Reading the Classics discussion

Past Group Reads > Mansfield Park chapters 1-10 (Vol. 1 ch. 1-10)

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message 1: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Post comments here for these chapters.

message 2: by Adriana (new)

Adriana Huh. Didn't know there were volumes. Will have to read tomorrow! Pretty excited. :D

message 3: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
I have the Penguin Classic Edition which is based on the first edition of the novel and originally all of Austen's novels appeared in volumes, so they have it set up both ways in my book.

message 4: by Adriana (last edited Mar 03, 2012 10:14AM) (new)

Adriana Ch.1

Wait. Wait. Wait. I'm getting confused with the names. Who is Mrs. Francis and Price?

Uh oh. I can already tell that this is going to be like an evil step sister thing. She's not going to be treated right.

message 5: by Lois (last edited Mar 03, 2012 04:43PM) (new)

Lois (loisbennett) | 22 comments Was it just me, or is there a section or two in Chapter V where it's really not too clear who is speaking, or to whom?

message 6: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Adriana, Mrs. Francis and Mrs. Price are the same person. Her name is Francis Price and she is sometimes called by her first name and sometimes by her last name. She is also called by the nickname of Fanny, but not to be confused with her daughter Fanny of whom the story is mostly about. If you need any more clarification, just ask.

message 7: by Dolores, co-moderator (last edited Mar 04, 2012 02:16PM) (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Lois, there are a lot of sections where it is really not too clear who is speaking. I have an edition with notes that helps to clarify this. In Chapter V, when Mr. Crawford says, " I like your Miss Bertrams exceedingly, sister," the sister he is talking to is Mrs. Grant. The conversation continues between them until Mrs. Grant involves Mary Crawford in it by asking her a question "Mary, how shall we manage him?" Then the conversation continues between the two women. Does this help?

message 8: by Adriana (new)

Adriana Dolores wrote: "Adriana, Mrs. Francis and Mrs. Price are the same person. Her name is Francis Price and she is sometimes called by her first name and sometimes by her last name. She is also called by the nickname ..."

Oh! That clears up everything! Thanks (:

message 9: by Lois (new)

Lois (loisbennett) | 22 comments Yes, thank you, Dolores - I had only ever seen the 1999 film version before reading it, and Dr. & Mrs. Grant aren't in it at all, so it took me a little while to get to grips with the idea of Henry and Mary having a sister!!

message 10: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
What does everyone think about the way that Fanny is treated differently than her cousins while living in the same home with them? How about Mrs. Norris' refusal to have Fanny come live with her after the death of her husband? Do you think her reasons are valid?

message 11: by Jenn, moderator (new)

Jenn | 303 comments Mod
While reading this section I couldn't help thinking about Jane Eyre and her childhood with her aunt and cousins, where she was treated very poorly. So if we compare Fanny to Jane, then Fanny is definitely treated very well. She is given her own room and is taught by the governess along with her female cousins. She is able to play and associate with her cousins, and not treated in any way like someone not at least family. Of course, Fanny's uncle encourages her cousins to treat Fanny as an equal while still maintaining that she is not quite equal to them. As everyone gets older, we notice this discrepancy becoming more manifest. Fanny is left behind to sit with her aunt while the rest of the young people go off in groups to do what young people of the time did. No one, including Fanny herself, seems to find anything wrong with this, with perhaps the exception of Edmund. We'll have to see if this changes any as the story progresses.

message 12: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments It's so strange how time, distance and culture can make an attitude seem so appalling to one group of people, but so completely acceptable to another. Of course, Austen presents this treatment of Fanny as deplorable, but the characters holding this attitude find it perfectly normal. Our culture finds it shameful, but if we lived then, would we feel the same?

message 13: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer  | 163 comments I think that in Jane Austen's time, people were more reconciled to their future, fate, and standing in society to be determined in large part by things beyond their control. In addition to Fanny being treated unequally, it was well accepted that the first born son would be the one to inherit the majority of his father's wealth. Edmund is the more responsible and deserving of the two brothers, but Tom has the advantage of being the first born.

message 14: by Sheryl (new)

Sheryl Tribble | 99 comments I thought Sir Thomas' "equal, but not quite" speech really brought home how sharply regimented society was at the time. Even within people technically of the same class -- gentlemen and women -- Fanny's lack of money and lack of a titled father means she is very unlikely to grow up to live in a house like the one she's been offered, and it would be an act of cruelty to raise her as if she were going to end up living like her cousins will.

Mrs. Norris really does look down on Fanny and see her as lesser, and Mrs. Bertram certainly sees Fanny as more servant than relative, but my impression is that Sir Thomas is trying to figure out what's best for Fanny as much as anything. He wants to help her, but he knows this isn't likely to result in her marrying someone who is his financial or social equal and he doesn't want to raise her expectations beyond anything he can do for her.

He's not a very warm guy, but he does try to put his heart into doing his duty and wants to treat his unknown (at that point) niece with respect and consideration. He lacks the skill and understanding to make Fanny comfortable and happy once she gets there, but not the inclination.

Mrs. Norris, in contrast, has not the least interest in considering Fanny's needs or person; hers is a heartless duty and therefore, even when she believes something should be done, she often finds ways not to have to do it herself.

Lady Bertram, who really doesn't care one way or the other, ends up making Fanny most comfortable, at least initially, because she has more social skills and can easily accomplish her duty to be welcoming. Any responsibility to find Fanny a husband once that becomes pertinent -- which would be something most hostesses of the time would consider -- is completely off her radar.

Just finished Sense and Sensibility, and it's interested to contrast Lady Bertram's treatment of her own niece to Mrs. Jennings' efforts to make sure two more distant relatives staying with her have every opportunity of meeting eligible men. Mrs. Jennings goes too far sometimes, but at least she recognizes the job society expects her to perform. Lady Bertram looks to be happy to keep Fanny as her unpaid servant until Lady Bertram dies, with no real thought to what would happen to Fanny after that.

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