Mansfield Park Hardcover – Apr 24 2012
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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.
From School Library Journal
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I liked Edmund a lot too, as he's a wonderful person, but he made me angry sometimes because of how unaware he is.
Hmmm one of Jane Austen's acquaintances also alluded to this, but Mansfield Park seems to be technically less sophisticated (in language) than for instance Pride and Prejudice; but emotionally, Mansfield Park grabbed me more. I loved Pride and Prejudice too, but I could personally relate more to the lonely, virtually friendless Fanny Price, than with the confident, witty Elizabeth Bennet.
Of all the 6 novels, this used to be the one I most dreaded for one simple reason: I use to hate Fanny Price. Why? Because she made me think of a certain heroine of the Bronte sisters I still struggle with, for I saw them as a lot alike in character and behavior. But I must admit that Mansfield Park was better the second time around. I actually enjoyed Fanny and her grounded and highly reflected behavior, especially when it comes to Henry Crawford. I also liked how the author developed the relationship of Edmund and Mary Crawford and all the struggles surrounding it on his side. So all in all, this novel grows on you as you reread it.
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As a young girl, Fanny Price was sent from her poor family to live with her wealth relatives, the Bertrams, and was raised along with her four cousins Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia.
Despite being regarded only little better than a servant (especially by the fawning, cheap Mrs. Norris), Fanny is pretty happy -- especially since Edmund is kind and supportive of her at all times. But then the charming, fashionable Crawford sibilings arrive in the neighborhood, sparking off some love triangles (particularly between Maria and Henry Crawford, even though she's already engaged.
And the whole thing becomes even more confused when Henry becomes intrigued by Fanny's refusal to be charmed by him as the others are. But when she rejects his proposal, she ends up banished from her beloved Mansfield Park... right before a devastating scandal and a perilous illness strikes the Bertram family. Does Fanny still have a chance at love and the family she's always been with?
The biggest problem with "Mansfield Park" is Fanny Price -- even Austen's own mother didn't like her. She's a very flat, virtuously dull heroine for this story; unlike Austen's other heroines she doesn't have much personality growth or a personal flaw to overcome.Read more ›
This book does not contain the sparkling wit seen in Austen's other novels; it is more serious, and less entertaining. It deals with deeper themes than her other novels. Also, I must admit that the central portion of the novel, when everyone's characters are being developed via the theatrical production at Mansfield, drags a bit. However, on the whole I did enjoy the story very much. I liked the tender-hearted Fanny, and I admired her character - despite her timid nature, Fanny has a very strong sense of right and wrong, and always holds to her convictions, regardless of the pressure to do otherwise. She reminds me of Jane Eyre in this respect, who is another fictional figure whose character and strength I admire.
It was very satisfying to come to the end of the story and find that after so many years of suffering and disappointment, in the end Fanny's wildest dreams do come true, and she is wonderfully happy. Also, the scoundrels of the book get just what they deserve - public disgrace and isolation. It is an ending very characteristic of Jane Austen, in that virtue wins the day, and the unprincipled lot suffer for their sins. Like a fairy tale where good triumphs over evil, this kind of story is deeply satisfying to me.
Most recent customer reviews
In reading this book, I couldn't help but feel that Fanny was an heroin like Charlotte Brontë's, and so I was very fond of her, though I would have wished her a little less... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Elune
The Oxford World Classic version is definitely the best--great intro and footnotes. One of Austen's most serious yet also very interesting and funny works. Read morePublished 7 months ago by C V
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 on July 15 2014 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.
Even the best authors in the world sometimes put out something that... well, isn't up to their usual standards. Read morePublished on May 16 2010 by EA Solinas