Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mansfield Park

I just finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.

Every girl loves Jane Austen, and wants to be a character in one of her books, right?

I definitely do not want to be a character in this one. None of the female ones, at least.

In Mansfield Park, Austen gives us a cast loaded with females that I don't think even Austen intended for us to like very much. We have Fanny's mother, who gives her to her sister, as she has children to spare. Even when Fanny comes "home" to visit years later, there isn't much maternal love to be had.

We have Fanny's aunts. One of whom will not let Fanny forget her place (beneath them all), and another who either can't think for herself, or just won't. She asks her husbands to make all of her decisions, even asking which game she will enjoy playing after dinner. I wanted to reach into the book and smack her.

Fanny's cousins might be slightly better. One marries a man that she doesn't love, perhaps out of a sense of duty, then leaves him for a tryst with the womanizing man she favors (this does not end well). The other wisely elopes and removes herself from the story entirely.

We are left with Fanny, the "heroine" of the story. I think we are supposed to like her. She refuses to marry a man she does not love. She does everything she can to make her family's lives easier. She asks for nothing.

I don't like her.

Fanny does not seem to do anything in this story. She moves through her life, going where she is told, doing what she is asked. And nothing more. She sits back and waits to see what life will give her, rather than going out and getting what she wants. This is not my kind of woman.

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