, to send a child of hers to Mansfield Park , to be raised in all the advantages that wealth can provide Mrs.Norris, strangely is not a nice woman, indeed just the opposite She likes to scheme though, when ten year old Fanny, arrives scared, homesick for her brothers and sisters especially William , a year older in fact the eldest child of the poor dysfunctional family Their father is disabled from the military with a small pension, but a big thirst, it doesn t benefit anyone that he still gets drunk everyday The lonely, timid girl, meets her aunt and uncle, she is quite reserved, and her gorgeous cousins, Maria, 13, and Julia, a year younger, and the boys, wild Tom, 17, and gentle Edmund, 16, they have nothing in common.The girls have a teacher in the mansion, Fanny joins them , in class, she feels isolated and miserable, this unfamiliar environment, is frightening and the cousins, while not mean, aren t really friendly either Living upstairs in a cold modest room , Fanny, develops tremors in this place, whenever her terrifying uncle , speaks to her Aunt Bertram, is the laziest woman on Earth seldom leaving her sofa, though basically an agreeable person, that is always tired You can t say that about the other aunt, Mrs.Norris, who lives a short distance away , and comes constantly to Sir Thomas s opulent house, she increasingly grows to hate Fanny Why Maybe the clergyman s wife and now happy widow, thinks the little girl is an intruder, too low bred to fit into a classy upper class family, and will hurt their standing in society She, when older will not go to balls with her cousins, to afraid even if asked to come, but is never invited, of course to Fanny s relief Yet the girl is becoming beautiful, which nobody notices, not even her only friend cousin Edmund, who has eyes for another woman, pretty , lively, rich Mary Crawford the sister of Edmund s friend Henry , the handsome pleasure seeker with money, too, he likes to flirt with every attractive woman, it doesn t hurt that he is fabulously wealthy, unlike the second son, Edmund, studying to be a minister Which Miss Crawford, abhors not enough salary for her taste And Edmund wants to marry , Mary, jealous Fanny nevertheless becomes secretly enad of her sweet cousin Henry tells Fanny , who knows all his foibles after properly disclosing it to Sir Thomas, this his love for her, and receiving permission to proceed, yet she greatly dislikes him An ungrateful woman of 18, how can she refuse a honorable proposal such men, are scarce He has flirted with Maria and Julia both liked it, before, but will she ever trust his love This book will show again why Jane Austen was and is such a magnificent writer , to those few who doubt this obvious conclusion


  6. says:

    The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees.I want money The Flying LizzardsThis is the last of Austen s books that I ve finally finished, a goal I ve been working towards since I was sixteen I saved this one for last because although it s one of my favorite films, it seemed like it would be a clunky and slow paced novel I was definitely wrong Maybe it s the timing of it This book will forever remind me of my grandmother s passing She passed away two w The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees.I want money The Flying LizzardsThis is the last of Austen s books that I ve finally finished, a goal I ve been working towards since I was sixteen I saved this one for last because although it s one of my favorite films, it seemed like it would be a clunky and slow paced novel I was definitely wrong Maybe it s the timing of it This book will forever remind me of my grandmother s passing She passed away two weeks ago on the 17th of July at 5 32 am, ten days after her seventy seventh birthday.I carried this book with me to hospital, I pulled all nighters making sure to administer grandma s morphine punctually so her breathing wouldn t be labored, I hunkered my bulk down in her hospice provided hospital bed to sleep next to her when she was agitated, and when I finally did have a few hours to rest, this book was by my side Dear Fanny Price, thank you for keeping me company.I know she is by far the most unusual of Austen s characters For one, she lacks the loving support and shelter of her family, something we take for granted with all of Austen s other heroines Although meek and shy, she is by no means stupid or unopinionated Her judgements and assessments of those around her are astute her sarcasm of a sort that made me giggle on many occasions.A simple hearted naturalist surrounded by materialistic, money grabbing hypocrites, it s no wonder she seeks comfort and love in the only other outsider among the Bertrams her cousin, Edmund While his steadfast loyalty to Mary Crawford was at times annoying, it was entertaining And out of all of Austen s plots, this one seemed the most plausible and realistic, next to Persuasion My absolute favorite has always been Sense and Sensibility, but I m not sure if it will stand up next to Mansfield Park after an overdue rereading I was in my early teens when I first read it


  7. says:

    You can t see me right now but i m rolling my eyes so hard i can see the back of my head.


  8. says:

    I have seen no small amount of reviews toting Fanny Price as Austen s least likable heroine, and to be honestI m not sure where they get that impression from Granted, Fanny s characteristics often shine by what they are not, next to the undesirable character traits of those around her..but does this appropriateness of demeanor, attention to honor and morals, and respect toward elders especially the ones least deserving of it truely mean she is not fit for her lead status I think not A I have seen no small amount of reviews toting Fanny Price as Austen s least likable heroine, and to be honestI m not sure where they get that impression from Granted, Fanny s characteristics often shine by what they are not, next to the undesirable character traits of those around her..but does this appropriateness of demeanor, attention to honor and morals, and respect toward elders especially the ones least deserving of it truely mean she is not fit for her lead status I think not Austen s world is full of societal values so foreign to us now, that perhaps we don t know how to appreciate the beauty of modesty when it is truly expressed, and not showcasedperhaps we are unable to look favorably on a woman that is not rebelling externallyfor fear she is too prude Is that now mutually exclusive for heroine status But here is the truth to this world so concerned with appearances.Fanny Price is indeed a daring character after all She was brought up in a world foreign to her, and was raised by a constant discussion of her inferior status It is from this perspective that our heroine decides the only place she can rebel from is her heart.and in loving where she should dare not.she becomes one of Austen s strongest characters.Personal strength does not equal likabilityand so here perhaps is where the criticisms liebut I ll take a strong lead character over a selfish, inconstant, or fickle one any dayso in my book.she s just right


  9. says:

    I have a feeling that Fanny Price islike the real Jane Austen than, let s say, Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse I think Jane wanted to be like Elizabeth and Emma, but she knew she was really Fanny The book had a different feel to it than the others,serious characters,real life issues All in all, I liked it I would rate it somewhere in the middle of the pack of her novels But Fanny is one of my favorite Jane Austen heroines.


  10. says:

    This edition of Mansfield Park comes with a great introduction and notes, containing interesting information about the publication of this novel and historical context.I have been a huge Jane Austen fan ever since I first saw PP and shortly thereafter read the novel, leading to me falling in love with the dignified wit and sass this author has had It can t have been easy in her time, which makes me appreciate her dry humour and social criticism even .A fair warning to you all I cannot This edition of Mansfield Park comes with a great introduction and notes, containing interesting information about the publication of this novel and historical context.I have been a huge Jane Austen fan ever since I first saw PP and shortly thereafter read the novel, leading to me falling in love with the dignified wit and sass this author has had It can t have been easy in her time, which makes me appreciate her dry humour and social criticism even .A fair warning to you all I cannot review this book properly without giving away its content, so there will be unhidden spoilers We start off this book with the wedding of three sisters One Lady Bertram marries rich Sir Thomas, one Mrs Norris marries a clergyman, and one Mrs Price marries a Royal Marine The latter marriage unfortunately leads to poverty due to an injury honourable discharge with a meagre pension of the husband Into this family Fanny is born as the eldest of 9 children One day her mother decides to give 10 year old Fanny Price to her aunt to live and be tutored at Mansfield Park Lady Bertram s estate until she gets married Unfortunately, the aunt isn t exactly very interested in any children not even her own and the rest of the family don t treat Fanny too well either especially Mrs Norris, her other aunt, on whom Sir Thomas relies heavily because of his wife s apathy Except for when Fanny is denied proper heating, leading to sickness, it s the perfect example of polite mobbing This was actuallymaddening than if they had hit her constantly.The only person Fanny can lean on is her cousin Edmund second son of the Bertrams The others are well, Tom is either drunk or gambling and the girls are spoilt snobs that I just wanted to hit continuously It doesn t help that the oldest girl, Maria, gets showered with compliments and affection from Mrs Norris while Fanny is always reminded of how poor she is and that she should just be grateful to be allowed to live at Mansfield Park although she is a burden.Anyway, 6 years later, Sir Thomas leaves to go deal with some trouble at his plantation in Antigua and it is this plantation that is Jane Austen s strongest political criticism I have ever seen Many say it was just a way to get Sir Thomas away for a while so the other events could unfold, but Jane Austen could have come up with something less tricky than Antigua No, this witty author knew exactly what she was doing Because yes, back then Antigua was a British colony and slavery was still very common Which means that a big part of the Bertram fortune if not all comes from slavery of all things We see how bad it is when Sir Thomas takes his oldest son along to make him grow up but the experience shatters poor Tom and makes his drinking problem only much worse.While Sir Thomas and Tom are away, match making for the oldest Bertram daughter the aforementioned brat Maria is taking place Also, the Crawfords brother and sister arrive and what can only be described as a romantic mess ensues The Crawfords are often described as worldly Well, I have some other choice words for them Tom comes back from Antigua earlier than his father and together with his friend Yates and the Crawfords, a play is rehearesed that is, let s say, of dubious moral character for the time However, everyone but Fanny participates In fact, Fanny seems to be the only one not blinded by pretentiousness When Sir Thomas comes back to find the whole house engaging in flirtation under the pretense of rehearsing for the play, he is very upset but at least finally sees that Fanny is a good young woman and not just some burden.A lot of other stuff happens, like Maria getting married to a man she doesn t love in order to be well off as is expected of her and Henry Crawford goes after Fanny first because he wants to play a game, then because her rejection intrigues him Fanny however refuses him, much to Sir Thomas anger who thinks she is ungrateful you know, because the poor girl should be so flattered to get a proposal from someone as well off as Henry Crawford In order to teach Fanny some humility, he therefore sends her home to her parents and what a desolate place that is The contrast between peaceful Mansfield Park and the dirty, desolate Portsmouth could not be extremer and illustrates another powerful political criticism of the author while at Mansfield Park, everyone can pretend life is good, but in reality there are other places that are off much worse, and not everything about the Regency era smells like roses.We also get the theme of adultery through Henry Crawford and Maria Maria s husband files for divorce after the affair is made public and she is not only shunned in society but the family sends her off to live in another country to keep the scandal as far away from them as possible while Henry Crawford who could have saved the situation by marrying Maria but refused gets away unscathed In this climate Fanny returns to Mansfield Park where Tom has fallen ill all the drinking had to have some negative effect at some point , the younger daughter Julia has eloped with Tom s friend Yates because she feared her father s anger she knew about the affair but kept quiet , and Mary Crawford actually says to Edmund that Tom dying would be a great opportunity for him she and Edmund were romantically involved but she always wanted him to beambitious she also defends her brother s affair, only lamenting that it was discovered and she actually blames Fanny for the whole thing Thus, everyone finally realizes that even a person that comes from money can be rotten Edmund is shattered but upon reflection sees how important Fanny is to him and proposes to her Tom gets better, is a changed man, and Yates turns out to be a good husband Fanny finally takes her place as the moral compass of the Bertram family.So this novel is one big exploration of morals We have Sir Thomas who wants his house in order, commands respect and values morals but makes money off slavery and sends his own daughter away to distance himself from scandal.We have Tom who can t deal with the ugliness of real life We have Maria who just wants to be loved and therefore does the completely wrong thing We have Edmund who knows better but is blinded We have Mrs Norris who goes on and on about class and money, not realizing that the burden actually is the only good person at Mansfield Park We have the Crawfords with their materialism and their arrogant view that, because of their social status, they are allowed whatever they want We have Yates, who stayed by Tom s side and later takes great care of Julia And, finally, we have Fanny herself who starts out completely blue eyed, then getsanddisillusioned, but always keeps her heart in the right place.This book never made it into my top 3 of Jane Austen s body of work but maybe it should I mean it s the only one in which Jane Austen went this far with her criticism not only of society for its treatment of women, but also of politics I didn t like Fanny too much as a character because she was far too passive for my taste and the whole pining for Edmund was annoying but because of the typically beautiful writing style, wit and dry humour in certain situations I didn t mind.Also, what s up with Edmund I mean, I m buying into his infatuation with Mary Crawford but after finally realizing what a bad woman she is, he swears to never get over her only to propose to Fanny 5 minutes later Marriage was different back then, sure, but we re supposed to believe that it s LOVE between Fanny and Edmund and I just don t see it.So yeah, lots of thoughts after re reading this book and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants an intelligent classic with a brilliant writing style and lots of important themes