for Mrs. Grant, having by this time run through the usual resources of ladies residing in the country without a family of children-having more than filled her favourite sitting-room with pretty furniture, and made a choice collection of plants and poultry-was very much in want of some variety at home. The arrival, therefore, of a sister (Mary Crawford) whom she had always loved, and now hoped to retain with her as long as she remained single, was highly agreeable; and her chief anxiety was lest Mansfield should not satisfy the habits of a young woman who had been mostly used to London. The Narrator on Mrs. Grant, Mansfield Park, Chapter 4
Mansfield Park is a big fat morality play, and Jane Austen the ever observant daughter of an Anglican minister knew well the temptations of mankind and the results of the choices facing them. In this passage, she openly describes the motivations of Mrs. Grant, who welcomes her younger half sister Mary Crawford into her home in the hope of her own selfish amusement.
Jane Austen has been crowned the queen of irony, but in this instance I sense a thick veil of sarcasm here in her sharp, biting character analysis of Mrs. Grant. We have just been introduced to the young, sophisticated and single Mary Crawford; newly arrived from London, that den of moral corruption! The combination of bored country matron and husband hunting schemer will certainly fuel the plot along.
At times while reading Mansfield Park, I feel a disturbing shiver of apprehension and fear. With all of the dark characters and deep interwoven plots, I am amused to think that with just a small tweak of morbid drama interjected, it could become a Gothic novel!
It can be a disturbing read, and I can only take it in short doses. Has anyone else experienced these same feeling? Please enjoy some other views of the novel through these links on the net-o-sphere.
Mansfield Park: Confusions of Guilt & Revolutions of the Mind
Mansfield Park: Eccletic Outpourings
Mansfield Park: A Review at Airas Thoughts
Mansfield Park: Review at Adventures in Reading
Mansfield Park: Opinions Collected by Jane Austen
*Painting of Queen Louise Augusta of Prussia, by Elizabeth-Louise Vigee le Brun (1802)