Publication Date: May 15, 2008
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"She was not often invited to join in the conversation of the others, nor did she desire it. Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions; and, in observing the appearance of the country, the bearings of the roads, the difference of soil, the state of the harvest, the cottages, the cattle, the children, she found entertainment that could only have been heightened by having Edmund to speak to of what she felt."
In early 19th century England, Fanny Price, at ten years old, is sent from her impoverished family in Portsmouth to rural Mansfield Park, the home of her wealthy aunt and uncle-in-law, the formidable Sir Thomas Bertram. The arrangement is meant to raise her in society, but it comes after she is not needed at home— and will it seem thereafter that she is not missed, except by a particularly beloved brother. Traveling with the imposing hypocrite Mrs. Norris, another aunt and frequenter at the Park, Fanny is preemptively remonstrated and has instilled in her an overwhelming and lasting sense of her dependence and duty in all matters of gratitude. A timid and reticent girl, wishing to do good, it follows that she is distressed by the grandeur of Mansfield, and feels no sense of belonging there, but fears to cause upset. "Whatever she touched she expected to injure, and she crept about in constant terror of something or other; often retreating towards her own chamber to cry." To make things worse, not with comfort, but with ignorant neglect, she is received by her relations: an uncle whose company is stifling, an aunt who is languid and indifferent, and three cousins who are encouraged in their vanity. But, a fourth cousin, singularly good-natured Edmund, befriends her after learning of her distress... and this friendship carries on into adulthood, becoming romantic love for Fanny. But she keeps this secret as well as her pensive existence eludes the understanding and sympathy of others. And now that all the youth of Mansfield are of marrying age, and Sir Thomas must leave them for a few years to attend to business in Antigua— in their newfound liberation, the young Bertrams embark upon mistakes and misbehaviors foolish and severe, while Fanny is left to be a silent or unheard witness, and to depend, even against Edmund's mistaken persuasions, upon her own quiet fortitude and sensibility to resist being drawn into the trouble.
From an authoress who has been held in high esteem by many of the great writers and intellectuals of the past two centuries, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park is a profound novel interwoven with deeply Christian themes, and presenting such a heroine as is rarely found in good literature.
Mansfield Park is truly a profound work with deep Christian themes, and Fanny Price is very admirable as a heroine, although her hidden strength is often lost on readers.
I believe Jane Austen one of the greatest writers who ever lived. Everyone should read her— men, let not the film adaptations scare you away, her novels were written for your enjoyment as well as that of the other sex.