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From its sharply satiric opening sentence Mansfield Park deals with money and marriage and how strongly they affect each other Shy fragile Fanny Price is the consummate poor relation Sent to live with her wealthy uncle Thomas she clashes with his spoiled selfish daughters and falls in love with his son Their lives are further complicated by the arrival of a pair of witty sophisticated Londoners whose flair for flirtation collides with the uiet conservative country ways of Mansfield ParkWritten several years after the early manuscripts that eventually became Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice Mansfield Park retains Austen’s familiar compassion and humor but offers a far complex exploration of moral choices and their emotional conseuences


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 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 Harleuin romance because that's not what they are as this book shows The love story and the happily ever after element are a lot prominent in PP and SS but in Mansfield Park it is definitely less important than the social commentary


  2. 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 ingredientsYet 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? Freuently 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 FannyFanny 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 reasonsFanny'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 unbelievableFanny'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 far charitable Probably so for Fanny was able to descry emotional changes in both Mary and Edmund as well as her readable 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 firstFanny has no humor If you compare the number of moments of laughter you'll find that Fanny exhibits far sense 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 Fanny they 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 mattersAfter 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 convictionMany feel that this novel is filled with delicious 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 thatThe 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 one often than not But the truth is that these things were uite common during Austen's time And given the seuestered 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 nicelyEdmund 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 brotherIn 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 incestEdmund 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 the serious trouble going on between his sisters over Henry The evidence is there Fanny sees it but Edmund doesn'tMary 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 tranuil 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 changeIf 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 novelIn 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 conseuencesThe 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 momentIn Mansfield Park until the very last there are no coincidences Each action unfolds with dramatic integrity flowing logically from the preceding Where the conseuences falter is at the end of the third book when Austen shifts from showing us the novel in a series of exuisitely 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 believeAusten kept the subseuent 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 obdurateI 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 himselfThis 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 graceBut 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'tFinally 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 othersWhy 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 uite suddenly it all is thrown away the unconvincing because Austen resorts to telling us what to think after an entire novel in which she had shown so beautifully living and breathing charactersConsistency 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


  3. 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 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 the mantra that stood me in good stead when I was rereading Rebecca This is not a romance novel If you read it with the standard romantic expectations you're likely to be disappointed A 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's much about the social commentary and often about the ways people hurt others through their selfishness or lack of considerationAfter 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 sorrynotsorry Edmund a far appealing hero in Frederick WentworthOnce I stopped trying to sueeze 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 uiet 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 in line with the social expectations for her time especially for a dependent young womanFanny 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 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 laughAnd Fanny also struggles with her unreuited 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 sweep 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 uite 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 chagrinI never thought Mary uite 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 Mansfield Park is so insightful about people’s faults and foibles and personal relationships Just look somewhere else if you want a soul satisfying romanceBonus material After reading Mansfield Park I jumped into Sherwood Smith's Henry and Fanny An Alternate Ending to Mansfield Park to see if she could convince me that just maybe Jane Austen got the ending wrong here She is pretty convincing Give this a shot if you’re interested It’s one of the few JAFF Jane Austen fan fiction for the uninitiated works I think is really goodInitial review 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 develop appreciation for the main charactersMaybe my problem is that I want all of my Austen heroines to be like Elizabeth Bennet


  4. 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 notifiedAh 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 outNow 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 ueen 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 youMore 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 with than 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 timeLooking 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 and of 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 uneual 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 is interest 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 trueNeither 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 seen of the world and the that she saw; the that 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 any So 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 seriouslyWhat 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 chapter “About 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 conseuences 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 euitable claim to itIn 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 itMore 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 ualified ourselves into absurdity and are in the mood for the first satiric cut at the values that support this social systemThe tone is all perfectly reasonable observation but the cuts continue “She had two sisters to be benefitted by her elevation and such of their acuaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances uite as handsome as Miss Maria did not scruple to predict them marrying with almost eual 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 uite skilled what she does there She delivers information to us and starts to take us down an expected path of storytelling with an appropriately fairy tale esue 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 uite 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 one of 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 reactIt’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 uite uickly 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 thatThe final missing piece is a thorough 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 it “about three thousand pounds short of any euitable 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 hesitant “He debated and hesitated; it was a serious charge; a girl so brought up must be adeuately 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 themselves “The division of gratifying sensations ought not in strict justice to have been eual; 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 eual to her love of directing and she knew uite 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 helpBy 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 much interesting and less black and white than many other possible paths that could have been takenThat 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 much important 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 uality 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 thinksThere’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 exhaustingI 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 Crawfordcontinued in the comments below ORIGINAL Dear JanePlease 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 youYours etcKellySo the writing is fine But the heroine is difficult to like I'd have sympathy for her if there was of 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 thisI 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 story about 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


  5. says:

    The impossible happened I read something by Jane Austen and I didn’t give it five stars What is the world coming to? I don’t even know who I am any Though this was awfully dull Austen has never be renowned for her fast moving plots so I know what to expect when I go into one of her novels What makes her writing so compelling is the social commentary and the razor sharp wit The woman holds nothing back And she’s ever so subtle Her characters are often caricatures and she exploits them to demonstrate the folly of regency society A comment here a sly remark there and her narration sings a song of unreuited annoyance and anger all directed towards people who don’t realise how stupid they are So what happened here? Normally the narration sides with the heroine She’s often a bit naive and overcomes her initial prejudice or ignorance through the course of the plot But here Fanny felt absent for a large part of it She’s awkwardly uiet and distant within her own story Granted she’s pushed aside by the characters in the beginning because of her low both and correspondingly low social status compared to her highborn peers though I still want to hear her voice every so often At times I forgot she was even there I think books always struggle when the protagonist is so shy I found her the most uncompelling of Austen protagonists as she seemed unwilling to act on her misfortune Where was her fire? Where was her will to change her own fortunes? She just seemed to slip into the background like a tree or a coat stand in a stage set she was invisible And she was clearly in love from the get go but the man she was after clearly didn’t seem to notice the obvious and she just didn’t do anything about it The romance felt weak Fanny simply fell in love with the only man from high society who was ever kind to her The book was also terribly long which is fine if the characters are engaging But again Austen’s characters are anything but here Endless conversation was followed by endless conversation in a drawn out piece that did not need to be so long winded The plot did not move uick enough and it was terribly predictable Maybe I’ve just grown tired of her storytelling Modern critics pay particular attention to the mentions or whispers of slavery within the book though I don’t think there’s much substance beyond the fact that we know it is actually happening and that it’s the cause of England’s wealth I consider Persuasion the absolute best example of Austen’s writing and reassuringly so it is also her shortest novel As Shakespeare wrote sometimes less is 2 stars because despite it’s shortfalls this is still Austen Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia


  6. says:

    Jane Austen's take on Cinderella From the very first moment the reader knows just as well as Fanny herself that she is meant to marry Edmund But reader and heroine alike also know that by the social standards of Jane Austen that is a Mission Impossible Fanny is a true fairytale Cinderella raised by one negligent and one malevolent aunt at Mansfield Park She is reminded at all times that her cousins are superior to her in all respects and that she has to serve them and be grateful for the right to breathe the same air How is the issue going to be solved? The reader knows that Austen won't under any circumstances let any of her main characters marry beneath their entitlement and worth in money so a miracle is asked for and it is delivered in the form of a brutal scandal Ruthlessly the author attacks several male and female characters and commits reputation murder which favours her uiet and consistent favourite Fanny Price one of the few fictional women Jane Austen seems to have truly liked Fanny is not perfect as she is poor and capable of feeling both anger and jealousy but she definitely escapes the ridicule and humiliation which Austen has in store for the vain and shallow characters she despisesFanny's wedding in the end is one of the most satisfying Austen weddings I have attended figuratively speaking even though I would dread the kind of life she prefers That is the Austen conundrum in a nutshell in my opinion she makes me engage in and follow the path of characters that I wouldn't care for at all in real life and she makes me turn pages eagerly to figure out the denouement of a plot I wouldn't be bothered to even consider newsworthy in realityHers is a literary talent that crosses worldview borders


  7. says:

    35Fanny is one of my favorite Jane Austen protagonists She's often criticized for not being outspoken and fiesty like the other Austen leads but Fanny has a uiet strength that I love In the face of her manipulative and abusive family she stays calm and strong and refuses to budge on what's in her heart She fights for her own heart despite tremendous pressure and I love her so much for thatHowever the story was too long for the amount of content in it and the romance was almost an after thought thrown in in the final pagesIt's three stars because the plot and romance were lacking But Austen's writing is still an absolute joy to read and Fanny has my heart forever


  8. says:

    I hated Fanny Price I'm supposed to like her because she has a deep appreciation for nature understands her place in society is happy to be useful to her betters is pained to the point of tears when anyone other than Edmund pays any attention to her is gratingly proper and can't walk than 10 steps without having to sit down?Yes of that kind of heroine pleaseAnd as much as I disliked Fanny I loathed Edmund even He is one of those people who will adhere to the rules of society that he believes are right proper and just to the point of turning his back on family and friends who don't follow those rulesBut who doesn't find starchy and stifling to be the most incredibly sexy ualities in a man?I know he certainly melted my panties as the book wore onThese two were the WORST Was there ever a obnoxiously deserving couple ever created for literature? I think notYou know how everyone thinks that they are the hero of the story? Like even smug assholes and annoying twats they think they're justified to be smug assholes and annoying twats because of whatever douchy reasons they come up with Edmund FannyYou know who I liked? Mary Crawford Yes The villainess of the story is the only tolerable character in this thing In fact I'm not even sure she's a bad guy I found myself nodding along with almost everything she saidHer worst offenses were that she spoke her mind and thought church was boringview spoilerOk there was that bit where she was semi excited that Edmund's brother might die and make Edmund a rich dude not cool MaryBUTConsidering Edmund went to see her that last time just to say goodbye because she was tainted by what her brother Henry did with his sister so of course he couldn't try to woo Mary any? What an ass And then he was mortified that she thought they should forgive their siblings for their dalliance and welcome them back into society THE HORRORGet the fuck out of here and go marry your 1st cousin douchebag hide spoiler


  9. says:

    So thoroughly wonderful


  10. 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 uiet 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 be The 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 MrsNorris 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 uite 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 commonThe 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 MrsNorris 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