Review: Mansfield Park

Posted 24 June, 2007 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

Mansfield Park
By: Jane Austen

At long last I have gotten around to the last of Jane Austen’s major novels. I was initially quite wary of reading it in part because of how many people said it was not as exciting as her other works and in part because it was just so hefty. But nonetheless I managed to read it…there is no doubt that this was Austen’s most society-conscious novel; from rank to upbringing to marriage relations all came down to society and your place in it. Central to this story is Fanny Price, the daughter of a drunken sailor and a woman who was demoted from her social standing. She is sent to live with her aunt and uncle, the Bertrams, in Mansfield Park, as a sort of investment and as a way to help Mrs. Bertram’s fallen sister. From there, as Fanny grows up, she is faced with all sorts of challenges that would test the character of both herself and her cousins. I know some have said that the character of Fanny is just too good for a human being, but she does perseveres from temptations and follies brought on by the lure of society and so forth. And you can’t help but feel for the character; she doesn’t talk as much as the other characters, particularly in the first half of the story, and you feel like reaching out and fighting back for her whenever someone like Mrs. Norris looks down at her and reminds her constantly of her place in society. She can be quite plain but it’s her humility and modesty that makes her rather quiet and often an observer to whatever’s going on around her. She has a quiet sort of strength, which, despite her constant despair/anxiety, was evident around the later chapters (chapter 30 and onward). I guess in some respects, I ended up relating to her in some ways because I also am quiet in that sense…the novel did end rather abruptly, Austen could have fleshed out the ending into two chapters instead of cramming it all into one. I do love how there were odd sentences here and there that came out as fairly amusing: like Mrs. Bertram telling Fanny she’s give her a puppy the next time Pug has a litter of them or what Mr. Bertram thought of Mrs. Norris at the end of the novel. All in all, it’s not my favourite Jane Austen novel of them all but it is quite interesting…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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