Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

All right, I’ll admit it. Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s most difficult and least popular novel. But it is also her most complex and reflective work and as such is worth reading or rereading. In fact, many scholars believe this to be Austen’s best book.

The heroine is like no other Austen heroine. We first meet Fanny Price as a shy, ten-year-old child who is taken from her poor and overwhelmed family in Portsmouth and given to her rich aunt and uncle at Mansfield Park. She grows up there as a poor dependent, treated badly or ignored by just about everyone except her cousin Edmund, who shows her compassion and kindness. As an adult, Fanny is still being taken for granted by most family members and mistreated by a few. She is still quiet and shy, and accepts her lot in life. She is secretly in love with Edmund. Into her world come Henry and Mary Crawford, a brother and sister who have charisma and charm. Edmund falls in love with Mary, and Henry causes trouble by flirting with both of Fanny’s female cousins, Maria and Julia. Temptations arise. Fanny must resist and stay true to her values, even under very stressful circumstances.

If you want to start a debate among Janeites, just ask them how they feel about Fanny Price. Is she a strong and morally centered woman or a little Miss Priss? She’s no Elizabeth Bennet, that’s for sure. You can also start debates by asking about Henry Crawford’s suitability as a husband, whether Fanny’s Aunt Norris is cruel or pitiful, and whether Mary Crawford is a mercenary flirt or a lively young woman looking for true love.

Austen wrote Mansfield Park after the publication of Pride and Prejudice, and she seems to have been trying for something completely different. While this book lacks the crispness and the sparkle of Pride and Prejudice, it has more depth and complexity. It’s the kind of book that you enjoy more every time you read it.

Find and reserve this book in the catalog.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s