June 3rd, 2022
I’ve given this book a few reads now, and it’s still my least favourite Jane Austen and the only one that ever feels like a struggle to read.
| Published: 1814 |
| Genre: Classic |
| Themes: Romance, Class |
| Length: 488 Pages |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally.
During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation.
Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.
Mansfield Park is the third novel Austen published after Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and it just doesn’t have the same intrigue or excitement as it’s predecesor’s. The main flaw for me lies in it’s two main characters.
Mansfield Park becomes the home of Fanny Price after she is taken in by her Aunt and Uncle to relieve her mother of the burden of having too many children to care for. Fanny as a child feels out of place, careful not to make the wrong move for fear of annoying or disrupting her relatives. She doesn’t feel she quite belongs. Perhaps that’s why she’s such a meek, dull character.
Her cousin Edmund, who is just as unexciting, tries his best to help her settle which eventually leads to Fanny falling in love with him. Now, I know Austen knows how to write a romance. But this one was bland and icky and I was not rooting for them. Even after finishing it, I wasn’t convinced.
In terms of social themes, this is the most interesting of Austen’s books however. Fanny comes from a poor family with parents who have too many children they can care for. Fanny’s mother married ‘beneath her,’ and paid the price by being cast aside by her family and finding herself married to a drunk sailor. I think this book shows us what Austen’s view of the lower classes were and it isn’t favourable.
But it still some of her wit and humour comes through, and there were certainly some entertaining moments. I’ve seen some people have said Fanny’s character is actually a satire of the ‘perfect, angelistic romantic heroine’ and I do think it would be quite interesting to read the book in that light. I should have learnt by now never to take Austen seriously.