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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 --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
Grade 9 Up-Jane Austen paints some witty and perceptive studies of character.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
YOUR SERVICE WAS PERFECT AS USUAL. I HAVE TO READ EVERY SENTENCE TWICE TO MAKE SENCE OF WHAT IS BEING SAID. THAT OLD WAY OF SAYING EVERYTHING. YOU KNOW. Read morePublished 13 months ago by MYRNA ROXBURGH
Anyone who enjoys Jane Austen books will love this novel. Unlike some of her other novels, the ending is not easy to predict. Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2013 by Penny B.
For Mansfield Park you will need a lot of patience to get through the book, as few parts are slow, but then the book picks up. Overall, this book is a good read.Published on July 15 2009 by nadnuk12
In this somewhat atypical Jane Austen novel, Austen abandons her precise characterization and carefully constructed plots, usually designed to illustrate specific ethical and... Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by Mary Whipple
I've read that Mansfield Park was Jane Austen's favorite of her marvelous works. The heroine, Fanny Price, is virtually flawless. Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by Amber-Rose Habig