Reading the Classics discussion

Past Group Reads > Mansfield Park chapters 41-48 (Vol. 3 ch. 10-17)

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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 Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I love how sweet and accepting Edmund is of Fanny's family. That shows true quality as a gentleman.

I thought the ending was rather fast; the, what, two sentences about how they realize they are in love and finally end up together? But I suppose the main point of the story is not about their actual unity (since we know from the beginning that this is where they are headed) but rather the difficult journey that brings them together, so they can appreciate each other in a way they might never have had all these problems not occurred. Not my favorite Austen, but probably the most intelligent and socially important.

message 3: by Jennifer (last edited Jun 26, 2013 10:33AM) (new)

Jennifer  | 163 comments Alana, I too found the ending somewhat rushed, but overall it was a really good book. I once read somewhere that Jane Austen was never far off her game and I believe it. I'm a huge fan. I have heard some criticism of Fanny as a choice for heroine, but I liked her qualities and characteristics. Her insecurity,her reserve, and her tendency to observe rather than participate permitted her to develop remarkable insight and understanding of human behaviour. Not really sure what the purpose of introducing Susan as a character at the end of the novel was. I guess it was her arrival at Mansfield that liberated Fanny and permitted her to pursue a marriage with Edmund.

message 4: by Sheryl (new)

Sheryl Tribble | 99 comments Jennifer said:
Her insecurity,her reserve, and her tendency to observe rather than participate permitted her to develop remarkable insight and understanding of human behaviour.

Well said. I was particularly aware of that aspect this read-through. The first couple of times I read Mansfield Park, I quite liked Fanny, partly because she was so different from the others (Anne Elliot is the closest, and Anne, for all her modesty, is much more self-confident). So I was surprised at how many other readers really hated her, which I guess had me paying much more attention to Fanny's make up this time through.

I think Susan was introduced to demonstrate Fanny's perception and to let her take the initiative. Plus, all through the book Mrs. Norris has tormented Fanny. Susan has many of the same characteristics as Mrs. Norris -- a driving, haranguing personality with a lot of energy who wants to take charge despite not being the authority -- and when Fanny was a child she was not fond of Susan.

Throughout the novel, Fanny's basically shown her strengths in more passive ways; by not revealing her own secret love for Edmund; by listening to and helping others in tiny ways; by resisting the pressure to marry Henry Crawford. Susan gives her the opportunity to act in a more assertive way.

Instead of dismissing Susan as abrasive, she steps back and examines this personality with so little surface appeal to her, in order to recognize Susan's strengths, and then she steps forward to skillfully help and to guide this much more assertive personality. She musters her forces and for the first time actively improves a situation, to the benefit of herself and others.

We've seen she'd be a good match to Edmund in their close friendship and in the fact that she'll stand up to him when she feels he's out of line. Susan allows Austen to also demonstrate that Fanny will be able to manage a home once she has the opportunity, which, with her extreme shyness, may have been in doubt otherwise.

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