The Not-So Austen Bookclub discussion

Mansfield Park
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Group Book Of The Month > Mansfield Park - March BOTM Discussion

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message 1: by Booknut, Head Moderator (new) - added it

Booknut (booknut101) | 4592 comments Mod
Discuss the book here!

The question to think about is:

Which is more important - someone's innate qualities, or the way they were raised?

Feel free to extend the discussion beyond the questions and simply talk about the book as well :D

message 2: by L (new) - rated it 5 stars

L | 1252 comments Mansfield Park by Jane Austen is my favorite novel by this truly remarkable, great female writer of the 1800’s. I am so pleased to have an excuse to re-read it (together with watching the 2x film adaptations), as I connect to the heroine Fanny more than any other as she is a true kindred spirit!

Brief summary of plot –

Fanny Price is taken from her poor family home to live with her relatives and rich cousins at a grand estate called ‘Mansfield Park’. Despite Tom’s absence, Julia and Mariah’s snobbery and her aunt Norris’ demands Fanny grows into an accomplished young woman who loves to read and put pen to paper. Fanny’s cousin Edmund is her best friend and as she grows from a child into womanhood their friendship becomes deeper, as she comes to realize how much she does love him.

But, Fanny is always made to feel inferior to those superior beings that surround her, and it is made quite clear from day one that she will never be their equal. When the arrival of Mary and Henry Crawford from the vibrant city of London appear at Mansfield Park, this is the beginning of great change as nothing will ever be the same again.

From the rakish Henry to the pious Edmund, to sweet and gentle Fanny and the rather dim-witted Mr. Rushworth this is a story with such a colorful cast of captivating characters.

Q: Which is more important - someone's innate qualities, or the way they were raised?

Fanny Price is a perfect example of how regardless of whether you come from a poor upbringing and are not in company with society, you are no less of a person (both of physical features as noted by her Uncle) and of mind-set or intelligence. As stated by Edmund when complimenting Fanny in front of his father, he remarked that she had a vivacious mind as hungry as any mans. Also Fanny’s younger sister Susan remarked that ‘her tongue was as sharp as a guillotine’ (in which she replies that it is due to the effect of her education).

Fanny’s innate qualities are selflessness, compassion and sensitivity towards others; wherein even if she does not particularly like someone she is always kind and courteous. She is honest and most of all she knows morality and is never tempted to act against her better judgment or do something wrong – This in contrast to Mariah Bertrum who has an affair with Mr. Crawford whilst she is married, and giving into temptation she ends up loosing everything, as is her downfall (from polite society and outcast by her own family).

This is a subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, being a bold and profound work of literature. If one examines each character individually (the family members and those other outside characters that come into Mansfield’s domain), one can assess the good and bad in them all and how they acted on temptation or morally correct.

Fanny applies herself to learning and to making the most of the opportunities that living in such a fine estate can offer her. She perfects her mind by extensive reading, writing and studying as well as observing life from a spectator’s viewpoint rather than central in the family. This is an excellent grounding for her to become a lady of sound mind, rather than perhaps the accomplished lady who above her station is well-versed in other (trivial) pursuits such as dancing, singing and drawing + appearance.

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