Short Book Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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For Austen, I fell hard, owing to her  Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. I believe I can read a copy repeatedly, throughout my lifetime without ever getting tired of it. The sparks between Elizabeth and Darcy is enough to keep me in harmony. One can't help but wish to be Miss Bennet! I have had several 'what-would-Miss-Bennet-say moments, ' because I've  known her  to come up––and quickly too––with smarter comebacks than I ever seem to manage.

But this is not a review of Pride and Prejudice, it is of Mansfield Park.  I recently finished a copy of Austen's 'infamous' romantic novel and henceforth, I don't think it at all possible to ever think the name Fanny without thinking of Miss Price, and her dull, painfully annoying, mechanically proper nature. The perfect dependent.

What's wrong with Mansfield Park is that it lacks a Lizzy. You don't get to love Miss Price, in fact, sooner or later, you loath her! However, she is the heroine and we are supposed to, at least, favor her. This, I have found very challenging. I only wished she would go ahead and fall off of her morally high horse, and be done with. Edward would become a priest and bore himself and his whole congregation to heaven.

You have suffered enough of my ramblings, here is a gist of the story: Fanny Price is poor. She's the philanthropy project of her aunt, Lady Betram, and her husband Sir Thomas. Though the original idea of taking in Fanny as charity was her other aunt, Mrs. Norris' idea. (As a Harry Potter fan I already dislike a Mrs. Norris and there was no reason to dislike this one.)  I find Mrs Norris the most satisfying character in the whole novel: to read her mind, to hear her talk, and read the narrator's views on her is quite humorous.

Fanny grows up in the Betram's mansion along with the original Betrams. Tom is the eldest son, and he isn't a favorite of Fanny's because he loves to party. Edward, the second son, has had the most influence on Fanny, and it makes sense that Fanny is in-knots for him. There are also Maria and Julia Betram, Fanny's cousins who get all the love, all the action, and all the disgrace. We meet Henry and Mary Crawford who threatens to bring some excitement into the book. But Austen doesn't want any recklessness for her pure darlings, and so removes the Crawfords by making them too morally corrupt for Fanny and Edward.

Fanny gets Edward in the end, of course, a relief. For it would be evil to wish those two on any others. Mansfield Park is unsatisfying in concern with its heroine. Fanny is in several cages, she has almost no will, and she only stands up to her uncle when he tries to marry her off to wild Henry––a bit far-fetched in accordance with her character! She said she could never be happy with such a man as him. We are made to believe that Fanny is pure, and I disagree with this image of her.  She  could have been a tad bit stained, and therefore more human. Fanny could have been ahead of her time, not a slave of her time and her circumstance. She could have been witty, and brave, and could have said intelligent things worth remembering, like that delightful young Lizzy.

-
Jane


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