Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mansfield Park

As my third time delving into the world of Jane Austen, I knew what to expect when I picked up Mansfield Park (479 pages) and started to roam the pages in search of enjoyment.

I can’t say it was as exciting as the last two Austen novels I read (Emma and Northanger Abbey) but it appeared to be A LOT more interesting while I was reading due to it following so close to putting down Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. After Richardson’s work it was like watching one of the Die Hard films after watching a documentary about the process of making paint (as you know I didn’t hate Pamela I just found it to be a real exercise in patience).

The reason I bring up Richardson’s epistolary novel is due to Fanny Price being a very similar character to Pamela Andrews (low status girl educated in a household of a much higher class; pursued by an unwanted, and then at least slightly admired, lover; and, a serious sense of duty and virtue). However, there is one HUGE difference, Fanny is a much more believable character (at least to this modern reader). Fanny does not deny any intrigue she has regarding things that lie on the line of her morals but still puts her duty to the Bertrams and virtue before her own desire (unlike Pamela who just denies that cravings of this sort exists at all).

Fanny isn’t the only loveable character in this novel filled with some rather scandalous characters (wink wink, nudge nudge- Henry Crawford with both the Bertram sisters). Fanny’s cousin and future husband (don’t worry it is okay back in the early 1800s), Edmund Bertram is a very positive individual and would have been a perfect role model for young male readers at the novel’s release. Although he can be rather naive at times, he is constantly the lighthouse of support for Fanny and always treats her as an equal. Equally as supportive to Fanny is her Uncle, Sir Thomas. Although it is indicated that Fanny did not always find love from him, he begins to see her worth as an individual after he returns from Antigua. Although her Aunt, Mrs. Norris, would love to see Fanny treated in the manner her lower station could provoke, Sir Thomas takes it onto himself to give Fanny the same opportunities he gives his own daughters, Maria and Julia.

In romantic nature, Fanny is rewarded for her patience and virtue in life and gets the man of her dreams- Edmund. Although Austen tackles a narrative based around the clash between morals and desires it never becomes ‘preachy’ and is constantly an enjoyable read that had me rooting for Fanny throughout.

The edition I read was ISBN: 0-14-062066-4.

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Toronto: Penguin, 1994. Print.


  1. I vaguely remember reading this and experiencing some of the sensations you've mentioned. I believe Mrs Norris made my blood boil!

    It's an enjoyable and surprisingly readable book. I did prefer Northanger Abbey but I wouldn't say no to reading this again either.

  2. Yes, Mrs. Norris really does test your patience! Hard to imagine how the 'poor relative' can treat Fanny so bad because she is poor!