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  • Writer's pictureSiiri

My Thoughts After Reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Dearest reader,


Today, I can proudly say that I have read all the novels written by the legendary Jane Austen, and Mansfield Park was the last story to complete my education of Austen's Regency England. Therefore, I want to share some of my thoughts and observations of Mansfield Park and it's characters with anyone interested on the other side of the screen. As the less well known novel, for me, Mansfield Park was in many ways the most surprising read of all Austen's work and you will soon find out why!


THE FOLLOWING INCLUDES SPOILERS ON PLOT & CHARACTERS!


 


Mansfield Park is the more serious and

morally instructive out of all Austen's novels


Even though, the plot and inner lives of characters in Mansfield Park are dramatic and emotional in true Austen style, I felt the story less cheerful, less funny, less passionate even. There wasn't that burst of a true loves confession so synonymous with Jane Austen, nor invigorating conversations between characters. Instead, Mansfield Park - though excellently written and still very interesting and gripping - had a sense of awkwardness and exhaustion I had not expected. Therefore, I deeply regret to say that Mansfield Park is my least favourite of Austen's novels, but because of that, also one of the most thought-provoking reads.





Fanny Price is not your typical Austen heroine,

but the very image of a perfect wife


Fanny Price, the niece and foster child of Lady and Baronet Sir Thomas Bertram, is brought to Mansfield Park by the pity of her poorer conditions at home in Portsmouth. Being one of many siblings in a small town house she is asked to attend her aunt's household and recieve an education under guidance of Sir Thomas. Though Fanny consideres herself lucky she is a very shy, meek, modest and sometimes fearful girl who grows up to be a very sensible, sweet, feeling yet occasionally reserved young woman with a high idea of right and wrong.


As Fanny's life unfolds in Mansfield she becomes very fond of her cousin Edmund, her aunt Lady Bertram and Sir Thomas, but stays distant to other young people of the house: spoiled yet elegant Maria and Julia don't care much about Fanny while Tom, the playboy inheriting Mansfield, is too busy with his own businesses. One summer, when Sir Thomas is away, a seemingly pleasant Crawford siblings, Henry and Mary, arrive to Mansfield and so begins a tumultuous acquaintance that brings all kinds of troubles in form of a most unsuitable theater play, improper behavior, an elegant ball and a series of dangerous elopments.


–––


It is first unclear how Fanny, a people pleaser, sensitive and well-mannered a woman could ever live up to the status of a irrepressible, clever and bold Austen heroine? But there is one thing where Fanny is gorgeously superior over all other Austen's heroines: she is a perfect, unfaltering, infallible judge of character, a quality which Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse are surely envious about. For Fanny is never mistaken but always sees the true nature of everyone around her, especially the Crawfords, and she proves to be made of sterner stuff than you are first inclined to believe. In other words, Fanny is the master of her own mind.


What is more, in my opinion, Fanny is pictured as the very image of a perfect wife: morally good, innocent of all foul, pure in action as well as thought, attentive and greatful as well as enduring great emotional suffering. All of which makes her near unbearably dull if she wasn't so unwavering in her ideas of moral righteousness which ultimately makes the life of her most persistent (and most unsuitable) suitor agony.



A girl reading a book.
'Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions.' - Jane Austen, Mansfield Park


The story is a lesson on greed,

vanity and failed upbringing


Each Austen novel has a lesson and Mansfield Park shows that neither money, beauty nor social position guarantees good manners, pleasant character or pure intentions. It is a lesson on parenthood, human character and knowing your own mind. And lastly, like any good Austen book, Mansfiald Park warns us about the dishonorable, careless and selfish games of charming young bachelors, roaming on English soil in search of their next feminine victim.



Fanny ends up marriyng her cousin


Of course the novel ends with a marriage based on love and good judgement... but why, oh why does it have to be Edmund, Fanny's cousin and a long time crush! I understand that during Austen's time, in the early 1800s, it was perfectly normal to sometimes marry your cousin, still I cannot help but feel nothing but disappointment. It is as if Fanny's superb jugdement had a massive error on that occassion. Yes, Edmund is lovely, attentive, responsible, good-mannered and so on, but there would have been other men, other opportunities, other suitors amiable enough. Fanny is incrediably young, so naturally her romantic feelings would stick to the nearest handsome man who ever showed her kindness. Edmund should have understood this, but no, he wanted an agreeable, easy wife for his parsonage, a wife that would never cause trouble.



A book and a tea cup.



Miss Crawford's yearn for weatlh and position

in marriage is met with disgust by her contemporaries


Why is it, when Miss Crawford makes it publicly clear she wants to move up in society by means of an advantageous marriage, she is made to look either a villanious pretender or a rotten fool. But when Mr. Crawford pursues Fanny who has no affection for him, who continiously declares her unhappiness towards the proposal and who is in every other way superior to him except in weatlh and position, is congradulated by her excellent luck in catching such a man's attentions. The only difference between Miss Crawford and Fanny is that Fanny doesn't ask for wealth or fortune, and therefore, a proposal from a rich man to a modest woman is acceptable, while Miss Crawford, who dares be so bold as to say she wants more, meets the disgust of her contemporaries, and therefore, a proposal from a rich man to her would look like a greedy scheme.


Okay, fine! Maybe Miss Crawford is plotting something, maybe she is dishonest, maybe she's not a good girl but still I cannot find space in my heart to hate her for being bold, wanting more or simply being more than what she's suppose to be.



In conclusion and despite of my annoyance on the ending, Mansfield Park is a must-read if you are a fan of Austen, and although Fanny falls low on the list of my favourite heroines she is an interesting character worth knowing. Overall, the book was not a bad read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, however, it sparked a lot of different feelings, stronger feelings perhaps than Jane's other novels. Good, old Jane never ceases to amaze!



 

Have you read Mansfield Park?

What are your thoughts on it?


 

Yours truly,

Siiri


P.S. if you liked to post tap the heart below, so I know to make more like this!

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Guest
Mar 01
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Hi Siri!


I really love this post!


Regards,

Gwen

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Siiri
Siiri
Mar 11
Replying to

Thank you Gwen! I'm glad 💓

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