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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
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Mansfield Park (1814)

by Jane Austen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,937280162 (3.84)5 / 1002
  1. 121
    Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (Medellia)
    Medellia: Both books have sweet, shy, thoroughly virtuous protagonists, if you're a fan of that sort of character. (I am, and loved both novels!)
  2. 70
    Lover's Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: The play they are rehearsing in Mansfield Park. Worth a quick skim.
  3. 10
    Celia's House by D. E. Stevenson (atimco)
    atimco: Very similar plot.
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English (267)  Italian (4)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (279)
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
While I admire Jane Austen’s eloquent language, a gripping plot is not in evidence here. I didn’t expect fast-paced excitement, but did hope for something deeper.

Although I found the heroine of the piece endearing, she’s too placid and timid to add any sparkle to the tale.

My attention was held by various interesting scenes, and because of these I intended to rate the book three stars, until I read the last chapter.

Without giving anything away, this is among the poorest closing chapters I’ve read by any author. Not because of what happens, but because of how the final events are presented. Nothing is dramatized. The third-person narrator *tells* us what happened, so we don’t get to *see* any of it. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Sep 26, 2018 |
Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park has been on my bookshelves for years and I took it away on holiday thinking I might get round to reading it at last. A couple of novels later and I started in on Austen’s longest book and found that I could hardly put it down. A beach read, it is not as it presents problems for the modern reader that must be overcome, before enjoyment completely takes hold, but when it does it provides an immensely satisfying read. Banyuls-sur-Mere is a pretty little town on the French Mediterranean coast and one that I love to visit, but this trip will be remembered for the time I spent on the balcony of my holiday apartment clutching my copy of Mansfield Park.

I had no internet connection and so there were no distractions, but this meant also that I could not google for background information and so this first reading was very much a first impression. I have read other novels by Jane Austen and so it was not a complete leap in the dark, but it did lead me to think of issues that modern readers might face, when approaching this book for the first time.

Austen’s sentence structure and syntax can be a little confusing, especially when she is reporting conversation. It is not always easy to understand who is saying what to whom: she also writes the occasional word in a paragraph in italics which I presume is for emphasis, but this style is not much used today. An omniscient author writes the first three chapters and by this time Fanny Price (the heroine) is approaching seventeen; most of the subsequent events are seen through her eyes, however Austen does add her own commentary from time to time and the reader has to be aware whether the views expressed are authorial or those which Fanny might be saying or thinking.

The novel was published in 1814 at a time when Europe was still engaged in the Napoleonic wars, the French revolution was still very much in the minds of many educated people and Austen’s novel reads for the most part like a celebration of English traditions and manners. It is almost as though the industrial revolution had not yet taken place as the novel is firmly situated amongst the genteel rich patrons of the English countryside. The class system is firmly in place and in Austen’s characters views, everybody should know their place and more importantly for the most part keep to it; rights according to birth are sacrosanct. It is a novel that looks backwards to a golden age rather than forward to a changing society, respect for ones betters according to birthright is the accepted norm.

In Austen’s world family and property defines who you are and people are judged by their manners, politeness and how well they do by their family. The family grows rich together and marriages are seen as a means of enhancing a family’s connections: arrangements are made and while suitability is a consideration; love is something that may develop in time, but is mostly accepted as not being prerequisite for an ideal marriage. Feminism has no place in this society and although readers might be encouraged to admire the resolve of female characters, they will find them castigated if they stray too far from accepted family values.

The profession of clergymen was still at this time the most likely avenue for the second son of a well to do family. In Mansfield Park the first son (Tom) will inherit everything and so it is Edmund who will follow the traditional career path as the second son. For Edmund being a clergyman is a vocation. He sees it as a unifying force within his community and he will do his best to succeed in guiding his flock for the betterment of mankind, prayers, sermons and preaching are essential requisites for the community. Edmund is the steady hand of tradition in his family and the son most admired.

Throughout the novel there is resistance to change. The fashion for landscape gardens advocated by Henry Crawford is a step to far for Edmund. Sir Thomas Bertram head of the family is an authoritarian figure who immediately puts a stop to a theatrical event at his house. Fanny Price the adopted daughter of the Bertram household is perhaps the most resistant of all to change and it is she as the central character that seems to pose the most problems for readers. She is non-assertive, meek, mild and an upholder of family values. She seems always to put other people first and suffers in silence as a result. But this novel is essentially a bildungsroman and Fanny Price’s development as a person becomes a shinning example to some of those around her; Edmund, Tom, her brother William, Sir Thomas himself are all affected by her good heart, her respectability and finally an inner strength. She is the embodiment of all that a woman should be to fit into this patriarchal society and this in depth study demonstrates the qualities and strengths needed to uphold the values in which she instinctively believes.

The raison d’être for the novel is of course a romance. The Bertram family have two sons and two daughters of marriageable age. Maria Bertram the beauty of the family marries for money and position, with the wholehearted support of the family, her sister Julia tries to make her own opportunities. Edmund falls in love with Miss Mary Crawford a society woman of independent means, but she does not wish to marry a clergyman. The central love story is Mary’s brother the forward looking wealthy Henry Crawford who falls in love with Fanny after a dalliance with the two Bertram sisters. A match that would seem to be a superb opportunity for an adopted daughter with few prospects. Fanny against all advice rejects Henry, she finds him fascinating, with some good qualities, but she does not love him and most seriously of all she cannot trust him. The third part of the novel is Henry’s continued pursuit of Fanny; a suit that causes her grief and pain.

Austen takes her readers into the world of Regency splendour. The culture and manners of that society are brilliantly evoked. There are some amazing set pieces; the amateur production of the play Lovers Vows, Fanny’s first trip out with her new family to Sotherton, her coming out ball and her banishment back to her working class family in Portsmouth. At the centre of everything is Fanny Price’s world and inner world views. It is steady, respectable, dutiful and gracious, which makes her at times seem almost an anti-heroine, she is physically weak and lacks assertiveness, but her strength is her firm belief in tradition and family values.

To appreciate this novel fully one must not judge Mansfield Park by modern standards or by equality of opportunity. It is a different world brought richly to life and full of characters whose human frailties can be ameliorated by a central character; a virtuous woman working away quietly amongst them. The story is a good one, once the reader gets used to the writing style and has got further into the novel than the story setting it becomes a page turner. So much to enjoy, a fabulous reading experience and five stars. ( )
  baswood | Sep 10, 2018 |
"Here's harmony!" said she; "here's repose! Here's what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here's what may tranquilize every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene."

In “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen

Many eons ago I was reading Austen's "Mansfield Park" in high school when the leader of a group of teenagers commented on the "puff with the specs reading girlie books." I paid him no mind at that particular moment. I waited till I could catch him alone in the playground without his bunch of cronies around him. I asked him then if he'd care to repeat what he'd said before. He said he didn't. The old adage you can't judge a book by its cover surely applies to the title as well. What's next? Nick Hornby's "About a Boy" should only appeal to paedophiles? "Animal Farm" to sheep-shaggers (or more accurately pig-shaggers). Such immature, hating comments belong in the 1970s.

My favourite books? "Jane Eyre", "Madame Bovary" and "Sister Wendy's Book of Saints" are in my top 100. And, yes, I am male. And yes, I would happily walk into a crowded bookshop and order the aforementioned books without feeling emasculated. Personally I am not sure the supposed "girly" title of a book has ever made me sneak up to the counter ashamedly to buy the book, nor has an overtly "mannish" title made be puff out my chest and slam in down on the counter. It seems a long time ago now since such base gender divisions have mattered. With the rise of the metro-sexual, moisturising cream and Russell Brand dictating what half of London wears, I just can't think that a lot of modern men would be concerned by a title such as "Persuasion", or "Emma". Not enough to not consider reading past the title and at least having a glance at the back cover anyhow. If I think back, I was never embarrassed to read a "girly" title on the tube and they were the formative years of my teens. However, at the time, I also had long hair, Doc Martens and listened to Queensrÿche.

I am man. I eat meat, sleep and breed. I don't like pink and I don't like art galleries. I like football. - We don't all think like this, just a few men but don't worry these men don't read books, they read glossy magazines at the dentist. So next time someone grunts when you offer him two titles, don't entertain his masculinity - he'll only like that. Instead point him to the magazine rack. There'll he can read Zoo to his hearts content.

To see Jane Austen's novel as romantic rubbish is pretty short-sighted. On the surface some readers may be right but what she really was writing about was the society she lived in and how it worked. It's a depiction of her reality and in many instances, and it's also critique of that world. Not in your face but most her novels have a strong ironic tone. She wrote novels of behaviour and about society in the early 1800s. People misunderstand her books because she paints on such a small canvas. It's like comparing a jewelled miniature by Nicholas Hilliard to a huge Titian canvas, full of life and swagger. The small scale makes it easy to overlook things or to misunderstand them, but in fact there's an awful lot more going on in an Austen book than meets the casual eye. I like Fanny Price, although she's not a character I'd like to have a cuppa with but a great one to read about. I always admired her for refusing Henry Crawford without spilling the beans. Fanny Price is not "prim". Repressed and dutiful certainly. There is a different word beginning with "p" that describes her to a tee: petrified. She knows she isn't a full member of the family, hence her repression and dutifulness, and at all times feels and is made to feel that she could be dismissed back to her parents' over full house at a moments notice. That is why I believe she opposes and is expected to oppose the staging of the play while her uncle is away. In a sense she has been trained to be the guardian, governess and companion but never the full complete member of the household. Emma, though is a prize cow, a big fish in a little pond and I always skip her in my annual Jane Austen re-read.

NB: I like football. But I'm a rugger at heart. ( )
  antao | Sep 6, 2018 |
Not my favorite Austen, but I read it when I was like 11 so maybe I need to reread it? ( )
  jlydia | Jun 25, 2018 |
If I liked Fanny Price more, this would be my favorite Austen novel. As it is, I still think it is very very good and possibly the funniest of the bunch. But oh, Fanny, why didn't you marry Henry Crawford? You and Edmund bring out each other's worst and least attractive tendencies. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Austen, Janeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agujari Bonacossa, DianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonacossa della Valle di Casanova, EsterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claybaugh, AmandaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dobson, AustinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drabble, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, MaggiePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mudrick, MarvinAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, JosephinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, CarolinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, KathrynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, TonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, TonyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, HughIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiltshire, JohnPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zuidema, BenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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 consequences of an handsome house and large income.
Mansfield Park is Jane Austen's most dramatic and disturbing work. (Introduction)
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But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.
It is Fanny that I think of all day and dream of all night.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Adopted by the rich Bertrams, Fanny finds her bold cousins are daunting, her aunts and the remote Sir Thomas intimidating. Only thoughtful Edmund recognises her qualities and helps to improve her lot. But when the delightful Mr and Miss Crawford arrive to enliven the family group, even he dismisses Fanny's reservations. At first all is excitement and pleasure. Gradually, however, the effects of recklessness and selfishness accumulate. As Fanny's unswerving integrity and quiet strength become the support of the shattered family, she finds a happiness she could not have anticipated. While displaying the sparkle and clarity for which Jane Austen is renowned, the tone here is often sober and uncompromising. The issues of probity and responsibility are explored, alongside the often unhappy complexities of family life, in a considerable and profoundly satisfying novel.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141439807, Paperback)

Though Jane Austen was writing at a time when Gothic potboilers such as Ann Ward Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto were all the rage, she never got carried away by romance in her own novels. In Austen's ordered world, the passions that ruled Gothic fiction would be horridly out of place; marriage was, first and foremost, a contract, the bedrock of polite society. Certain rules applied to who was eligible and who was not, how one courted and married and what one expected afterwards. To flout these rules was to tear at the basic fabric of society, and the consequences could be terrible. Each of the six novels she completed in her lifetime are, in effect, comic cautionary tales that end happily for those characters who play by the rules and badly for those who don't. In Mansfield Park, for example, Austen gives us Fanny Price, a poor young woman who has grown up in her wealthy relatives' household without ever being accepted as an equal. The only one who has truly been kind to Fanny is Edmund Bertram, the younger of the family's two sons.

Into this Cinderella existence comes Henry Crawford and his sister, Mary, who are visiting relatives in the neighborhood. Soon Mansfield Park is given over to all kinds of gaiety, including a daring interlude spent dabbling in theatricals. Young Edmund is smitten with Mary, and Henry Crawford woos Fanny. Yet these two charming, gifted, and attractive siblings gradually reveal themselves to be lacking in one essential Austenian quality: principle. Without good principles to temper passion, the results can be disastrous, and indeed, Mansfield Park is rife with adultery, betrayal, social ruin, and ruptured friendships. But this is a comedy, after all, so there is also a requisite happy ending and plenty of Austen's patented gentle satire along the way. Describing the switch in Edmund's affections from Mary to Fanny, she writes: "I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people." What does not vary is the pleasure with which new generations come to Jane Austen. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:55 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Fanny Price, a teenaged girl of low social rank brought up on her wealthy relatives' countryside estate, feels the sharp sting of rejection when her cousin Edmund, the only person who treats her as an equal, is won over by a flirtatious, exciting--and unprincipled--London girl.… (more)

» see all 58 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439807, 0141028149, 0451531116, 0141197706, 0141199873

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2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175927, 1909175536

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