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Mansfield Park 2017 Discussion > Vol 1, ch. 1-8, Mansfield

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

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
introduces Fanny Price at 10 years old and moves forward to her 18th year, living at Mansfield, which is the home of her aunt and uncle, cousins, and additional aunt nearby; most of the main characters are introduced in this section; it ends with the arranging of a visit to Mr. Rushworth's estate, Southerton, and the travelers getting underway


message 2: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 89 comments Somehow I never noticed that Mrs Norris does not have a Christian name. She is either referred to as Mrs N. or Miss Ward - no first name is ever hinted at. I guess it was intentional on Jane Austen's side. :)


message 3: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments it's possible that her first name is Elizabeth, because she is godmother to the youngest Price child - Betsey. Apparently it was common to name your child after their godparent.


message 4: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 121 comments Mrs. Norris is such a well-developed character. It's wild how she thinks she is so benevolent but all of her motivations are selfish. I'm also surprised at the assumptions they all (except Edmund...and possibly Tom) make that Fanny is stupid because she hasn't had the same level of education as her cousins. I would think the adults would realize the difference and point this out to her young girl cousins, but instead it falls to Mrs. Norris, who just tells the girls how smart they are and that Fanny could never compare.


message 5: by Lona (new)

Lona Manning | 74 comments There is a segment that describes how Sir Thomas assumes that Fanny will go and live with Mrs. Norris after Mrs. N is widowed. But of course Mrs. N. puts a stop to that notion. So there are several pages of discussion of something that doesn't happen. However in that section, and chiefly through dialogue, we get to know the personalities of Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris better, and there is a conversation between teenage Fanny and young Edmund, where we get to know him better (turns out he wears rose-colored glasses and thinks that it would be good for Fanny to live with Aunt Norris). Fanny thinks it will be awful but does not want to oppose his opinion. So in this section Austen sets up the future dynamic of the novel.


Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder  (CatsosPerson) | 145 comments I just finished this section.


MP is my favorite of JAs novels.

Chapters 1-4 are chock full of so many funny passages!


message 7: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 89 comments Every time I read Mansfield Park, it always strikes me how little love (if at all) seems to exist among the Bertram siblings and Edmund is no exception! They do not care about each other at all and are utterly blind when it comes to how the others are feeling. Even though Henry and Mary Crawford are set up as the "antagonists" in the novel, their sibling relationship is very good.


message 8: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 89 comments Jane Austen never shew us how Mrs Norris got on with her husband. Was she terrorising him or simply "managing" him, I wonder? :)

In some respects she reminds me of Mrs Proudie in the Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope, though Mrs P. has redeeming qualities, while Mrs Norris has none.


message 9: by Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder (last edited Jul 05, 2017 09:24AM) (new)

Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder  (CatsosPerson) | 145 comments Melindam wrote: "Every time I read Mansfield Park, it always strikes me how little love (if at all) seems to exist among the Bertram siblings and Edmund is no exception! They do not care about each other at all and..."

Wow! This has never occurred to me before!

I think Edmund cares more for Fanny, than his sisters, but I can't blame him here.

Maria doesn't much care for Julia either! She vies with Julia over HC when she herself is betrothed and is jealous of Julia in the attention/time spent with HC.

Maria is put out that Edmund and J have dinner and spend an evening with the Crawfords, while she, Maria is to wait for a visit from Rushworth.

Also, M is resentful of J when she sits on the box with HC during the borouche-ride to Sotherton. This is all very poor-spirited to resent attention being shown to J when SHE has already caught her fish! A very vain and selfish attitude!

Edmund and Thom don't seem to have much in common. Maybe they did when they were boys, but not now.


message 10: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments I agree with you, Melinda M (and Andrea), that the Bertrams are a very unloving family. I get the sense that Austen is trying to show us a family that has all the forms of harmony and success (beauty, wealth, education, etc.) but none of the substance (character, self-discipline, caring for others). It is all hollow behind their façades. At least Edmund is kind, which elevates him a bit above the others.


message 11: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments After re-reading Fanny's childhood at Mansfield I'm amazed that it concludes in ch.2 with saying that she 'grew up there not unhappily among her cousins' - it sounds like a dreadful childhood! But I suppose it was a great deal better than she would have had in Portsmouth. In fact, I wonder if her fragile health would have failed and killed her at a young age had she remained there.

It struck me again how Edmund is the only one to show her any real kindness, and with her sensitive nature, I can see how she fixated on him as her only friend to the point of adoring him for the rest of her life.


message 12: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 89 comments It is no wonder Fanny falls in love with Edmund as he is also "conveniently" in her comfort zone. I wonder if Fanny had married anyone at all if Edmund hadn't been around to be fallen in love so "comfortably".


message 13: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments Melindam wrote: "It is no wonder Fanny falls in love with Edmund as he is also "conveniently" in her comfort zone. I wonder if Fanny had married anyone at all if Edmund hadn't been around to be fallen in love so "c..."

Austen does teasingly suggest in the last chapter that Fanny would have eventually married Henry Crawford, had Edmund married Mary, but I think she would have continued to adore Edmund from afar.


message 14: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (JeanneWallaceGarrett) | 59 comments In the early chapters I fell in love with Edmund myself. He went out of his way to help his little cousin and provided a tenderness on a spiritual level, which was what she needed.

He was so like her brother in the beginning... I think she loved him first... as a brother, because that was all she knew. It provided that missing element in her life, the interaction she missed so much... the interaction with her elder brother. It was later that it evolved into a love of the heart.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments I am just starting this now, hope to catch up quickly.


message 16: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer | 94 comments Abigail wrote: "I agree with you, Melinda M (and Andrea), that the Bertrams are a very unloving family. I get the sense that Austen is trying to show us a family that has all the forms of harmony and success (beau..."

kind, but not very perceptive. Imagining that it would be good for Fanny to live with mrs Norris for instance,


message 17: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments So true that Edmund is not very perceptive! That seems to be a common trait among Austen heroes: the only exceptions being Henry Tilney and George Knightley (and even Knightley has his obtuse moments).


message 18: by Carol ꧁꧂ (new)

Carol  ꧁꧂  | 139 comments Joanna wrote: "I am just starting this now, hope to catch up quickly."

Same here! :)


message 19: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 121 comments I don't know if I'd agree that Austen's heroes aren't perceptive. Darcy, Wentworth, and Edward all have their limitations, but that just makes them more realistic. They are very perceptive in some ways, not so much in others. Edmund seems, to me at least, the least perceptive of them all. The problem mostly lies in the fact that he thinks he's perceptive, while he really only sees things as they relate to him and interprets them as he wants.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments I have now finished this section.

I love Austen and her writing. I am very happy to be reading one of her novels again, and especially with a group of fellow Austen lovers. That being said this has never been my favorite of hers, but I am enjoying it and perhaps this read will change my mind.

Mrs. Norris is a very interesting character. I like how she well she defends her interests, even though it paints her as a selfish character. I suppose she is in good company., with all the Bertram family members. This is a point that I always struggled with, as mentioned above, the uncaring nature of the Bertram's. It doesn't feel natural to me, but I suppose it is. It makes me kind of sad. I also don't find any of the characters very relatable as I do in others of her books. I thought it was funny on Mrs. Norris' argument that it was better for Edmund and Thomas to meet Fanny when she was 10 rather than 17, because then they would surely fall in love with her at 17. She knows just what to say to sway Lord Bertram.

Edmund is obviously the best of the Bertram's. I wonder what makes him better. How did he grow up in the same house as his siblings and learn to be solicitous to others? I also noticed that, while he is solicitous to Fanny, he doesn't seem to spare her much thought when he's not around her. I also thought it was interesting that Fanny had no experience on the type of correspondent Edmund would make. Has he never been away for any period of time, like for school?


message 21: by Melindam (last edited Jul 13, 2017 12:15AM) (new)

Melindam | 89 comments Even when Edmund does perceive things right, he still remains passive. e.g.: he knows Mr Rushworth is extremely stupid & he would never make Maria happy, but he doesn't do anything about it. Like he could have written to Sir Thomas raising this issue, because he knows his father trusts him and counts on him. Instead he just lets things take their course without lifting a finger (and the Crawfords were not yet around to blame it on their influence). Or when Fanny tries to warn him that something is going on bw Maria and Mr Crawford - here he displays the same blind complacency like when he explained to Fanny how good it would be for her to live with Mrs Norris. - Aaargh!! Sorry, but I cannot like him. At least Fanny has an excuse for being passive & silent. He has none.


message 22: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (JeanneWallaceGarrett) | 59 comments Edmund was the second son... the spare. He was in that odd position where his only worth was if something should happen to his elder brother. Tom had the final say in any matters dealing with the family. Edmund couldn't step out of his role or his brother would set him straight as to who was the heir and who was the spare. It was Tom's place to set Maria straight in the absence of their father.

Fanny moved from a home where she was useful to her mother. She and her elder brother helped with the smaller children so she had purpose. In moving to Mansfield, she was not esteemed and had no place in the hierarchy of the family. No wonder she was so lost. She was constantly wondering 'who am I' and 'where do I fit in?'

She was then constantly told or made to understand that she was less than her cousins and to not put herself forward. By Lady Bertram decision to give up the London house, her daughters were elevated to the highest position in their community. Perhaps if they had gone to town, they would have realized they were not the best, brightest or most beautiful of the ton.

As it was, their opinions of themselves, reinforced by Aunt Norris, were formed and their characters set. It was a disaster in the making.


message 23: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 121 comments As one of the more ignored children in my family, I can see how Edmund ended up the way he did. He doesn't have the extroverted, party nature of his brother, and since he's not the oldest, he doesn't have any sort of business affairs with his father. He also isn't taken care of and pampered like his sisters. He's had to take responsibility for himself and pick-up the pieces after his brother and sisters for most of his life. It makes sense that he would be more contemplative and responsible, no matter how misguided or oblivious he sometimes is.


message 24: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments Hannah wrote: "As one of the more ignored children in my family, I can see how Edmund ended up the way he did. He doesn't have the extroverted, party nature of his brother, and since he's not the oldest, he doesn..."

I agree. While his older brother is off gallivanting he is at home being the sensible, reliable son. I think it's testament to Edmund's good nature that he doesn't hold a grudge against his brother, who's gambled away part of Edmund's inheritance.
Edmund has his flaws, but I think they're offset by his youth (he's only 23 or 24) and his overall kindness.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments Melindam wrote: "Even when Edmund does perceive things right, he still remains passive. e.g.: he knows Mr Rushworth is extremely stupid & he would never make Maria happy, but he doesn't do anything about it. Like h..."

That's a good point. He is acting head of house at that point. I think I can forgive him the flaws, but it does put a new spin on it for me.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments Nina wrote: "Hannah wrote: "As one of the more ignored children in my family, I can see how Edmund ended up the way he did. He doesn't have the extroverted, party nature of his brother, and since he's not the o..."

I can see this as well, but I didn't pick up on the neglect. Was it referenced at all? I recall reading Lord Bertram's pride in the younger son, so I would suspect the opposite.

I do commend him for his lack of resentment.


message 27: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 121 comments I didn't mean neglected exactly (in my own life or in the Bertram family). What I meant was that when you have children causing trouble, such as Tom, or doing things specifically for attention, like Maria and Julia, they will automatically be given more attention. Edmund is appreciated by his father but probably left to amuse and handle things for himself the majority of the time.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments Hannah wrote: "I didn't mean neglected exactly (in my own life or in the Bertram family). What I meant was that when you have children causing trouble, such as Tom, or doing things specifically for attention, lik..."

Thanks for further explaining Hannah. I do think that is a plausible explanation for how Edmund is as he is. I buy it.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments I recently read Belinda who was an influence on Austen. There is a sub-plot involving one of the central characters who thinks the only way to find the perfect wife is to find a sheltered miss and train her. This brings to mind Fanny and Edmund's relationship to me to some extent. She is taught how to "think" in a sense by Edmund. I find that notion and their eventual pairing a bit disturbing.


message 30: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 89 comments Joanna wrote: "Melindam wrote: "Even when Edmund does perceive things right, he still remains passive. e.g.: he knows Mr Rushworth is extremely stupid & he would never make Maria happy, but he doesn't do anything..."

Precisely, Joanna. Tom is away at that time and we are told Edmund acts as "lord of the manor" so to speak, discussing things with the steward, etc. Also, I think he is the only one, Sir Thomas recognises for how and what he is. Later he tells Edmund how disappointed he is that E. was involved in the theatreticals - as he was the only one Sir Thomas expected to know better.


message 31: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments Joanna wrote: "I recently read Belinda who was an influence on Austen. There is a sub-plot involving one of the central characters who thinks the only way to find the perfect wife is to find a shelt..."

It is a bit disturbing to the 21st century mind; Emma and Mr Knightly have a similar teacher/pupil aspect to their relationship.

However Edmund does seek Fanny's opinion on things. He asks her what she thinks of Miss Crawford, and what she thinks of him taking part in the play (though he disregards her on both counts!) I think he values her independent judgment more by the end of the story.


message 32: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments Perhaps it required George Bernard Shaw and Pygmalion to make the teacher/pupil marriage seem problematic in literature. Though I would have gotten the point after Middlemarch!


message 33: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments Abigail wrote: "Perhaps it required George Bernard Shaw and Pygmalion to make the teacher/pupil marriage seem problematic in literature. Though I would have gotten the point after Middlemarch!"

Aww - poor Dorothea Brook - I love her as much as Fanny!


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments Nina wrote: "Joanna wrote: "I recently read Belinda who was an influence on Austen. There is a sub-plot involving one of the central characters who thinks the only way to find the perfect wife is ..."

Emma & Mr. Knightly do not bother me as much, though I was somewhat bothered when he mentions singling her out as a child. Emma clearly is her own person, who knows her own mind., in my opinion.

I have only read through Chapter 8 (this is a reread but it's been a long time for me) and do not know this book well enough to speak beyond plot on what happens next. At this point, though, I am not sure how much value Fanny's opinions can be to Edmund. Her's are basically a mirror image of his. I would rather see each of them with someone who challenges their thinking and exposes them to new ideas.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments Abigail wrote: "Perhaps it required George Bernard Shaw and Pygmalion to make the teacher/pupil marriage seem problematic in literature. Though I would have gotten the point after Middlemarch!"

LOL- good point.


message 36: by Carol ꧁꧂ (new)

Carol  ꧁꧂  | 139 comments I have just raced through this section. Mrs Norris is quite wonderful in her determination never to put herself out.

Tom could be an inspiration for all the selfish, gambling brothers in Georgette Heyer novels.


message 37: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum And her determination to be thought of as such a benefactoress, while doing nothing but making everyone around her exhausted- what talent!
I hadn't thought about Tom as a prototype, but he is!


message 38: by J. W. (last edited Jul 15, 2017 06:21AM) (new)

J. W. Garrett (JeanneWallaceGarrett) | 59 comments Joanna, I liked your comment...

'... I am not sure how much value Fanny's opinions can be to Edmund. Her's are basically a mirror image of his.'

That is very true, but at this point I think Edmund is feeling his resolve and foundation weakening. Under Tom's determination and Mary's temptation... his feelings are being bombarded on all sides. Fanny is that lighthouse in the storm or his compass that helps keep him on the right path. That is why he keeps coming back to her for validation.

However, even Fanny's solid foundation is not strong enough to overcome all the obstacles presented at this point. Only the arrival of Sir Thomas saved them from further ruin.


message 39: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen | 37 comments I think what struck me in this first section is that Edmund is acting more like the head of the household than his brother especially when his father goes away on business. And he cares about the family and what is happening with them and that includes Fanny.
Speaking of Fanny I have read Mansfield Park before and have held the annoyance that everyone else has felt about Fanny but this time I am thinking maybe we are all mistaken about Fanny . We could be looking at an introvert who is extremely shy and has not had a lot of training in social graces who likes people but also does not want to go against her values.


message 40: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 121 comments I don't think she's naturally shy, though. She doesn't avoid new acquaintances or conversation with those she doesn't fully trust (such as Miss Crawford). Fanny probably is an introvert; I would agree with that. And I do think that she keeps herself "in check," if you will, in the sense that she doesn't trust or state her opinions out loud most of the time. I think this is less a matter of preference than of practice, since Mrs. Norris has never given her much leeway to sound her own opinions or practices. I've always liked Fanny, honestly; I just can't relate to her as much as a few of the other Austen heroines. And I find the conclusion of Mansfield Park more unsettling than Austen's other novels. More...questionable, I guess. But that's another discussion for when we finish.


message 41: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments Gretchen wrote: "I think what struck me in this first section is that Edmund is acting more like the head of the household than his brother especially when his father goes away on business. And he cares about the f..."

I agree with you on both counts. And I think a large part of Fanny's shyness is because she has been kept 'in her place' all her childhood. Her opinions have not been valued or sought for.


message 42: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen | 37 comments Nina wrote: "Gretchen wrote: "I think what struck me in this first section is that Edmund is acting more like the head of the household than his brother especially when his father goes away on business. And he ..."
Exactly! That is what I am thinking


message 43: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen | 37 comments Hannah wrote: "I don't think she's naturally shy, though. She doesn't avoid new acquaintances or conversation with those she doesn't fully trust (such as Miss Crawford). Fanny probably is an introvert; I would ag..."
I agree Fanny is a little hard to relate to but that fits with someone who has always been told not to voice her opinions or when she has worked up the courage or is comfortable enough to say something has been told that her opinions are not valued


message 44: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (JeanneWallaceGarrett) | 59 comments It's like that children's game Whac-A-Mole... every time Fanny raised her head... Aunt Norris was there to whack her back into her place. I so resent Mrs. Norris.


message 45: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer | 94 comments Melindam wrote: "Joanna wrote: "Melindam wrote: "Even when Edmund does perceive things right, he still remains passive. e.g.: he knows Mr Rushworth is extremely stupid & he would never make Maria happy, but he does..."

the fuss over the theatricals has always puzzled me, the austens were very keen on amateur dramatics, so why they should have been so strongly disapproved of in this book is quite strange.


Joanna Loves Reading (JoannaLovesReading) | 35 comments J. W. wrote: "It's like that children's game Whac-A-Mole... every time Fanny raised her head... Aunt Norris was there to whack her back into her place. I so resent Mrs. Norris."

LOL! She is the worst. I find her an interesting character though!


message 47: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 121 comments Louise, I think a play with a better topic within a small family group wouldn't be frowned upon. But they choose a play with very loose moral characters and plan to act it with people (like Tom's friend) whom they barely know. Also, there is some mention of Maria's "delicate situation," where she might be acting a love scene or something like that with someone other than her betrothed, which would be considered highly inappropriate and is exactly what she ends up doing.


message 48: by Nina (new)

Nina Clare | 55 comments Hannah wrote: "Louise, I think a play with a better topic within a small family group wouldn't be frowned upon. But they choose a play with very loose moral characters and plan to act it with people (like Tom's f..."

Also, it was the fact that they knew Sir Thomas would not have allowed such goings on had he been home.
On three counts they were being very disrespectful to Sir T - doing something he disapproved of behind his back, having fun while he was on a dangerous journey, and interfering with his private space by turning his off-limits library into a stage.
Talk about while the cat's away!


message 49: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 89 comments Maria plays the part of a woman -Agatha -who was seduced and abandoned by a man and gave birth to an illegitimate child, which of course is a highly scandalous role for a gentlewoman to play. And if you think about her future fate - there is a strong foreboding. Comically, the role, Henry Crawford played - Frederick- is that of the illegitimate & abandoned son born to Agatha.


message 50: by J. W. (new)

J. W. Garrett (JeanneWallaceGarrett) | 59 comments And the fact that she put her hand on his heart and he put his hand on hers. In the movie they kissed... because a hand on his chest wouldn't mean anything to the modern viewer. Due to propriety and decorum... plus she wasn't wearing gloves [skin-to-skin contact], it was considered as seductive as if he had kissed her. All this was done in the presence of her family, her fiance, and Yates. Shameless huzzy.


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