Jane Austen discussion

47 views
Spring JA Group Film Festival > Mansfield Park 1999

Comments Showing 1-44 of 44 (44 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
I am very sorry about the delay. Very busy week here in our area with end of school semester, Spring arts performances, and more.

Written and Directed by Patricia Rozema

Cast includes Frances O'Connor, Johnny Lee Miller (a prolific Austen player; 1983 Mansfield Park and 2009 Mr. Knightly) Lindsay Duncan (dual role), James Purefoy, Hugh Bonneville, Justine Waddell, Victoria Hamilton (wow! 1995 P&P and Persuasion), Sophia Miles, Embeth Davidtz

This production certainly did not go without an enormously talented and charming cast. What a trivia game we could have just from the numerous period drama work these folks have created. I bet there would be lots of links and interconnections -- very Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the British version.


message 2: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments I watched this some time ago, and don't have access to it right now to watch it again.

I know that some people really like the more resolute, witty and lively version of Fanny in this adaptation, but to me she was a huge shock. I honestly found the BBC TV series of Mansfield Park much better, even though the actress there was such a grey mouse and very stiff and awkward. I just can't get my head around a lively Fanny Price. It defies the point of the original, IMO. This Fanny Price was basically Elizabeth Bennet. It felt like Rozema was saying: I don't like Fanny Price, I like Lizzy Bennet, so I'm filming Lizzy Bennet at Mansfield Park, deal with it.

However, unlike many other adaptations, it is clear, I think, that Rozema had thought and analysed the original novel for its themes and messages, and her work is an intelligent interpretation of those. In particular, the movie deals with slavery, which as we know is a theme in the book, though there it is handled much less directly. I liked that.

The acting, overall, was really good, although you need to be warned that unlike the other Austen adaptations, this one isn't all cosy stately homes and turns about the garden in bonnets. There are some really dark scenes, including rape, if I remember correctly.


message 3: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited May 23, 2017 01:29PM) (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ I watched the trailer on You Tube & thought this looked interesting. But it has been at least fifteen years since I read Mansfield Park (hoping to reread this year) so don't want to view any more till I have reread this book.


message 4: by Rachel, The Honorable Miss Moderator (last edited May 24, 2017 04:48PM) (new)

Rachel (randhrshipper1) | 673 comments Mod
Emilia wrote: "I watched this some time ago, and don't have access to it right now to watch it again.

I know that some people really like the more resolute, witty and lively version of Fanny in this adaptation,..."


Yes, Emilia, there is a hint that rape, or at least some sort of sexual predation, occurs at the Bertram plantation in the West Indies, connected to Tom Bertram if I remember correctly. Also, Fanny walks in on Henry Crawford in a much more compromising position with Mariah than anything Austen dramatized. It's been so long since I saw this version that I don't recall the presentation of Fanny but I love the character in the novel. I do remember that in spite of his character, Alessandro Nivola almost had me liking Henry Crawford...ALMOST.


message 5: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 579 comments I believe the DVD commentary says this Fanny is modeled after Jane Austen more than the "insipid" heroine. I liked how the movie was more explicit about the Bertrams ties to slavery.


message 6: by J. W. (last edited May 24, 2017 06:44AM) (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Hello everyone... I just dropped in to make a comment. I agree with the above comments and disagree a little too. But that is what a conversation is all about... each of us has an opinion and a perception of who and what MP is about.

Since I collect JA movies/adaptions, I was so looking forward to this one. However, when I saw it, I felt like I had been ambushed with scenes of graphic partial nudity and then, to add insult to injury, that crude art portfolio of Tom Bertram's just incensed me to no end.

I know many don't like the BBC version showing Fanny as a mousy figure. However, we have to realize, she was a mousy figure. In the 1999 version she was flirty and beautiful and that simply will not do. Mrs. Norris would never have allowed it.

Rachel @4 mentioned Fanny walking in on Crawford's sex scene. I found it odd that they chose MP for the seduction... yes, the seduction happened, but certainly not at MP. That was at Rushworth's house in town, and Fanny didn't walk in on them. I suppose they cut corners and had everything filmed at one location.

The graphic art in the portfolio [scenes from the West Indies] were crude and unnecessary. I was horrified by that scene. Why put that in an Austen movie? I get that the movie wanted to show the cruelty of slavery but this was not the way to show it. It changed the focal point of the story. And was that Sir Thomas in the picture? I refused to go back and look but that certainly changed my thoughts on him. It was one thing to have business there but to participate in the cruelty was unthinkable.

I threw the DVD away. I will not have it in my collection. It was not the portrayal of Austen that I want to own. Sorry, if I disagree but that is my honest opinion. I have all the others, but I resented like heck that I was ambushed.

I will never buy another Austen movie variation without looking more closely at the rating. I wish I had done that earlier. I have pictures in my head I can never erase. I resent that like heck. I still haven't forgiven the writers, producers and directors of this movie. Sorry if I offend.


message 7: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Emilia makes the point that this is a darker portrayal of Austen. I am glad you commented that. I am rewatching this film carefully in segments. I think that what this movie does is a more earthly portrayal and I think in ways films like these track Austen's intent. Mansfield creates a story of a family of complexity - and many families are complex, which Austen shows time and again in all of her novels. Some readers may have developed a mindset that Austen is about niceties, but I don't see that. The Bertram and extended families are greatly flawed.

I don't remember the novel details but Sir Thomas may be somewhat often absent, Lady Bertram has an addiction, the influence of Norris is toxic. Their children would likely struggle within this setting and we see some of that outcome. The stately home -- Mansfield Park-- is a clear facade for some ugliness within. Maria has chosen a career marriage, and in a quite cold way. Tom is an alcoholic. Edmund is searching for a clarity he hopes will be in the church.

I know and understand the criticism of Fanny, however, the child Fanny is dropped into this business. And Norris and Bertram see it as their act of nobility -- they certainly will not let her be thought of as an equal -- and regardless of the time period -- some families would have allowed her as equal. This is superiority, cruelty, and snobbery. This is why I examine Fanny much differently than other Austen characters in the other novels. Her circumstances are different. Mansfield is different.


message 8: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
J. W. wrote: "Hello everyone... I just dropped in to make a comment. I agree with the above comments and disagree a little too. But that is what a conversation is all about... each of us has an opinion and a per..."

I do not see anything offensive in you sharing your honest opinion and your expectations of this film. I do understand what you mean.


message 9: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
JW, I just looked at the ratings note. I think they did under sell the severity of the content on this one as a PG-13 for one thing. It is hard to be a discriminant film viewer.


message 10: by Megan, Moderator & Ardent Janeite (new)

Megan | 724 comments Mod
I have watched this one twice.(It is a fine addition to the British Actor Bingo game as there are many faces from other British films and TV shows). I don't like the Fanny portrayal and the constant looking at the camera drives me nuts. It has a harsh and dark feel to it and to me seems very disjointed. I really only watched it for Jonny Lee Miller.


message 11: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments And, SarahC... you have also made excellent points and I see the inner workings that you are explaining. I appreciate that and it helps us tear off that outer scab to what is really underneath... usually infection. Good points.

This is why I like to re-read books... the first time is usually a surface read. Each time I go back, I dig a little deeper into the psychology of the story. I read P&P yearly, so am more familiar with it. However, I am re-reading MP right now, in tandem with a recently launched JAFF, so I will look more closely at your points. Thanks for your comments.


message 12: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 58 comments I didn't like this version at all. When I watch an Austen retelling I want to see the stories that I love brought to life, and I want to be immersed into a world of gentility and manners for a while - so on that score I found this version to be very anti-Austen, it was too obsessed with everyone lusting after everyone else, and Sir Thomas as a rapist with predatory feelings towards Fanny was the worst example of this.
I did appreciate the slavery theme being drawn out, because it is spoken of in the novel, and I think the theory that Austen may have named her setting after Lord Mansfield, the anti-slavery campaigner is very possible (there was also a politician at that time called Norris who was pro-slavery). But I did not appreciate the graphic images of rape being shown in relation to this theme. They still haunt me years later.
On a lesser scale of offence - where was Tom's ebullience and jollity? Why was Henry Crawford fair-haired when he's supposed to be dark? Why were Maria and Julia dark when they're supposed to be fair? Why was Mansfield a big, rambling old building, when it was supposed to be a modern build? Why was Fanny tearing around shrieking when she's supposed to be quiet and physically frail? The whole thing failed on every count for me. I'm still waiting in hope for a good film version of MP...


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ J. W. wrote: "Hello everyone... I just dropped in to make a comment. I agree with the above comments and disagree a little too. But that is what a conversation is all about... each of us has an opinion and a per..."

I wouldn't worry about expressing an honest opinion you can back up JW.
If you want an honest opinion wait till you see mine about Austenland! :D


message 14: by Karen (new)

Karen Sofarin | 27 comments I agree this film is not at all an accurate portrayal of Austen's novel. However I have learned to enjoy this movie for other reasons. This is one of my husband's favorites and thus we have watched it, heard the soundtrack and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and actors a dozen times or more.

I learned to enjoy this movie more as I understood Jane Austen' s biography better. I particularly love her recitation of her History of England by a prejudiced historian. This is clever and such a slice of Jane that I laugh to myself and enjoy seeing this on screen. I do not believe this is Fanny Price, but rather a merging of Fanny with the original author whom I adore above most all people.

I did not understand the abolitionist references in the novel until educated others have pointed them out. But it certainly does add to the texture of this novel. The movie makes this connection very graphically and directly which was more obvious to me as a modern day American. In some ways even the overt anti slavery messages highlighting the injustices of what was happening is appropriate to what I now believe Austen's intent was originally.

As a movie, I really enjoy this and find it 2 hours of worthwhile entertainment. The novel takes longer than 2 hours to read, but is also a gem.


message 15: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕ wrote: "J. W. wrote: "Hello everyone... I just dropped in to make a comment. I agree with the above comments and disagree a little too. But that is what a conversation is all about... each of us has an opi..."

OMG! Carol... Austenland... don't get me started.


message 16: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 467 comments I agree with everything you say, Karen! It's not meant to be a filmic version of Mansfield Park, but is more of a conversation with Jane Austen and the readers ABOUT Mansfield Park. There are shocking bits in the movie--to those already mentioned I would add Mary Crawford undressing Fanny--but the shocking bits are all true to JA, she simply wasn't speaking them aloud. The bit about Sir Thomas slavering over Fanny in a creepy way actually is explicit in the novel, BTW. I feel that Rozema was showing respect for JA's subtexts by bringing them out into the open instead of pretending that MP is a simple love story for us to sentimentalize over.


message 17: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Wooh! Abigail, you made some very good points. I forgot all about that scene where Mary undressed Fanny. Yep, she did. Man, y'all dig deep. I am re-reading MP right now and will certainly look for these points y'all have made. Dang, I feel so naive.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 169 comments This discussion has convinced me to try to view MP. Perhaps I'll order the DVD from Amazon.

Previously, I had read on GR discussions that Fanny was unrecognizable in the film, so I had written it off as something I was not interested to see as MP is one of my favorites of JAs novels.

Also this discussion has convinced me that I need to read MP again to look at the theme of slavery.


message 19: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 467 comments This version is certainly better than that weird thing that came out in the 2000s, with the bumptious-milkmaid Fanny and the maypole dance out of left field. That one had me throwing things at the TV.


message 20: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (last edited May 26, 2017 10:38AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
I want to come back and make more comments, but reading these of the last couple of days, I am glad that the film, regardless of favorable or unfavorable opinions, is leading us to look into this story and into Jane's own story too.

Also, thinking about how we see the portrayal of Sir Thomas with wrongful intentions toward Fanny. That seems to represent his possession of her, whether it was meant to be a statement of the plight of women in general, or that of a woman who was the "ward" and without power in the family. I think soon following those moments is the scene where there is the ongoing voice-over style lecture of Sir Thomas when Fanny refuses Henry. Her presence as a person is removed entirely -- she is simply lectured to with no chance of having an equal say -- about her own life, her own future, her own body of course. I admire that piece of film work.


message 21: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Also, I will add the irony of a man who seems not equipped to handle his own life, lecturing Fanny so heavily about feelings, emotions, and more.

Also, I don't remember if this is from orginal text or an approximation, but I do love Fanny's answer to Sir Thomas about Henry: "his interest is in being loved, not in loving." A statement spoken truly and hard to argue. Of course that is before Sir Thomas' lecture to her!!

I also feel it that her observation encompasses Henry very well.


message 22: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "I agree with everything you say, Karen! It's not meant to be a filmic version of Mansfield Park, but is more of a conversation with Jane Austen and the readers ABOUT Mansfield Park. There are shock..."

Good points. Mary Crawford is a woman who takes many opportunities and those small scenes in the movie show us that visually. I feel that Austen identifies these people in society as we all do. She shows us their complexities and their goals to fit in where they will be allowed. The individual choice, ours and Fanny's is do we or can we accept the Mary Crawford person?

I am trying to think of other Austen characters who reveal their motives similar to Mary Crawford. Have you all been making any comparisons?


message 23: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Would Lucy Steele qualify? She was willing to participate in a secret engagement with Edward Ferrars for five years. That is, until his fortune was fixed on his younger brother Robert, who was full of his own vanity.

I know that Steele and Crawford are not cut from the same cloth as Crawford had her own fortune. However, the drive for an advantageous marriage... whether for fortune or status was strong in both women. And there was the dilemma over the first or second son.


message 24: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 467 comments Sarah, I'm loving your astute comments about how scenes in the movie are designed and shot! I am an innocent when it comes to filmmaking and never consciously pick up on those tactics (like erasing Fanny from that scene), is I really appreciate your highlighting the subtleties.


message 25: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
J. W. wrote: "Would Lucy Steele qualify? She was willing to participate in a secret engagement with Edward Ferrars for five years. That is, until his fortune was fixed on his younger brother Robert, who was full..."

Lucy Steele does come to mind. Lucy's very focused task of keeping Edward on the hook and then maneuvering her choice to her advantage in the final part of the novel. I always look at Lucy as a woman who really knew how to build her layers too. She manipulated Eleanor so harshly too, painting herself as the young girl just clinging to her hopes and her honest affection for E. She is one of Austen's well-crafted characters. The novel itself eplains Lucy better than the films also.


message 26: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "Sarah, I'm loving your astute comments about how scenes in the movie are designed and shot! I am an innocent when it comes to filmmaking and never consciously pick up on those tactics (like erasing..."

Thank you Abigail. I am untrained on film making completely, and I think scenes like that sometimes only make an impression on me when I re-watch them...and when I am figuring out where the director is going with the style of the film. I walk away with more questions than insights! Abigail, what is frustrating is that nowdays, we can see cut and deleted scenes on dvds and online and we realize what directors have to cut from the final movie. They cut so many things they were trying to convey originally and we are left wondering. I wish we could see the full films of some of these.


message 27: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments I have noticed that some DVD's come out as a director's cut after the film has been in the theaters. Then we get to see what his/her intent really was. Also, I always look at the deleted scenes after watching the film. I can usually agree that the scene would 1) have dragged, 2) wasn't necessary to what was happening, 3) should have been left in as it contained something important, 4) changed the tone of the scene from what the directer intended.... and other thoughts.

I saw a movie where the directer shot two endings and struggled over which one to use. He included the extra one in the special features part. After I saw it... I was so sorry he had not used it. The one he chose completely changed the focus of the movie. What a mistake.

I'm not sure I appreciate being manipulated by theater or when they change Austen's intend to some form of their interpretation. You get the bad with the ugly. Didn't mean to rant.


message 28: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments I've been too busy this week to join in, but I did get the movie so I will join in when I can.

From memory I hated the film for the reasons JW and others have mentioned, and I remember when we hired it originally the case said something about it being the version Jane Austen really wanted to write... which infuriated me.

I'm going to try to give it a fair second chance but I don't hold out much hope.


message 29: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes, and the business and the marketing of films will usually tell us something they want us to hear in selling the movie, like "the version Jane Austen really wanted to write." I think about all the people involved in the film -- all the artists, the technical people, the directors, the actors. I think of the work they put into it and, from what I read, very often the end result is not the story they wanted to tell. I see, from that, it is a tough industry. It seems like a complex business these days especially -- and the actors stake their reputations on these films and often are disappointed.


message 30: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
J. W. wrote: "I have noticed that some DVD's come out as a director's cut after the film has been in the theaters. Then we get to see what his/her intent really was. Also, I always look at the deleted scenes aft..."

I understand what you are saying about the two endings. I would imagine the director was very torn about that. I think, in the past 5 years or so, the cut scenes shown on dvds or online, fill in missing pieces for me. That may also mean the final was not edited well or not able to be edited to include plot exposition. Those deleted scenes often answer a question to me ...like why a certain character showed up or why certain emotions escalated so quickly. The earlier scene was cut out that would have explained it, but was thought to be too long or something. I think as a lover of novels, I like to see the details and don't mind the slower scenes. A lot of movie goers may want speedy happenings and don't want the slow parts.


message 31: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Ok, so I sat through it and these are my honest opinions.

I think I can say with a great deal more sincerity than Mr Crawford, I liked Julia best.

This wasn’t because the younger Miss Bertram stood out particularly but because she had so little screen time they couldn’t destroy her character so thoroughly as they have done for Fanny and Sir Thomas, and I liked Justine Waddell in Wives and Daughters. Actually the best things I can say about this adaptation came from liking the actors in other things, I know they can act and in fact the acting in this was very good, it’s just that they got the story completely wrong.

Jonny Lee Miller makes a likable, and believable Edmund and you can’t help liking Sophia Myles as Susan… in fact to be fair if this cast had actually made an adaptation of Mansfield Park, I think it might easily have been the best.

I am now done being positive, that was all I could manage in an hour and 47 minutes, whereas I have a very long list of all the things they got wrong, and beyond wrong, the truly worst of which have already been mentioned. Maybe I’ll list them if things get boring but I can’t help feeling whoever wrote this completely missed the essence of the characters, morality and, in all honesty, the point of the book.

I know some have said that it’s supposed to be more Jane Austen than Fanny Price… but then label it as a fanfiction crossover, because as it is, it doesn’t do justice to either and at least then we’d know to avoid it.

They have condensed many of the scenes by having the characters speaking openly in groups rather than private confidences… which would certainly open a few eyes earlier, but then if Mary Crawford didn’t expose herself (,no not the way Maria did,) to the whole family at the end she wouldn’t really be much worse than Fanny. I actually felt sorry for Henry Crawford at one point.

Some have also mentioned the allusions to slavery, well I listened to the audiobook (for speed) and searched the kindle version. This then is on what that is based:

Fanny to Edmund: "But I do talk to him more than I used. I am sure I do. Did not you hear me ask him about the slave-trade last night?"

That’s it. If anyone finds anything else, let me know.

There is so much in this version to disgust, not just the two most objectionable scenes but in particular, Mary Crawford as well as Sir Thomas come over as predatory and creepy… and no, in the book they do not.

Worst Line: Fanny to Crawford “Keep your wig on”… I’d give you context but would it make any difference?

On the whole I was sure I’d done a disfavour to this film in hindsight, but no, it really was more of a travesty than I remembered.


message 32: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 58 comments Louise Sparrow wrote: "Ok, so I sat through it and these are my honest opinions.

I heartily agree with you Louise! I too thought it was a travesty, despite the great cast.
That one allusion to slavery you quoted is the only one, unless the theory that the novel is named after Lord Mansfield is true - he was Lord Chief Justice who ruled against slavery in a landmark case in Austen's day. There was also a politician of the name of Norris who was pro-slavery - perhaps it's coincidence, but Austen was so precise in her writing, that I would be surprised if she was not making a pointed reference to the slave trade.



message 33: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Louise... you have said this so much better than I could. Excellent points. I felt betrayed when I saw this movie. As I watched in horror, I kept wondering... where was Austen's story? How could someone possibly get it so wrong?

You reminded us about everyone being such great actors... in other works. We can't fault them. They were only acting out the parts that were given to them. It's not their fault.

I was accustomed to BBC versions where they at least try to capture the story as Austen wrote it. To then be slapped in the face with this twisted variation was such a shock to my sensibilities. In my anger I actually destroyed the DVD and threw it in the trash. I refuse to have it in my collection. I may change my mind in the future... however, I doubt it. Even though I have to fight my OCD tendencies that requires I have a complete collection. Dang, I get angry every time I think about it. Sorry :-(


message 34: by Peekablue (new)

Peekablue | 9 comments As an adaptation, this movie fails horribly...especially in its portrayal of the characters. I will still watch it, occasionally, because when I consider it on its own, without comparing it to the book, it's not that bad of a film. Had I known nothing about the book, I'd probably really enjoy the movie.


message 35: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Good point Jamie. Imagine someone who has never read MP, seeing the movie, and then deciding to read the book. I think their response would be WTH... what the heck!!

I've done that BTW... saw a movie and read the book and it be something completely different. What a bummer.


message 36: by Anjali (new)

Anjali (anjals) | 5 comments Louise Sparrow wrote: "Ok, so I sat through it and these are my honest opinions.

I think I can say with a great deal more sincerity than Mr Crawford, I liked Julia best.

This wasn’t because the younger Miss Bertram sto..."


Louise, you are absolutely right. That is the only allusion to slavery in book.

Neither is there anything at all in the book that can be interpreted as predatory or even inappropriate behaviour towards Fanny on the part of Sir Thomas. I know because I was so horrified by the film's depiction of these two things that I scurried back to the book to do a minute reading, wondering how I could possibly have missed something like this.

If Jane Austen had wanted to write a book about slavery, she would have done so. But her subjects, in her own words, were 4 or 5 families in a country village. So to drag the theme of slavery into Mansfield Park and in such an overt and graphic manner is not a question of interpretation, it is a complete distortion.

Make a film about a feisty nineteenth century girl who writes and has a lecherous slave-owning uncle if you want to, but don't pretend it has anything to do with Austen!


message 37: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Nina wrote: "That one allusion to slavery you quoted is the only one, unless the theory that the novel is named after Lord Mansfield is true - he was Lord Chief Justice who ruled against slavery in a landmark case in Austen's day. There was also a politician of the name of Norris who was pro-slavery - perhaps it's coincidence, but Austen was so precise in her writing, that I would be surprised if she was not making a pointed reference to the slave trade. "

Good point Nina, and can I believe that it might have been in Jane Austen's head when she named the characters... Mrs Norris does seem to fit the pro-slavery mindset. But doesn't that make what they did to Sir Thomas in the film, as representing Mansfield, even worse?


message 38: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 58 comments Yes, Lousise - It certainly does make the portrayal of Sir Thomas even worse in the film version, which is one of the reasons I think the film failed to represent the spirit of MP.

That one reference in the novel where Fanny brings up the subject of the slave trade shows that Sir Thomas was interested in talking about it; this indicates to me that he was considering the subject in a thoughtful way, if he had been slapping Fanny down by saying -there's nothing wrong with slavery and this emancipation business is ludicrous - then Fanny would not have told Edmund that she wished she could talk more on the subject with Sir Thomas, if only she didn't feel she was putting herself forward by doing so.

I think Mansfield represents a period where old plantation wealth meets with new ideas of emancipation, and Sir Thomas's softened, repentant heart and his new father/daughter relationship with Fanny at the end of the novel - as well as the banishment of the oppressive Aunt Norris - speaks to me of a new future that included a movement towards freedom for slaves - and women - by gradual cultural shifts and a softening of patriarchal control. That would explain why Fanny considers Mansfield to be a haven, and her true home. It's the place where her human value is finally recognised and appreciated by the novel's end, not just by Edmund, but perhaps even more significantly by the patriarchal Sir Thomas.


message 39: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments That's inspired Nina, brilliantly put!


message 40: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 58 comments Louise Sparrow wrote: "That's inspired Nina, brilliantly put!"

Aww - thank you! That's the pleasure of this forum, it makes me think more deeply about the books, it's great to read what everyone else thinks and share ideas!


message 41: by J. W. (last edited Jun 05, 2017 05:46AM) (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Y'all are good. The names Mansfield and Norris, perhaps being chosen for their opposite positions on the abolition platform, made me wonder about Mrs. Norris. I feel that she, in a sense, enslaved Fanny.

Mrs. Norris scheduled her every move, denied her the necessities of a fire in her sitting room, consigned her to the little white room in the attic, manipulated her female cousins against her and taught them to think meanly of her, and denied her any pleasures or simple comforts. She controlled and abused her at every turn. She may not have abused her physically; however, psychological and mental abuse was worse for a tenderhearted person like Fanny.

You mentioned her true value... finally being recognized in the end... that was also with the falling from grace... of Maria as well as the influence of Mrs. Norris.


message 42: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 58 comments J. W. wrote: "Y'all are good. The names Mansfield and Norris, perhaps being chosen for their opposite positions on the abolition platform, made me wonder about Mrs. Norris. I feel that she, in a sense, enslaved ..."

I totally agree that Mrs Norris is the enslaving oppressor.
I do feel some sympathy for Maria at the end - to have her life blighted forever at so young an age while the equally guilty Henry can carry on as he pleases seems very unfair. But i have no twinges of sympathy for Mrs Norris in her banishment - dreadful woman!!


message 43: by Peekablue (new)

Peekablue | 9 comments It may not be fair but Maria knew what she was getting into and things could have gone much worse for her.


message 44: by J. W. (last edited Jun 06, 2017 08:16AM) (new)

J. W. Garrett (jeannewallacegarrett) | 59 comments Jamie, I agree completely... I am reading MP now and looked closely on the section when Sir Thomas returned home. In Chapter XX, Maria fully expected Crawford to declare himself.

We have no qualms as to her feelings. "Maria saw with delight and agitation the introduction of the man she loved to her father." Even though she was engaged to another. Yeah, she knew going in what she was about.

And then Crawford was gone. "...and so ended all the hopes his selfish vanity had raised in Maria and Julia Bertram."

However, now faced with the abandonment of Crawford... if she overturned her engagement, she would have nothing and would have to start all over again in seeking a new quest and the shame and reputation of having broken the one she had. No... it would not do... she was locked in whether she wanted it or not.

I imagine Maria realized the 'bird in the hand' saying. With Rushworth's name, fortune and the protection of being a married woman, she could enjoy all the independence it afforded her.

Yes, it could have gone much worse.


back to top