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Thread: Mansfield Park - love it or loathe it?

  1. #16
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    For me a key text comes in Chapter 2, when Maria complains to Mrs Norris about Fanny's inferiority.
    "But I must tell you another thing of Fanny, so odd and so stupid. Do you know, she says she does not want to learn either music or drawing."

    "To be sure, my dear, that is very stupid indeed, and shows a great want of genius and emulation. But, all things considered, I do not know whether it is not as well that it should be so, for, though you know (owing to me) your papa and mama are so good as to bring her up with you, it is not at all necessary that she should be as accomplished as you are;—on the contrary, it is much more desirable that there should be a difference."

    Such were the counsels by which Mrs. Norris assisted to form her nieces' minds; and it is not very wonderful that, with all their promising talents and early information, they should be entirely deficient in the less common acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity and humility. In everything but disposition they were admirably taught. Sir Thomas did not know what was wanting, because, though a truly anxious father, he was not outwardly affectionate, and the reserve of his manner repressed all the flow of their spirits before him.
    There are the positive values which Fanny has and her cousins don't, There is Mrs Norris flattering Maria and putting down Fanny, in order to make herself less the poor relation and there is Sir Thomas, whose relationship with his daughters completely lacks the trust, respect and empathy of Lizzie and her father.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  2. #17
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    That's the relevant question, isn't it, Jonathon? Is Fanny humble, generous, and self-aware? As is often the case with
    Austen, she leads the reader to think that Fanny is an objective, self-aware observer, a generous sister and cousin, and a humble, self-effacing girl. However, Fanny is not generous to Mary Crawford, when she rats her out to her ex-lover Edmund by tut-tutting about the joke about "one less poor man" in Mary's letter to Fanny. She is not humble when she agrees with Edmund that Mary's joke about 'rears and vices" is untoward. I don't want to criticize Fanny TOO much. I just want to point out that Fanny, like the rest of us, sometimes lacks self-awareness, generosity of spirit, and true humility. Austen likes using her readers' lack of awareness, humility and generosity to lead them down paths that, while surrounded by bright-colored roses, hide some thorns.

    (Obviously, Fanny is humble, self-aware, and generous compared to Maria and Julia, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise.)

  3. #18
    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    I agree she is not really humble. In fact give her 10,000 a year, change her into a man and you have........Darcy!
    Last edited by prendrelemick; 10-28-2015 at 07:55 AM.
    ay up

  4. #19
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prendrelemick View Post
    I agree she is not really humble. In fact give her 10,000 a year, change her into a man and you have........Darcy!
    I hadn't looked at it like that, but it's definitely a great take on it.

    No, I think for all that Ecurb said, can anyone really claim that they are self-aware? I mean: only the household Fanny grows up in puts her at a disadvantage, because she will inevitably have acquired the superior tastes of a middle class woman. Which is quite evident when she goes back home...

    Also we should remember that before Darwin came on the scene in the middle of the 19th century, the world was made by God and the haves and have-nots were an inherent part of Creation, like good and evil almost. The money Darcy pays, then, to fix up Lydia so he can marry Lizzie can be seen by Mr Bennet as a great favour he can't really repay, but to be honest for Darcy it was probably a trifle, appropriately sized to the status of Whickham. Of course he won't say so 'out of humility' .
    Of course Maria should be no means act superior, but she is. SSSShhhhh only whisper it now.

    And Emma will 'help' Harriet Smith out of her hole.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

  5. #20
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Well somebody loves Mansfield Park.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/b...ne-Austen.html
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  6. #21
    Generally, I liked it, but your criticism rings true. Fanny is more comfortable living under her rich uncles authority. She is a house pet. Also, I go to thinking that maybe she was not that much different from Mrs. Norris. They both marry preachers and are quick to live with a position which is meant to justify the authority of wealth.

    The characters are kind of one-dimensional.

    I really think that Fanny is meant to be kind of a metaphor for the concept of "inferiority" to the ruling class. Or at least in their minds in the beginning. She is not a slave of course as she is able to elevate herself by marriage to her cousin (that is another issue I have).

    Did you ever think Fanny herself is a conniver? She pulls off a real coup, steps in her cousins place as the most favored, she is comfortably living high off of slave labor, and she commits incest! My wife says that marrying ones cousin back in those days was standard practice. Still, with all that Henry the VIII did to get out of his marriage to Catherine by literally interpreting Leviticus, something I believe most educate English know, Jane Austen had to be aware. I am not vilifying Fanny, just highlighting that she was wise to the ways of the Portsmouth streets.

  7. #22
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Henry married his deceased brother's wife, specifically prohibited in Leviticus. It says nothing about your mother's sister's son.

    Jane would have been familiar with the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which included a long table of relations you could not marry. Bored children, like my mother, used to spend time in the service checking it out. Jane as a parson's daughter would have been well familiar with it. Fanny and Edmund do not fall within the prohibited relations.

    So not incest.

    Fanny is the opposite of Mrs Norris. Both are poor relations dependent on the Bertrams. But Mrs Norris is constantly trying to exercise power and spitefully bullies Fanny to do so. Fanny bullies nobody.

    And I'm not sure about Fanny elevating herself.

    She is a naval officer's daughter. She marries a clergyman. Two of Jane's brothers were in the first category. Two of them and her father were in the second. In terms of class, it is not elevation.

    The Prices are poorer than the Bertrams, but it is made clear in the Portsmouth scenes that the awfulness of the household is in part due to the irresponsibility of both Mr and Mrs Price.

    And it is nice to hear from you, Andrew. I always enjoy a chat about Jane Austen.

    I hope you don't mind me not agreeing with you.

    I hope we will hear more from you here.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  8. #23
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Is Fanny humble, generous, and self-aware? As is often the case with Austen, she leads the reader to think that Fanny is an objective, self-aware observer, a generous sister and cousin, and a humble, self-effacing girl. However, Fanny is not generous to Mary Crawford, when she rats her out to her ex-lover Edmund by tut-tutting about the joke about "one less poor man" in Mary's letter to Fanny. She is not humble when she agrees with Edmund that Mary's joke about "rears and vices" is untoward. I don't want to criticize Fanny TOO much. I just want to point out that Fanny, like the rest of us, sometimes lacks self-awareness, generosity of spirit, and true humility. Austen likes using her readers' lack of awareness, humility and generosity to lead them down paths that, while surrounded by bright-colored roses, hide some thorns.
    I loved Mansfield Park, read recently, as much as Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. Fanny is sublime.

    Mary Crawfords's "two poor young men less in the world" may be a joke but, with Tom Bertram dying in Fanny's home, its timing is appalling and speaks for her character. I am unable to locate Fanny's reaction to Mary's "rears and vices" joke.

    "Among admirals, large enough; but," with an air of grandeur, "we know very little of the inferior ranks. Post-captains may be very good sort of men, but they do not belong to us. Of various admirals I could tell you a great deal: of them and their flags, and the gradation of their pay, and their bickerings and jealousies. But, in general, I can assure you that they are all passed over, and all very ill used. Certainly, my home at my uncle's brought me acquainted with a circle of admirals. Of Rears and Vices I saw enough. Now do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat."
    Last edited by Gladys; 10-30-2017 at 08:56 PM.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  9. #24
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I didn't think MP was as entertaining as P&P or as clever as Emma. I did think Fanny Price was a worthy heroine. She showed some backbone when she was put under pressure to accept Frank Crawford's marriage proposal. I doubt Frank is capable of staying faithful and Fanny would have been miserable, I think. I disliked Mrs Elton more than Mrs Norris.

    I wondered what would happen to Maria. She's divorced and disgraced, but she is still young and pretty. Her father no doubt gives her enough so that she does not have to work. She's not going to want to sit in her cottage with Mrs Norris all day.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  10. #25
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    In favor of MP over P & P:

    1) Wickham, Mr. Collins and Miss Bingley are lousy rivals. OK, Mr. Collins is very funny --but he's a creature of farce rather than of real life. I wouldn't want to part with him (or Lady Catherine), and P & P might be the funniest of all the novels -- but the Crawfords WEAR better. They're more interesting in the long run. Were any of the rivals in P & P actually rivals? They never had a prayer.

    2) The world loves Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and so do I. But they're a little too perfect, and the plot is too contrived. Lydia runs away with Georgiana's seducer? Come on, now. Elizabeth just happens to visit Pemberley with her aunt and uncle? Perhaps I shouldn't complain. Who really cares about plots. But the more mature novels are more REAL.

    3) P & P is a Cinderella story. Fine. So are a lot of great stories. So (in a different way) is MP. But the whole set up of MP -- turning, as it does, the standard plot in which the hero goes into the world to seek his (her) fortune on it head (Fanny wants only to stay at home) -- is more original and fun. Austen is stretching her awesome powers a bit more.

    I'll leave it at that, for now.

  11. #26
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Mansfield Park is the only Austen novel not to have an online-literature quiz.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  12. #27
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    My defense of MP is idiosyncratic. It's probably the least popular Austen novel. Nonetheless, I think many hardcore Austen fans agree with me that the 3 later novels are slightly better than the three earlier. Pride and Prejudice may be the most sparkling of the 6, and Sense and Sensibility might be the most moving (along with Persuasion). But the mature novels attempt more difficult authorial tasks and are formally superior (the 3 early ones are all flawed in slight but significant ways).

  13. #28
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    In favor of MP over P & P:

    1) Wickham, Mr. Collins and Miss Bingley are lousy rivals. OK, Mr. Collins is very funny --but he's a creature of farce rather than of real life. I wouldn't want to part with him (or Lady Catherine), and P & P might be the funniest of all the novels -- but the Crawfords WEAR better. They're more interesting in the long run. Were any of the rivals in P & P actually rivals? They never had a prayer.

    2) The world loves Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and so do I. But they're a little too perfect, and the plot is too contrived. Lydia runs away with Georgiana's seducer? Come on, now. Elizabeth just happens to visit Pemberley with her aunt and uncle? Perhaps I shouldn't complain. Who really cares about plots. But the more mature novels are more REAL.

    3) P & P is a Cinderella story. Fine. So are a lot of great stories. So (in a different way) is MP. But the whole set up of MP -- turning, as it does, the standard plot in which the hero goes into the world to seek his (her) fortune on it head (Fanny wants only to stay at home) -- is more original and fun. Austen is stretching her awesome powers a bit more.

    I'll leave it at that, for now.
    Thanks for that, ecurb
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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