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Thread: An opinion on Mansfield Park

  1. #16
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egmond Codfried View Post

    Mansfield Park is evangelical in style but does not mention god.
    .
    That's because it's English! Going on about religion too much is bad form.

    Jane's favourite author, Samuel Johnson wrote Rasselas, a highly moral fable, with clear religious tendencies, but God is only referred to as "the Being whom I dare not name".
    Previously JonathanB

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  2. #17
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    That's possible, Danik, but unlikely. The evidence that Austen was aware of the slavery and was on the side of abolition includes:

    1) Slavery was a major political issue in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The slave trade was abolished in 1807 (although slavery itself was allowed in the colonies until 1833). Indeed it is possible that the "inadequate returns" from Sir Thomas' Antigua plantation were the result of a labor shortage. The slaves could no longer be replaced by new shipments. (Mansfield Park was published in 1814)

    2) Sugar plantations in the West Indies provided a large percentage of Britain's wealth in 1800 -- more than the rest of the overseas Empire put together.

    3) Jane Austen's first cousins (on her father's side) settled in the West Indies. Austen's younger brother Charles married the daughter of a former attorney general of Barbados. Austen's father, the Reverend George Austen, was a trustee of an Antigua plantation, owned by her brother's Godfather. One brother, Sir Francis Austen, once commanded a British naval vessel that intercepted a slave ship in the Caribbean, although, because it was Portuguese, he could not enforce the abolition on the slave trade. He wrote letters home expressing his disgust with the slave trade and with slavery. It is unlikely that given all of these family connections, Austen would have been ignorant about slavery.

    4) Cassandra Austen destroyed many of Jane's letters, but in one surviving letter she expresses regard for Thomas Clarkson, a famous abolitionist. William Cowper was one of Jane's (and her father's, and Marianne Dashwood's) favorite poets. He was also an abolitionist.

    5) Some scholars have suggested that the title "Mansfield Park" may be connected to the famous Somersett Case, in which Lord Mansfield was the judge, and which decided that a slave who escaped his master while in England could not be removed from England back to the plantations. Whether Austen meant the title of her novel to suggest that the bucolic "Park" was dependent on slave labor is unclear -- but it's the kind of hint she liked to play with.


    ON the other hand, the Bertrams prefer not to discuss slavery. Here's the passage from the book, fanny speaking to Edmund:



    Timid Fanny thinks she would have been putting herself forward by asking about the slave trade while Sir Thomas' own children showed no interest. Perhaps, though, the children were reticent because they preferred to remain in ignorance, or thought such discussion improper.
    Thanks for all this information, Ecurb. Sorry that your quotations did'n get quoted with the rest.I just had a look at internet and the question of slavery in Mansfield Park is in fact a largely discussed issue.
    https://consideringausten.wordpress....y-in-her-time/
    However it seems to me that the focus in the novel is not directly on slavery itself but on how the social classes in England relate to it and specially how they silence about it. It's rather a subliminar approach, but then so much in Jane Austen is subliminar.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 04-26-2016 at 10:26 PM.
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