Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen fits into the juvenile fiction genre and was published in 1814. It is recommended for readers ages 16 and up.

Mansfield Park was an interesting novel and not at all what I expected. It was Austen's third of six novels but the last one I happened upon. Thus with all my previous Austen experience I expected a nice love story with complicated twists and turns and while it did contain a love story it was also filled with heartache, confusion, and neglect. The story follows the life of Fanny Price who, at the age of nine, and at the suggestion of her Aunt Norris was taken in to live with her Uncle Bertram's family in an effort to relieve her mother of the expense and hardship of one of her many children. Her Uncle Bertram's family consists of himself, his wife and four children: two sons and two daughters. Her Aunt Norris also lives close by. While her Aunt and Uncle Bertram are not openly cruel or hurtful to Fanny they do not show her the love and care that a young girl needs and Fanny, as a result, feels alone and miserable in her new home. This lasts until the kindness of her cousin Edmund shows her that she has value to someone and Fanny sees her worth. However, her Aunt Norris (who is the sister of her mother and of her Aunt Bertram) takes it upon herself to continually remind Fanny of her place in life. Mrs. Norris constantly tells Fanny that she is beneath her cousins and that she should be grateful for their kindness. Mrs. Norris also ensures that Fanny is given the worst room in the house, not allowed a fire, and not invited to social events. All these are to serve as a constant reminder that she is not a daughter but a niece of her Uncle Bertram. It is through this ill treatment over a series of years that Fanny becomes a quiet and humble young woman who hides her wishes for herself and her opinion of others in an effort to appear grateful for what she has received. Later in the novel she is pursued by a handsome young man whom her Uncle wishes her to marry. However, through her quiet observance of this young man she is able to discern his true character long before anyone else has any suspicions of his coarse nature. Luckily she is able to avoid attachment with him in spite of constant pleas from him and her family members and she reserves her heart for her real love whom she is able to acquire in the end.

Other reviews available:

Persuasion by Jane Austen

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