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Thread: The play in Mansfield Park

  1. #31
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Thus Lydia sins against family loyalty, love, and kindness (as well as violating the sexual taboos of the day). Nonetheless, although Mr. Bennet is glad that Wickham's regiment is stationed some distance away from Longbourn (am I remembering the name right?), he is nonetheless willing to invite his daughter back home, once she is married (and Lydia, we know,is not penitent).
    Lydia has become a “respectable” married woman. (There’s irony for you.) She is entertained in her parents’ home as a visitor. By contrast Maria is beyond the social pale and Mrs Norris expects her to live permanently at Mansfield. (Mr Bennet takes the line of least resistance with his wife. Sir Thomas stands up to Mrs Norris.) There’s a big difference.

    Like ecurb, I am uneasy at the approved attitudes in the book to both the play and the errant daughter. However Sir Thomas is the soul of charity compared to Mr Price’s reaction when he hears about it.

    “But by G—if she belonged to me, I’d give her the rope’s end as long as I could stand over her.” I can’t imagine either Sir Thomas saying his daughter “belonged” to him.
    Last edited by Jackson Richardson; 11-16-2018 at 04:16 PM.
    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. #32
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson Richardson View Post
    Like Ecurb, I am uneasy at the approved attitudes in the book to both the play and the errant daughter.
    I content myself that those attitudes are are consistent with the culture around Mansfield Park. Such attitudes may not be shared by much of Jane Austen's England or Jane herself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I think Fanny might be meant to be a sort of younger, more timid form of Anne Eliot. However, for me at least, she isn't nearly as attractive. I like active, eager, witty, and adventurous people -- Fanny is specifically set up to be timid and unadventurous.
    Yes, I too find Anne Eliot or George Eliot's Dorothea far more attractive than Fanny. The quality of a novel is unrelated to the character of it's heroine although, I must admit, the protagonist in Emma does not work for me.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  3. #33
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Jane Austen wrote of Emma, (quote from memory), "I am taking on a heroine whom nobody but myself will like." Austen was wrong (I like Emma), but many readers agree with you, Gladys. I like Emma because she is funny. Like other humorists, including Jane Austen, Emma's humor occasionally pushes the boundaries of good taste (as Knightly points out). That's an occupational hazard for those who try to be funny -- humor involves pushing those boundaries. Emma is Fanny's opposite: high-spirited, active, gregarious, self-confident, rich, and funny. Emma's high spirits lead her into errors, but perhaps Fanny's low spirits protect her from errors. Also, Emma is one of the best daughters in literature; Fanny is embarrassed by her own parents. Emma is smart (so is Fanny -- but I'm not sure she could whip out the solutions to riddles and charades as quickly as Emma can), but Emma's over-active imagination leads her intelligence astray.

    I am fond of Fanny because she is mistreated and lonely, and of Emma because she is so young, energetic, smart and delusional. But in real life, I would love hanging out with Emma -- she's more my type.

    I'm not a big Dorothea fan (like Fanny, she's a great character for a novel, but that doesn't necessarily mean I have to fall in love with her). Dorothea is a little too self-absorbed for my taste. I'm a monogamist at heart (at least within the confines of a given novel), and I'm in love with Mary Garth.

    I agree, Jackson, that once Lydia gets married she supposedly becomes "respectable", although her sister Elizabeth continues to make a snide comment or two. And I would object to Mr. Price's reaction to Maria's adultery (if he actually did it, instead of merely pontificating) far more strenuously than I do to Sir Thomas's (whatever the mores of the time or the novel).

  4. #34
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    It occurs to me that there is a strong but not immediately apparent connection between the hostility towards the play and the abolition of slavery. that is the evangelical movement as it effected the upper classes. The best-known campaigner against slavery, who pressed abolition through parliament, was William Wilberforce, (1759 – 1833), exactly contemporary with the novel.

    By evangelical I do not mean Trump supporting creationists such as we have now in the USA. Evangelicals were in the forefront of opposition to slavery in the UK as later in the USA. They were also a major influence in changing the accepted behaviour of the upper classes from Georgian to Victorian. Whoring, gambling and excessive drinking were no longer to be publicly admitted. The theatre would also not be acceptable.
    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

  5. #35
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson Richardson View Post
    It occurs to me that there is a strong but not immediately apparent connection between the hostility towards the play and the abolition of slavery. that is the evangelical movement as it effected the upper classes. The best-known campaigner against slavery, who pressed abolition through parliament, was William Wilberforce, (1759 – 1833), exactly contemporary with the novel.

    By evangelical I do not mean Trump supporting creationists such as we have now in the USA. Evangelicals were in the forefront of opposition to slavery in the UK as later in the USA. They were also a major influence in changing the accepted behaviour of the upper classes from Georgian to Victorian. Whoring, gambling and excessive drinking were no longer to be publicly admitted. The theatre would also not be acceptable.
    Good point. As I mentioned earlier, Sheia Kaye-Smith and GB Stern write about how revival might have influenced the novel, with its seemingly strict (for Austen) moral codes and theme of "ordination". They aren't academics, and their books are more gossipy appreciations than anything else, but they're very good,if you can find them.

    I still think (with no more evidence to my theory than Stern and Kaye-Smith) that Austen probably had "author" reasons for the different mood of Mansfield Park. Her heroine is shy, undervalued,and spends her time as an audience for a "play" (the real life play), rather than as an actor. The play itself mirrors the "real-life" (i.e. fictional real life) behavior of the characters, and encourages readers to look at the roles of observers and actors alike. Unadventurous Fanny (the plot is the precise opposite of an "adventure", as our heroine steadfastly refuses to go out into the world to seek her fortune) can hardly have adventurous, original, or unorthodox manners or morals. She is precisely the kind of person to whom the security of a strict, approved moral code would appeal. The nature of the heroine and of the plot almost REQUIRE a strict (almost puritanical) moral code.

    Of course evangelical revival in England probably influenced Austen, and the objections to the play were probably based on evangelical objections. What's harder to infer is whether any of this reflects the attitudes and beliefs of Austen herself. I'm not sure even the narrator always represents the "Austen" point of view (although in some cases, many of them hilarious, the narrator seems to).

  6. #36
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Jane Austen wrote of Emma, (quote from memory), "I am taking on a heroine whom nobody but myself will like." Austen was wrong (I like Emma), but many readers agree with you, Gladys. I like Emma because she is funny. Like other humorists, including Jane Austen, Emma's humor occasionally pushes the boundaries of good taste (as Knightly points out). That's an occupational hazard for those who try to be funny -- humor involves pushing those boundaries. Emma is Fanny's opposite: high-spirited, active, gregarious, self-confident, rich, and funny. Emma's high spirits lead her into errors, but perhaps Fanny's low spirits protect her from errors. Also, Emma is one of the best daughters in literature; Fanny is embarrassed by her own parents. Emma is smart (so is Fanny -- but I'm not sure she could whip out the solutions to riddles and charades as quickly as Emma can), but Emma's over-active imagination leads her intelligence astray.

    I am fond of Fanny because she is mistreated and lonely, and of Emma because she is so young, energetic, smart and delusional. But in real life, I would love hanging out with Emma -- she's more my type.
    I have not read Sense and Sensibility or Northanger Abbey, but from the other four novels I notice that Austen's heroines were all different to each other. Elizabeth Bennet is a perfect heroine. She's witty and very assertive. Emma is naive, high-spirited, but on the whole kind. Fanny Price is shy and rather pious. Anne Elliot is reserved, and a bit older, sadder and wiser. Given that tendency, I wondered whether Austen would have eventually written about a heroine like Maria Bertram. She's not that nice. She made some unwise decisions, but she was young. I was interested in what happened to her next. I was not too bothered about Lydia.
    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

  7. #37
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Your list of Austen heroines got me thinking about their names. Can "Fanny Price" hint at "piece of a** to be sold"? That would conform to the themes of slavery and Sir Thomas trying to support Henry Crawford's suit. Emma "Woodhouse" is housebound -- she can't even move out when she gets married. Catherine Moreland needs more landed property to be acceptable to General Tilney. Mrs. and Marianne Dashwood are a "dashing" and romantic pair.

    Some of the rivals have appropriate names. "Frank" Churchill is anything but frank. The steely Lucy Steele becomes (LucyFer)rars when she marries. Austen's love of word games (in "Emma") makes it unlikely this is mere coincidence.

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