“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.”
The story-line of Mansfield Park revolves around Fanny Price, who, at a tender age, is taken away from her parents’ home to be brought up with her rich cousins, due to poverty. She grows up very aware of her lowly rank in the society. She only has her cousin Edmund as a friend. While Fanny’s uncle travels to Antigua, the neighborhood receives a visit from Mary Crawford and her brother, Henry, who bring along with them all the glamor and flirtation of London. As all her cousins, Henry included, fall for the charms of the Crawford’s, Fanny begins to doubt their influence, and this leaves her feeling lonelier and more isolated than ever.
“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.”
Life takes an interesting turn when Fanny is sent back to live with her family to teach her to appreciate the comfort of wealth. During this time, Fanny makes frequent trips to the seaside to contemplate what might have been and to moon over Edmund. She simply adores him and waits around for him to realize that he loves her too. The character of Edmund is impressively moral.
“If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.”
Despite Mansfield Park being one of Jane Austen’s least-liked and read books, it is also one of her most profound works. The reason behind this is that Fanny Price, the protagonist, is very different from Elizabeth or Emma (the protagonists form her works Pride and Prejudice and Emma, respectively) who are strong, independent women. However, with Fanny, Jane keeps the character very real and relatable.
“You have qualities which I had not before supposed to exist in such a degree in any human creature. You have some touches of the angel in you.”
The gentle character of Fanny is very endearing. In her, you relate to your fears, your hearts flutters and you feel the terror of forced socializing. There are several plot-twists engineered into this book. Humor, satire and tragedy are all interwoven into words. Affairs, proposals and illnesses, which are signature to Jane Austen, can all be found in plenty!
“But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman’s constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct. No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately.”
In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen points out that not all change is negative. Natural changes can be positive as well. Fanny’s philosophies are also an indication of her intellectual capability, which opens up once she moves to Mansfield Park. This also unfurls the discussion on how environment plays a part in shaping one’s character.
“Every moment had its pleasure and its hope.”
The conclusion presents the outcome in a battle of good and evil. Throughout the novel, the evil is masked in beauty, and the ending proves that good can indeed be masked by evil because of outside factors. It leaves you pondering over the question: what is the consequence when the masks of good and evil finally fall?
Ameya rating: 4/5. Mansfield Park is thrilling, romantic and hilarious. The best part about it is the innocence and purity of Fanny Price, her shy nature every introvert can relate to, and her friendship with Edmund Bertram.