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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
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Mansfield Park (original 1814; edition 2012)

by Jane Austen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,571229138 (3.85)5 / 877
Member:ninefivepeak
Title:Mansfield Park
Authors:Jane Austen
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, English Fiction, Not in library, Borrowed from public library

Work details

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814)

  1. 101
    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. 60
    Lover's Vows (Dodo Press) by Elizabeth Inchbald (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: The play they are rehearsing in Mansfield Park. Worth a quick skim.
  3. 00
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (dreamydress48)
    dreamydress48: Scandal is the word of the day!
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Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
“The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees. I want money.” – The Flying Lizards

This 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.
2 vote dreamydress48 | Aug 2, 2015 |
You may be surprised to learn that my favorite Jane Austen novel is actually...Mansfield Park. I'm aware that this isn't the popular opinion. However, I don't give a hoot because I LOVE IT. Considering that I'm not a huge fan of drama or romance in general, this book is CHOCK FULL of drama and romance (and scandal oh my!). For those who haven't delved into this book, the story revolves around a young woman named Fanny Price who is sent to live with her aunt and her family when she is a young girl. From the very beginning, she is treated as an outsider and a lower class citizen among the members of her family except by her cousin Edmund. (Here is where I caution you all to remember the time period in which this book is written because otherwise you're gonna be all like SAY WHAT?!) The dynamics of the household are an odd mix of ambivalence, haughtiness, vanity, and neuroses. Then there's Fanny who is the embodiment of all that is lovely and pure but who is entirely overlooked and abused by her family...except by Edmund who she has come to admire greatly. (Do you see where this is headed?) Things start to get juicy when a brother/sister duo enter the neighborhood and rouse up trouble among the youths (picture the equivalent of ditching class to smoke cigarettes behind the gym but in Regency period England). Through it all, Fanny stays true to what she thinks is right despite the injustice of her situation. A lot of people find her character annoying and too morally rigid. However, I think they're missing out on the best parts of her character. Fanny stays firm to what she believes in and despite the temptation to give in and follow what everyone else is doing she rejects the easy path. The reader can clearly see her self-confidence and self-esteem bloom as the novel progresses. If you haven't read this fantastic classic by the inestimable Jane Austen then you are truly missing out. ( )
1 vote AliceaP | Jul 31, 2015 |
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.

I’ve noted before Austen’s predilection for inserting her authorial voice into her novels: in Sense and Sensibility she speaks in chapter XXXVI, and in Pride and Prejudice she appears at the beginning of the final chapter. And here she is at it again in Mansfield Park, at the start of chapter XLVIII (yes, the final chapter again) giving a succinct if ironic set of observations about the previous forty-seven chapters. She says it’s about the ‘odious’ subjects of guilt and misery; and those who have suffered from such miseries, though not totally innocent, will come to some sort of happy ending, while those who have peddled the misery and turned the knife in feelings of guilt will get their more or less just deserts. Have I committed the unpardonable sin of introducing spoilers or, this being a classic romance, is this what readers of the genre hope for and expect?

I’ll speak of guilt first. There is the guilt of those who knowingly but carelessly play with others’ feelings. There’s Mrs Norris, aunt of the young Fanny Price, who continually puts her down and unfailingly reminds her of her lowly status. There are her cousins Maria and Julia who, like Cinderella’s step sisters, feel superior not only in breeding but also in virtue (though without any cause). There’s Henry Crawford, who deliberately sets out to charm Fanny and her guardian uncle Sir Thomas Bertram, even as he has eyes for Fanny’s cousins. There’s Henry’s sister, Mary, who in chapter V approvingly joins in a discussion about victims being ‘taken in’ or duped by those wooing them. There’s Fanny’s father, Lieutenant Price, who wantonly neglects his large family unless they are intent on joining the navy. And so it goes on.

Then there’s the guilt of those who underestimate or overlook our delicate heroine. Sir Thomas has her advancement at heart but is blind to where her true feelings lie, badgering her at one point till his better judgement takes over. Edmund Bertram is her true friend but is so obsessed with the faithless Mary that he cannot see Fanny’s worth as a loving partner.

Certainly misery there is in plenty, as critics of Mansfield Park complain, proclaiming that not only is Fanny a mousey, even prim and insipid, protagonist, but that her misery — long and drawn out as it is — makes for a pretty dismal tale. It is true that for our modern sensibilities there are few fireworks and that the pace is slow and stately, but for me this is a real strength: we get to know the virtues and foibles of all the principals (and not a few supporting characters too). This is a novel of manners, with social interactions at the forefront and most of the action, such as it is, largely offstage.

Indeed, at the heart of the novel are the rehearsals for the risqué play Lovers’ Vows, and in a way Mansfield Park too follows a sequence of set scenes, after the preliminary introductions are made: Fanny’s horse-riding lessons, a critical discussion of the clergy, the play rehearsals and their aftermath, cousin Maria’s precipitate marriage to James Rushworth of Sotherton Court, a meal at the Parsonage, the Christmas ball at the Park, a discussion on Shakespeare along with sermons, Fanny’s disastrous time with her birth family in Portsmouth and so on. Austen treats these all theatrically, with dialogue and reported speech aplenty. Not only do we have set scenes but Austen structures her story well. Just to give one example of this, the crucial ‘inciting incident’ or ‘plot point 1′ (to use screenwriting terms) occurs exactly halfway; late though this is in screenplay terms, it sets up the conflicts for the remainder of the novel. This is the point where the dastardly Henry Crawford tells his equally two-faced sister Mary that “my plan is to make Fanny Price [fall] in love with me”. From this point on all Fanny’s petty woes up to now will fade into the background as the ramifications of Henry’s callous decision cause her world to turn upside down.

The simultaneous arrival at Mansfield Park of Fanny’s beloved brother William (at this point a midshipman in the navy) will, while bringing her joy, strongly contrast with her reception when she goes to visit her birth family in Portsmouth. It will bring centre stage Fanny’s realisation that she is neither fish nor fowl — she cannot feel part of genteel society at Mansfield Park, nor can she accustom herself to the familial chaos of the Portsmouth household.

‘Tolerable comfort’ for the relatively innocent parties is what she promises — and delivers — in the last chapter. What began as a Pygmalion-type story (Sir Thomas tries to create a gentlewoman out of Fanny, discovering in time that she is more loyal and dependable than his true-born daughters), continues and ends within a Cinderella plotline (the virtue and beauty of the least regarded at last is recognised); and Austen rather speedily wraps things up with Fanny’s marriage to her prince. Misery for Fanny is dispersed, the guilty get punished after a fashion, and the minor gentry of Regency England are portrayed as little able to successfully raise a model family as the aspiring working class living from hand to mouth.

Mansfield Park was the first of Austen’s novels to be named after its setting (we can’t be sure what she intended the title of the posthumously published Northanger Abbey to be) and, maybe surprisingly, doesn’t follow the dichotomy-laden titles of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility which had proved successful, nor does it follow common practice by being named after its protagonist Fanny Price (as her earlier attempts such as Lady Susan and Catherine and, of course, Emma show). So, in a sense, the Park itself is a character in its own right, a contrast with the Prices’ Portsmouth home as much as prejudice and sensibility are foils of pride and sense.

But of course Fanny is the not always still heart of the novel; and, nineteen by the close, hers is the ideal marriageable age for an Austen heroine. (Completed in 1813 and published the year after, the novel’s chronology suggests that Fanny was born around 1793-4.) I very much enjoyed Mansfield Park, despite its unwonted reputation, which combines a fairytale ending with a surgical dissection of human frailties.

https://calmgrove.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/mansfield/ ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Jul 28, 2015 |
I love Jane Austen and this is one of my favorite works from her.
Fanny's love for Edmund grows with time and turns deeper. She suffers when he doesn't correspond to her is heartbreaker.
When Edmund finally realizes how much Fanny means to him, he turns to her and my heart melted into butter.
I wish Jane would still be alive so she could write more books like this one. ( )
  anaesteves | May 21, 2015 |
I love Jane Austen and this is one of my favorite works from her.
Fanny's love for Edmund grows with time and turns deeper. She suffers when he doesn't correspond to her is heartbreaker.
When Edmund finally realizes how much Fanny means to him, he turns to her and my heart melted into butter.
I wish Jane would still be alive so she could write more books like this one. ( )
  anaesteves | May 21, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Austenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drabble, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, MaggiePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mudrick, MarvinAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, JosephinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, CarolinePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, TonyIntroductionsecondary 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.
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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.)
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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