A Writer's Journey

June 9, 2014

Book Analysis: “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
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Time for another book analysis! Once again, this is an analysis not a review. Spoilers will abound. Even for a book that’s two centuries old this year! Congrats, Mansfield Park!

mansfield park

SPOILERS from here on down.

Ten-years-old Fanny Price is brought to live with her rich relatives, the Bertrams, in order to give the girl a chance at a better life. But for the most part, they ignore her or berate her (in the case of her other aunt, Mrs. Norris)—except for her cousin Edmund. He takes an interest in the girl and makes sure she is taken care of while staying at Mansfield Park. She grows up to be a quiet and introspective young woman. Her idyllic life at Mansfield Park is turned upside down by the arrival of siblings Henry and Mary Crawford. Her cousins Maria and Julia are led astray by their feelings for Henry while Fanny watches Edmund fall for Mary, pining for him from afar. When Henry turns his attentions to Fanny, will she fall for his charms or resist temptation?

The novel does take a while to get started, in my opinion. But I understand that Austen has to tell us about how Fanny came to Mansfield. These early days at Mansfield really shape her character. Fanny Price may seem just shy, but I think she suffers from social anxiety. After all, when she first arrived, no one really paid her any mind. They expected a girl who was going to be so grateful for their kindness instead of the scared girl they got. Only Edmund did anything to make her feel at home, so the two became close. The others either ignored her or berated her.

Especially Mrs. Norris. Oh, goodness, Mrs. Norris. I’m not entirely sure why she disliked Fanny so much. She never really sees Fanny as part of the family, more like a servant. Mrs. Norris never thinks that Fanny should do anything her nieces are invited to. After Fanny receives an invite to dine with the Grants and Crawfords, she tells Fanny to her face that Fanny was only invited as a courtesy to the Bertrams, not because anyone would want to spend time with Fanny. She expects Fanny to stay home and just be happy to be there.

But for the most part, Fanny is just happy to stay home. She’s a homebody. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of her social anxiety, I believe. She stays where she feels safe, though she starts to venture outside Mansfield. Fanny eventually gathers enough courage to go visit her family. It is nice character growth.

While she grows more courageous, she doesn’t compromise her principles or her feelings. Especially with Henry Crawford, when he turns his attentions on her. Austen lets us know what is going on in his head, so the readers can debate if Fanny is right in her conviction. He does start out wooing her just to break her heart because that’s what he does. But then she proves the one that’s hard to get. And he can’t resist her because of it. So I don’t think he’s really in love with her. He just thinks he is. I believe that had Fanny ever returned his feelings, his would’ve faded over time. But I could see why some would think Henry would’ve always loved Fanny. I’m just not one of them.

I would’ve liked to have seen more of the romance between Fanny and Edmund. It was just relegated to what amounted as an epilogue. And it was like “And then Edmund realized he loved Fanny.” (Paraphrased, of course). I wanted to see their courtship. Especially as I liked the pairing.

But it did provide an interesting romance perspective: a one-sided one. Especially as Edmund’s is summed up in one paragraph. We only see Fanny’s feelings grow and the pain she experiences from watching him fall in love with another woman. The readers watch her struggle to put her feelings aside, for Edmund’s sake as well as her own. I really felt for her.

There wasn’t much by ways of description. At least not by modern standards. But Austen has her ways of painting pictures of the places and characters. Like how Fanny has “light” eyes compared to Mary’s “dark” ones.

Classics still have so much to teach us. We just have to look.


1 Comment »

  1. Great blog! Just wanted to let you know that I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and have nominated you for a Liebster Award! On my page (www.beautyandthemessblog.wordpress.com), you’ll find that I’ve posted a link to your blog for others to discover. 🙂

    Comment by shannonicole89 — June 11, 2014 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

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