Reading the Classics: Review of Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park"

When had I first read Mansfield Park a few years ago, I was unable to finish it. I felt it began well and had all the powers of intellectual stimulation that Jane's novels usually afford, but then the matter of the play always stifled my enjoyment. For those who have never read it, the characters contrive to put on a play called "Lovers' Vows", which is supposed to foreshadow all the romantic horror that happens in the third volume, and though the play has its purpose, I -for some unknown reason- disliked it so much that I either didn't finish the book, as happened the first time, or skipped over it entirely, as happened the second time. The third time I read the book, something in my little brain clicked and Mansfield Park became one of my favourite Jane Austen novels.

It tells the story of Fanny Price, a young woman who has the unfortunate business of being born in a large, poor, middle class family. She is adopted by the Bertrams, her family of cousins occupying the large and lush Mansfield Park. Fanny soon learns that this family has little interest in her as a person, excepting her cousin Edmund, who -I must admit- is an idiot, but a kind idiot. Fanny is kept a part from the chief of the family until two more families, the Grants and the Crawfords, enter the neighborhood, and bring her forward, and there the real mischief begins. Everyone falls in love with someone who does not or cannot love them, the worst of the worst overcomes the Bertram family, Fanny is soon rewarded for her patience, and all is set to rights in the end.

The real majesty in this book is the craftsmanship put into the writing. Before this book, Jane wrote in a more humorous and lively style, but Mansfield Park marks the beginning of the later and more thoughtful of Austen novels. The mindfulness with regard to detail, language, and sentiment is all superior than any other piece she had done hitherto and even since, as some might argue. It's not everyone's favourite; some do not agree with Fanny's religiosity and quietness, some don't believe that she should have married Edmund after how terribly he neglected her, but upon the whole, Mansfield Park shows Jane's prowess at its finest. I recommend it as one of my favourite books.


  1. So on the same page with you! This is my second favorite Jane Austen after 'Persuasion'. Edmund's blindness did make me want to thump him on several occasions, but I love Fanny's quiet strength and strong principles that allowed her to ride out the Bertram and Crawford storms to get what she wanted in the end.


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