Review 1595: Mansfield Park

I was having difficulty reading another book, so I decided to take a break by rereading Mansfield Park, which is on my Classics Club list. In these days, Austen’s heroine, Fanny Price, is not admired, but she is a true and admirable product of her environment and circumstances.

At nine, Fanny is brought to live at Mansfield Park as an act of charity, for she is a poor relation. She is taught to be grateful for this charity and to have no expectations for herself. Sir Thomas Bertram is an upright, stern man whom she and her cousins fear. Lady Bertram is languid. Fanny’s Aunt Norris, who suggested they give her a home in the first place, actively dislikes her and favors her female cousins, particularly Maria.

Fanny is very shy and miserable at first, but the younger son of the house, Edmund, takes her under his wing, is her friend and educator.

As a young lady, Fanny is happy to be of service and not used to her needs or inclinations being attended to. Then two things happen at about the same time. Sir Thomas goes away on a lengthy business trip, and Mary and Henry Crawford arrive to stay with the Grants at the parsonage. Edmund, whom Fanny loves, is immediately attracted to Mary, but Fanny is dismayed by the sister and brother’s lack of principles. Maria Bertram is engaged by then to a rich but stupid young man, but Henry Crawford flirts with both Bertram sisters, playing one off the other. Mary’s behavior is more or less impeccable, but she expresses unprincipled ideas. Edmund seems blind to her faults.

Fanny is one of Austen’s more thoughtful heroines. Will she ever be appreciated for her qualities of affection, duty, and principle? Will Edmund marry Mary or recognize Fanny’s superior qualities? Well, we can all probably answer that, but the journey there is wonderful, as Austen’s novels tend to be.

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13 thoughts on “Review 1595: Mansfield Park

  1. Helen December 29, 2020 / 1:57 pm

    I never liked this book very much until I read it again a few years ago and loved it. It’s been a while since I reread any Jane Austen – maybe in 2021!

    • whatmeread December 29, 2020 / 2:05 pm

      Yeah, I think the people who don’t like Fanny are thinking about her in too modern of a way. I like it a lot! I used to reread all my Austen books once every year or so. It’s been a long time since I did that, but maybe I’ll try to reread a couple more in 2021. I love Sense and Sensibility, so I’d like to revisit that one.

  2. Liz Dexter December 30, 2020 / 1:29 pm

    I love Fanny, even in a modern context! This is such a good read – I re-read all of JA a few years back and need to do that again.

  3. FictionFan December 30, 2020 / 6:04 pm

    I love this one too and am always sorry that Fanny doesn’t get the same appreciation as Austen’s more lively heroines.

  4. Izabel Brekilien December 31, 2020 / 9:45 am

    I re-read again this year but still, I can’t really like Fanny. I love Ausen’s villains more, and I laughed when I read that Lady Bertram’s heart “almost fluttered” when her husband finally came home. A very good novel anyway.

  5. Jane January 1, 2021 / 8:51 am

    I haven’t read this one yet but I do like the sound of Fanny, I’m looking forward to it!

  6. Geoff W January 5, 2021 / 7:53 am

    Fanny Price is probably my favorite of all Austen’s heroines. There is so much to be aid about nature versus nurture in this novel and the scandal in this novel is so much more just and rewarding than in Pride and Prejudice.

    • Geoff W January 5, 2021 / 7:54 am

      Sorry if my comment posted twice, I got an error message the first time!

      • whatmeread January 5, 2021 / 10:37 am

        I only got it once. I wonder what the problem was.

      • Geoff W January 5, 2021 / 11:01 am

        It was probably on my end. I opened your post last night but didn’t comment until this morning.

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