Wednesday, 12 June 2013

''Mansfield Park''- Book review

Author: Jane Austen 
Published: 1814

Genres: Novel, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5


Previously this year, I read two Austen novels: Persuasion and Emma, and absolutely loved both of them. But I cannot say so in case of Mansfield Park. Though I appreciated the story and enjoyed it, Mansfield Park seemed a little lifeless to me. Every Austen novel has a life and energy in it. But sadly, I thought Mansfield Park lacked the energy, the flow. I liked this novel, but felt it was relatively dull.

Sir Thomas Bertram and Lady Bertram live in the spacious Mansfield Park with their four children, Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia. Lady Bertram's sister married Mr Price, a man with a low income, and is now burdened with several children and is suffering from financial difficulty. Lady Bertram's other sister, Mrs Norris, proposes that they should shelter one of Mrs Price's children, and thus, lighten at least some of Mrs Price's duty. Therefore, they plan to shelter the Prices's eldest daughter, Fanny. As said, the timid and shy 10-year-old Fanny arrives at Mansfield Park. At first she is very meek and afraid of everybody, but her cousin, Edmund shows kindness to her and they become very good friends.

Years pass, and when Fanny is eighteen years old, Sir Thomas goes to Antigua for business purposes. The house becomes rather light and carefree, because Sir Thomas had ruled the house very strictly. Two new characters join the story: Henry Crawford and Mary Crawford, siblings of the neighbor Mrs Grant. Fanny takes a distaste in both the brother and the sister, thinking that they are badly influenced by the city where they had grown up. However, the Betram siblings admire the Crawfords, and Henry Crawford flirts with both Maria and Julia, despite the fact that Maria is already engaged to Mr Rushworth. Edmund apparently falls in love with Mary, who is rather  ill mannered because of the influence of ill-mannered friends. Fanny dislikes the growing fondness between Edmund and Mary because of two reasons: firstly, because of Mary's manners. Secondly, Fanny herself has some feelings for Edmund. And then with a sudden surprise, Henry Crawford proposes to Fanny, expressing his deep love for her! But Fanny is strictly against this proposal. How can she accept such a man whom she saw flirting with both of her cousins at the same time, and whom she can never love, and who is very dissimilar to her tastes and ideas?

At the very beginning of the novel, I began to think it overly lifeless and even decided to abandon it, but soon it began to have a depth and flow that I began to like and enjoy this novel. But still, it was not enough. The novel lacked the humor, the life, the energy that is present in the other Austen novels I have read. The middle part is really good, with such depth, but the beginning and the ending seemed rather dull to me.

The characters were rather well developed. Fanny, Edmund, Miss Crawford and Mrs Norris had the most depths. Fanny's steady transformation from a timid and shy girl to a sensible and mature woman who knows herself- is pretty remarkable. Mrs Norris is the ''wicked lady''. At the very beginning of the novel, Mrs Norris offered to her sister and brother-in-law that she would be glad to take care of Fanny. But when Fanny was brought to Mansfield Park, where was all of Mrs Norris's ''kindness''? Mrs Norris repeatedly reminds Fanny that she is nothing but a sheltered girl from a poor family. One of the most shocking scenes was when, when the Betrams and the Crawfords are preparing to perform a play, and ask Fanny to play a role, and Fanny refuses, Mrs Norris says that Fanny has forgotten who she is, referring to her family status. It was one of the scenes where I hated Mrs Norris so very much.

The flow and depth in the middle part of the novel was rather remarkable, the depth of the characters and the situations was good, but overall, I cannot say that I loved Mansfield Park. I enjoyed reading it, but I thought it was rather dull and lifeless, if compared to the other Austen novels.

3 out of 5

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