Mansfield Park: Fun with Fanny and Friends: Day 11 Give-away!

Here’s a little humor to brighten your Monday morning Janeites! 

Can you describe your life in six words or less? That was the question that Smith Magazine asked their online readers in 2006. What developed was an amazing array of comic, tragic and poignant mini life stories that are now available in the book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. 

Originally inspired by an incident in writer Ernest Hemmingway’s life, he was challenged to write a story in six words or less. He responsed 

‘For Sale: baby shoes, never worn,’ 

proving that the imagination can run with half dozen words creating a whole life story. This amazing collection of a “thousand glimpses of humanity-six words at a time.” is both contagious and addictive. Here are a few of my favorites 

Read romances. Met a man. Disappointed! 

Girlfriend is pregnant, my husband said. 

Most successful accomplishments based on spite. 

No wife. No kids. No problems. 

Aging late bloomer yearns for do-over. 

Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that. 

Still lost on road less traveled. 

The Mansfield Park Six Word Review Challenge 

This creative and clever concept can be applied to almost anything we have an opinion on. So, the challenge that I am putting forward today is for Janeites to write a six word review of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen’s oft maligned and misunderstood novel! 

You can write about anything in the plot or characters that inspires you; humorous, tragic or snarky. I have written a few of my own to start you off. The most striking, funny or poignant reviews will be selected and announced in the Mansfield Park Madness roundup and deconstruction on August 31. Good luck! 

Be kind, because Fanny did mind. 

Resistance is futile. Surrender Fanny! 

The grey pony died. Fanny survived. 

Fanny Price. What becomes insipid most. 

What happens in Mansfield Park? 

Edmund Bertram sermonized. Henry Crawford womanized! 

Fanny Bashers conference in East room. 

Fanny Price? Wasn’t she on Broadway? 

Pug. Fanny Price’s Fairy Dogmother. 

Did Jane Austen write Mansfield Park? 

Poor Fanny. Rich cousins. Integrity wins. 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 11 Give-away!

Leave a comment by August 30th to qualify for the drawing on August 31st for one

 

Jane Austen Address book, by Potter Style

Paperback, with alphabetical tabs. Image of Regency lady and Jane Austen portrait on the front. 120 pages, ISBN: 978-0307352385 

Upcoming posts
Day 12 – Aug 26          MP novel discussion chapters 33-40
Day 13 – Aug 27          MP 2007 movie discussion
Day 14 – Aug 28          MP novel discussion chapter 41-48
Day 15 – Aug 29          MP: Sequels, Spinoff’s and Retellings

Mansfield Park (1999) Movie — A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Take a controversial classic novel, mix in a liberal filmmaker’s re-interpretation, amplify the slavery subtext, add in lesbianism and incest, and presto! you have Mansfield Park (1999), writer-director Patricia Rozema’s provocative adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel. I am not exaggerating when I say that Jane Austen’s fans find this movie puzzling. So did critics. It has spawned a rash of conversation since it premiered. Just Continue reading “Mansfield Park (1999) Movie — A Review”

Mansfield Park Chapters 25-32: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 9 Give-away!

THE NOVEL

Fanny’s last feeling in the visit was disappointment: for the shawl which Edmund was quietly taking from the servant to bring and put round her shoulders was seized by Mr. Crawford’s quicker hand, and she was obliged to be indebted to his more prominent attention. The Narrator, Chapter 25 

Quick Synopsis 

Sir Thomas notices that Henry is paying particular attention to Fanny as they dine at the parsonage. Henry visits Thornton Lacey, Edmund’s pending parish, and would like to improve the parsonage and live there himself. This talk reminds Mary of Edmund’s looming ordination. Sir Thomas will host a ball in Fanny and William’s honor at Mansfield. Fanny receives two gifts of chains for her amber cross. Which one should she wear? Fanny realizes that Edmund is seriously in love with Mary. Mary tells Edmund that she does not dance with clergymen in a last attempt to dissuade him from his profession. Fanny thinks “in spite of everything, that a ball was indeed delightful.” William departs for London with Henry. Henry returns informing Fanny that William has been promoted to lieutenant by his hand through his uncle the Admiral. She is delighted, until he proposes marriage. She will not accept, even though Sir Thomas drills and badgers her for reasons, condemning her as “Self-willed, obstinate, selfish, and ungrateful”.  Fanny is wretched and miserable and made to speak to Henry one last time. 

Musings 

Everyone notices Fanny at last! She has matured into a beautiful young woman and is being invited to visit the parsonage and dine, much to the amazement of her aunt’s who can only wonder why anyone would want Fanny, and lecture her on her manners and deportment. On reflection, it is really Mrs. Norris’ repeated putdowns that established her lowly position in the Mansfield household. If Lady Bertram’s passive indifference had been only the reverse, Fanny’s life and outlook could have been so much different. By nature she was a shy child, but a positive environment could have drawn her out. Mary Crawford seems to be her complete opposite in temperament and attitudes. I was struck by this telling quote. 

“There, I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me. I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it.” Mary Crawford, Chapter 25 

And she is playing her game to win Edmund’s heart and persuade him to change his profession like a master. It seems in every one of their meeting, she is working away at his resolve in pursuit of her goal. He is charmed by her spell, blind to her faults, and ready to forgive her by rationalizing her indecorous behavior by blaming her upbringing. One wonders what kind of minister he will make if he does not read personalities or see human failings so easily? The one question that he deliberates over and over is, does she love him enough to give up her essentials to happiness, – money and freedom. He doubts it, but continues in his delusion all-the-same. I can not think of two people so far apart on principles and life goals than Mary and Edmund. Today, they would definitely fail one of those compatibility tests that young couples take before they marry! My heart went out to Fanny though when she truly understands how much in love with Mary he is. 

He was gone as he spoke; and Fanny remained to tranquillise herself as she could. She was one of his two dearest- that must support her. But the other: the first! She had never heard him speak so openly before, and though it told her no more than what she had long perceived, it was a stab, for it told of his own convictions and views. They were decided. He would marry Miss Crawford. The Narrator, Chapter 27 

My greatest surprise is in Henry Crawford! Has the callous cad found principles and virtues from his nearness to Fanny? If so, she may deserve sainthood! Ha! He has undergone such a material change from rogue to gallant savior with his attentions, manner and proclamations of his honorable intensions to Fanny, that I am all amazement. 

“I care neither what they say nor what they feel. They will now see what sort of woman it is that can attach me, that can attach a man of sense. I wish the discovery may do them any good. And they will now see their cousin treated as she ought to be, and I wish they may be heartily ashamed of their own abominable neglect and unkindness. They will be angry,” Henry Crawford, Chapter 30 

His timing with his offer of marriage to Fanny is off though, and blew my slight softening to him. Helping Fanny’s brother William to obtain a promotion was a sly manipulation to win her gratitude which she graciously bestowed. Never-the-less, how little he truly knows the woman that he wants to marry, judging her against other women of his acquaintance such as Julia and Maria who would have succumbed to his ploy and accepted him without hesitation. Our Fanny Price has principles and can not be bought or badgered by her uncle into submission. Bravo Fanny! 

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library
Cast of characters
Chapter 25-32 summary
Chapter 25-32 quotes and quips 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 9 Give-away 

Leave a comment to by August 30 qualify for the free drawing on August 31 for one copy of.

Mansfield Park: Barnes & Noble Classics

Barnes & Noble (2005). Revised edition. Novel text and introduction and notes by Amanda Claybaugh. Hardcover, 427 pages, ISBN 978-1593083564 

Upcoming posts
Day 10 – Aug 24          MP 1999 movie discussion
Day 11 – Aug 25          MP Oxford book review
Day 12 – Aug 26          MP novel discussion chapters 33-40
Day 13 – Aug 27          MP 2007 movie discussion

Mansfield Park Chapters 9-16: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 5 Give-away!

THE NOVEL

“You need not hurry when the object is only to prevent my saying a bon mot, for there is not the least wit in my nature. I am a very matter-of-fact, plain-spoken being, and may blunder on the borders of a repartee for half an hour together without striking it out.” Mary Crawford, Chapter 9 

Quick Synopsis

The party arrives at Mr. Rushworth’s estate of Sotherton Court to tour the grounds. Mary continues to deride Edmund on his choice of profession proclaiming that clergymen are nothing. Fanny is tired and deposited on a bench outside a locked garden gate where she observes the coming and going of different couples and individuals all in pursuit of one another. Back at Mansfield, Sir Thomas will return from Antigua in November which will set Maria’s wedding date. Mary continues to criticize the clergy not weakening Edmund’s infatuation of her. Tom returns from Antigua determined to stage a theatrical at Mansfield. Edmund is against it and will not act. Which play shall they do? It will be Lovers’ Vows. Bickering over the casting divides Julia and Maria. Fanny pressured and shamed into acting, strongly declines to participate in something that Sir Thomas would not approve. Edmund motivated by the possibility of someone outside of the family group being recruited to act opposite Mary caves, and will act after all. Fanny is surprised and shocked at his reversal. 

Musings 

Now that we have been introduced to the main cast of characters, the stage was been set to Jane Austen’s preference of “three or four families in a country village” with the Bertram clan, the Crawford siblings and the lone wolf Fanny Price holding the flag of decorum and virtue among so much vice, the real fun begins. The scenes at Sotherton Court offer an opportunity for Mary Crawford to express some very strong opinions against religion and the clergy. When she discovers that Edmund will take orders, she feigns contrition for speaking so strongly without knowledge, (for about a moment), and then picks up her protest again. 

“Do you think the church itself never chosen, then?” 

“Never is a black word. But yes, in the never of conversation, which means not very often, I do think it. For what is to be done in the church? Men love to distinguish themselves, and in either of the other lines distinction may be gained, but not in the church. A clergyman is nothing.” Edmund Bertram & Mary Crawford, Chapter 9 

Austen is really using Mary Crawford as a foil against social decorum and religious stricture. Her sideways, and sometimes direct attacks against the church and people who worship are strongly against tradition, even today, so they must have been quite provocative in 1814. So far, if you follow Fanny’s reactions to her, you can see the trail of clues that Austen is leaving. Edmund is becoming more ‘blinded by love’ as the story progresses. 

The locked gate scene at Sotherton parkland is one of my favorites of the first volume of the novel. After Fanny is deposited on a bench near a locked iron gate, she is witness to the coming and going of couples and individuals all seeking others, only to miss them and be disappointed. Austen is using all of her comedic genius to play off the flirtations and romances developing. Fanny is again shown as the solid point of reference as all the others interact foolishly. It will be interesting to look back on this scene at the conclusion of the novel and see if there is any foreshadowing afoot. 

When Tom Bertram returns from Antigua ahead of his father for the hunting season, I am immediately on alert. This is trouble. When he proposes that his siblings and the Crawford’s produce a theatrical for their personal amusement, the plot opens up to all sorts of possibilities of conflicts between decorum and egos. What transpires is almost a mini Shakespearean play within the novel, of characters acting in a play that mirrors their own behavior; – pitting siblings against each other, erupting an array of emotions resulting in jealousy, fear and anger. Their quarreling over selection of the play and the casting of the roles is tiresome, and seems to go on too long, but that is Austen’s point. She pushes her characters and the reader to the point of exhaustion.  

“Family squabbling is the greatest evil of all, and we had better do anything than be altogether by the ears.” Edmund Bertram, Chapter 13 

Setting up the characters in an adversarial position reveals much of their true nature. As in life, when characters are placed under pressure, we see what they are really made of. Edmund, in his father’s absence first opposes the play based on decorum. Should ladies act? What will people think? Tom, being the ungovernable son that he is, sees no harm. He is all about instant gratification. His two sisters are all for it because they can play out their competition for Henry Crawford’s affection. Mary Crawford is pulled into the scheme showing no personal concern as a lady. She always does what she chooses and is an advocate for letting others do the same. As Lady Bertram doses on the sofa ambivalent to her children’s antics, Aunt Norris who is usually the kill-joy of all pleasure and expense surprisingly does not oppose her nephew either. Fanny sits by, quietly watching in shock until pressed into service to act. She declines, standing with Edmund against the plan, even after a shameful railing by her Aunt Norris that sends her into anxiety and self doubt. 

“What a piece of work here is about nothing: I am quite ashamed of you, Fanny, to make such a difficulty of obliging your cousins in a trifle of this sort-so kind as they are to you! Take the part with a good grace, and let us hear no more of the matter, I entreat.” Mrs. Norris, Chapter 15 

The biggest shock for me (and also Fanny) was Edmund’s reversal for weak reasons. After vehemently opposing the play, he acquiesces based on his concern for Mary Crawford! Oh how gallantly he goes out on his unprincipled limb to save her the discomfort of acting with a stranger outside the family circle. (I smell a besotted sod here) He rationalizes all this to the only person who is on his side, Fanny, who is shocked and puzzled, and then begins to doubt her own decision since her mentor Edmund has changed his colors. After deep reflection, I think she has the better handle on all the nonsense. 

Things should take their course; she cared not how it ended. Her cousins might attack, but could hardly tease her. She was beyond their reach; and if at last obliged to yield-no matter-it was all misery now. The Narrator, Chapter 16 

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library
Cast of characters
Chapter 9-16 summary
Chapter 9-16 quotes and quips
 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 5 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. 

Jane Austen Journal

By Potter Style. Paperback lined journal with the image of Regency lady and quote “We have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be” from Mansfield Park. 160 pages, ISBN 978-0307352392 

Upcoming posts
Day 6 – Aug 20            Metropolitan movie discussion
Day 7 – Aug 21            MP novel discussion chapters 17-24
Day 8 – Aug 22            MP great quotes and quips
Day 9 – Aug 23            MP novel discussion chapters 25-32

Mansfield Park (1983) Movie: Musings & Discussion: Day 3 Give-away

Movies

This six part BBC mini-series was adapted from Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park by Ken Taylor and broadcast in 1983 in the UK winning a BAFTA for costume designs by Ian Adley. Sensitively directed by David Giles, this interpretation of Jane Austen’s most complex and challenging novel is by far the most accurate attempt to follow Austen’s plot and characterizations of the three film adaptations now available on DVD. Featuring a stellar cast of notable British actors, the two main leads where played by Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price and Nicholas Farrell as Edmund Bertram. Supporting roles went to Angela Pleasence and Bernard Hepton as Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, Robert Burbage and Jackie Smith-Wood as Henry and Mary Crawford, and most notably, Anna Massey as the most annoying Mrs. Norris that anyone could envision! 

At 312 minutes over six episodes, we are privy to almost all of the novels scenes and veteran readers of Mansfield Park will recognize much of Jane Austen’s choice and witty dialogue. Some viewers might be disappointed in the production quality, as this was originally filmed on video tape and the sound does not supply the quality that we have become accustomed to since it was produced twenty five years ago. Its strengths lie in the actors performances, costumes and visual beauty as many of the scenes were actually filmed on location, which considering its budget, was a bonus. 

Because of time restraints, I will not attempt to critique the entire movie but focus on one favourite scene which I will call the ‘Sentinel at the garden gate’ from episode 2. Fanny Price and her cousins Maria, Julia and Edmund Bertram travel with Mary and Henry Crawford to the grand Elizabethan era estate of Sotherton Court to visit Maria’s fiancé Mr. Rushworth. As the couples walk through the wilderness parkland adjacent to the estate, director David Giles reveals Austen’s comedic genius in a scene that could have inspired any vintage vaudeville burlesque or modern television sitcom. When Fanny becomes fatigued, she is deposited on a park bench in the shade adjacent to a locked iron gate that has bared progress through the park. As the different groups and individuals arrive in search of each other, Fanny acts as the ‘sentinel of the garden gate’, relaying messages and explaining to everyone who has come and gone, and why. Austen’s brilliant comedic timing is in full play, and the director David Giles knows how to emphasize the right moments to build tension to the point of hilarity.

You can view the scene online here. Enjoy these screencaps with descriptions.

 Fanny Price, Mary Crawford and Edmund Bertram arrive at the locked garden gate.

Fanny is fatigued, and left on a bench as Mary and Edmund walk on together.

Henry Crawford, Mr. Rushworth and Maria Bertram
 arrive to  find Fanny and the locked gate.

After Mr. Rushworth goes to the house for the key, Henry and Maria become
 impatient and squeeze through the bars to enter the park in pursuit
of a better vantage of the grounds, or is that really the motivation?

 Fanny is alarmed and advises them to wait, but to no avail.

 

Heyday! Julia Bertam arrives in pusuit of Henry and
Maria to find Fanny alone on the bench.

Julia will not wait for the key either, and squeezes through
 the bars seeking to find Henry and Maria.

Fanny is further alarmed and worries that Julia will
harm herself or her gown, but is unheeded.

Mr. Rushworth arrives with the key! Where is Maria?

Mr. Rushworth sits with Fanny despondent, deriding the shortness of Mr. Crawford.

Mr. Rushworth decides to unlock the gate and pursue Maria and Henry. Fanny is left
 alone to continue waiting for Mary and Edmund’s return, which was much,
much longer than a anyone anticipated!

Further reading 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 3 Give-away

 Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

Mansfield Park (1983) 

BBC 6 part mini-series, adapted by Ken Taylor and directed by David Giles. 312 minutes. Staring Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price, Nicholas Farrle as Edmund Bertram and Anna Massey as Aunt Norris. 

Upcoming posts
Day 4 – Aug 18            MP Naxos (Juliet Stevenson) audio
Day 5 – Aug 19            MP novel discussion chapters 9-16
Day 6 – Aug 20            Metropolitan movie discussion
Day 7 – Aug 21            MP novel discussion chapters 17-24

Mansfield Park Chapters 1-8: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 2 Give-away

Illustration by H.M. Brock, Mansfield Park Ch 2 (1898)

THE NOVEL

Do not let us be frightened from a good deed by a trifle. Give a girl an education, and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without farther expense to anybody.” Mrs. Norris, Chapter 1

Quick Synopsis

Ten year old poor relation Fanny Price arrives at Mansfield Park and meets her cousins the Bertrams. Spoiled sisters Maria and Julia think her ignorant and stupid. Sad and sacred, her only friend is cousin Edmund who helps her write a letter to brother William. Five years pass. Sir Thomas Bertram and eldest son Tom leave for Antigua. Maria and Julia husband hunt with Aunt Norris. Fanny left out. Maria engaged to Mr. Rushworth. Mary and Henry Crawford arrive and meet their neighbors. Maria and Julia keen on Henry. Mary keen on Tom. Fanny and Edmund think Mary indecorous. Mary’s harp arrives, bewitching Edmund who falls in love with Mary. All the young people travel to Mr. Rushworth’s estate of Sotherton.   

Musings 

Jane Austen sets the tone of the novel immediately with Mrs. Norris’ passive-aggressive surly voice. It is effectively comical and annoying at the same time. She seems to run the Bertram family while her sister lounges on the sofa with her dog pug. I loved this description of Lady Bertram. 

To the education of her daughters Lady Bertram paid not the smallest attention. She had not time for such cares. She was a woman who spent her days in sitting, nicely dressed, on a sofa, doing some long piece of needlework, of little use and no beauty, thinking more of her pug than her children, but very indulgent to the latter when it did not put herself to inconvenience, guided in everything important by Sir Thomas, and in smaller concerns by her sister. The Narrator, Chapter 4 

I think that Austen is introducing a theme here of negligent parenting with possibilities for great material. Lady Bertram’s two spoiled and snarky daughters Maria and Julia are certainly the evidence of it. Their brother Tom the eldest son seems to be also ungovernable by their father Sir Thomas, gambling and drinking with little regret. Only second son Edmund seems to have his head on straight, though I fear he has over compensated for his lax upbringing and taken the high road too firmly with his moralizing and starchy attitudes. With an outlook like this, one can only imagine his frustration in living in a household of such cretins and understand his desire to be a minister to save unruly souls. 

When we are introduced to newcomers to the neighborhood siblings Mary and Henry Crawford, I was amazed at how well their cutting remarks and superior attitude fit in with the Bertram clan. It is no wonder that the introductions go so well. I was amused that their sister Mrs. Grant immediately suggests possible mates for her single brother and sister. Shades of an Emma Woodhouse; – who may only be a gleam in Austen’s eye while writing this. Their discussion on marriage in chapters four and five is a great introduction to their personalities, and sets the stage for future romantic machinations. Here are two favorite quotes by Henry and Mary that really reveal what is coming. 

“I am of a cautious temper, and unwilling to risk my happiness in a hurry. Nobody can think more highly of the matrimonial state than myself I consider the blessing of a wife as most justly described in those discreet lines of the poet-‘Heaven’s last best gift.'” Henry Crawford, Chapter 4 

Of course, he is being totally sarcastic and poking fun at marriage and women after his sister Mary derides his past performance with ladies to their sister Mrs. Grant. 

“In marriage…there is not one in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.” Mary Crawford, Chapter 5 

Mary Crawford is much more frank about it. Like Elizabeth Bennet she decidedly expresses her opinions, but unlike Jane Austen’s other strong female character from Pride and Prejudice she does so without much censure and is often moralistically off center. I like that dangerous laissez-faire, wildly over confident quality about her. She definitely gets the sharp witty dialogue that Austen is so famous for. It is like watching a train wreck and makes for a great story. 

But what of our heroine Fanny Price? At this point she has had little to say or do. Cleverly, I think that is Austen’s point. Being the poor relation and a charity case in a resplendent household is a tenuous position. We see her pitiful situation, how terribly she is treated by her cousins, and feel her pain. It is uncomfortable and we are angered by it. The over-eager reader may miss the subtly of her character and not understand why she is in the background so much. It is a bit perplexing but I am confident that Austen has her reasons that will unfold as the plot develops. 

Questions 

  1. Why is Mrs. Norris not given a first name? Is this a telescopic insight by Jane Austen by way of a slight?
  2. Fanny Price does not act like Jane Austen’s other heroines. Nor does Mary Crawford. Is Austen being ambiguous?
  3. Why do you think that Austen has set up such a caustic cast of characters? What are the benefits and downfalls to this approach? 

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library
Cast of characters
Chapter 1-8 summary
Chapter 1-8 quotes and quips

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 2 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Volume III: Mansfield Park

Oxford University Press, USA (1988). Third edition. This hardcover volume has been the preferred edition by many since its publication in 1923. It includes an unabridged novel text and extensive supplemental material. Nice compact, but could use a make-over!

Upcoming posts
Day 3 – Aug 17            MP 1983 movie discussion
Day 4 – Aug 18            MP Naxos (Juliet Stevenson) audio
Day 5 – Aug 19            MP novel discussion chapters 9-16
Day 6 – Aug 20            Metropolitan movie discussion

Mansfield Park Madness @ Austenprose Preview

Mansfield Park Madness Banner

Mansfield Park Madness at Austenprose August 15-31 

Seventeen days of seventeen great give-aways

and Fanny too!

 

Welcome Janeites and classic literature fans. I am pleased to announce that Austenprose will be hosting a seventeen day event in celebration and re-discovery of Jane Austen’s most complex and often misunderstood novel Mansfield Park. Please join us on our daily journey of discovery as we investigate and discuss the text, movie adaptations and sequels. Here are a few highlights of what will be featured.  

Mansfield Park, Oxford Illustrated Edition (1988)

Mansfield Park Book Editions 

Current versions of the text in print published by Broadview Press (2001), Norton Critical Edition (1998), Oxford World’s Classics (2008) and Oxford Illustrated Editon (1988), Cambridge University Press (2005), Penguin Classics (2003) and Barnes & Noble Classics (2005) book editions, and the Naxos unabridged audio version (2007).  

Mansfield Park Movie (1999)

Mansfield Park Movie Adaptations 

1983: staring Sylvestra Le Trouzel and Nicholas Farrell
1999: staring Frances O’Conner and Johnny Lee Miller
2007: staring Billie Piper and Blake Ritson
Metropolitan 1990: written and directed by Whit Stillman, staring Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman 

Cover of Edmund Bertrams Diary (2008)

Mansfield Park Book Sequels 

Edmund Bertram’s Diary, by Amanda Grange
Mansfield Park Revisited, by Joan Aiken
The Matters at Mansfield: or The Crawford Affair, by Carrie Bebris  
Central Park, Debra W. Smith 

17 Great Give-aways

Don’t miss your chance to win a free copy of the 17 items that are featured over the 17 day event. Many of the novel editions, all of the movies, and all of the sequels discussed will be offered in drawings from comments left between August 15-30. Winners announced on August 31. 

Please join us –  because gentle Fanny has requested your attendance and does not want to be viewed as insipid any longer!

Cheers, Laurel Ann 

Upcoming posts
Day 1 – Aug 15            MP Madness introduction
Day 2 – Aug 16            MP novel discussion chapters 1-8
Day 3 – Aug 17            MP 1983 movie review and discussion
Day 4 – Aug 18            MP Naxos (Juliet Stevenson) audio review 

Beautiful Mansfield Park Madness banner by the handsome, clever and rich in heart Kali Pappas at Strangegirl Designs

Mansfield Park 1983: I Know a Black Cloud When I See It

Illustration by H.M. Brock, Mansfield Park, (1898)South or north, I know a black cloud when I see it; and you must not set forward while it is so threatening.” Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park, Chapter 22 

I am currently watching the 1983 BBC mini-series of Mansfield Park staring Sylvestra le Touzel as the famously insipid Fanny Price. Poor Fanny. Traditionally, she gets a bum rap all around from readers, and her family in the novel. Of all of Jane Austen’s heroines, I think that she is the most misunderstood and under-appreciated. With this in mind, I am looking at the story from her perspective, quite determined to be her friend; the dissenting voice against the tide of derision! All Fanny bashers can stop reading now and go back to your respective corners. I am waving a white flag and calling a temporary truce in the Fanny war. 

This is my first viewing of this film adaptation. I can’t say how it has passed me by for twenty-five years since this Anglophile rarely missed a Masterpiece Theatre presentation let alone a feature film with any remote British connection. I had to think long and hard about where I was in 1983. Wow, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were in power, The Return of the Jedi was the top grossing film, and a gallon of gasoline costs $1.25. Gulp! It’s amazing to think that a good portion of people reading this blog weren’t even born yet. 

Continue reading “Mansfield Park 1983: I Know a Black Cloud When I See It”

Mansfield Park (2007) Movie — A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Mansfield Park, Jane Austen’s third novel was published in 1814. It’s reception by critics and readers has been mixed—not as light, bright, and sparkling as Pride and Prejudice nor as poignant and romantic as Persuasion. It is a complex story about identity, self-worth, and moral fortitude. It’s heroine Fanny Price has been criticized as being weak and timid, its hero Edmund Bertram as too biddable, and the secondary characters as corrupt and morally bankrupt. Ouch. That is quiet an introduction for a first-time reader to Continue reading “Mansfield Park (2007) Movie — A Review”

Mansfield Park: The Enigma that is Fanny Price

Image of a steel engraving by Nathaniel Whittock of Newby Hall Yorkshire, circa 1831 

GENTLENESS 

The gentleness and gratitude of her disposition would secure her all your own immediately. From my soul I do not think she would marry you without love; that is, if there is a girl in the world capable of being uninfluenced by ambition, I can suppose it her;

 Mary Crawford on Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, Chapter 30  

If Pride and Prejudice is the darling of Jane Austen’s oeuvre, then Mansfield Park is the red headed step child. Even opinions of it were divided among Jane Austen’s friends and family prior and after publication, which she collected into an undated manuscript circa 1814 and 1815.

“We certainly do not think it as a whole, equal to P. & P. — but it has many & great beauties. Fanny is a delightful Character! and Aunt Norris is a great favourite of mine. The Characters are natural & well supported, & many of the Dialogues excellent. — You need not fear the publication being considered as discreditable to the talents of it’s Author.” F. W. A. (Francis William Austen)

“liked it better than P. & P. — but not so well as S. & S. — could not bear Fanny. — Delighted with Mrs. Norris, the scene at Portsmouth, & all the humourous parts.” Anna Lefroy

“owned that she thought S. & S. — and P. & P. downright nonsense, but expected to like M. P. better, & having finished the 1st vol. — flattered herself she had got through the worst.” Mrs. Augusta Bramstone

“All who think deeply & feel much will give the Preference to Mansfield Park.” Mrs. Carrick

“did not much like it — not to be compared to P. & P. — nothing interesting in the characters — Language poor. — Characters natural & well supported — Improved as it went on.” Fanny Cage

Such enlightening comments! In fact, a quick analysis of all of the collected remarks by family and friends reveals that readers today feel much the same; Mansfield Park is not equal to Pride & Prejudice and Fanny Price is annoying and insipid. What is it about this novel that is so unsatisfying in comparison to Pride & Prejudice? Why do readers dislike Fanny?

To answer completely would require more time and space then I can impart at this moment, but I can give you a quick response. The themes and characters in Mansfield Park make us uneasy. They introduce the reader to some of the dark aspects of human nature, and more disturbingly, how we treat each other. That is unsettling. Fanny Price as a heroine is picked upon, belittled and degraded. She has been so un-empowered by her circumstances that she chooses not to oppose them. This angers and frustrates us. We want her to speak up for herself like Lizzy Bennet or tell others what to do like Emma Woodhouse, but that does not happen. Instead, Fanny is silent, patient and dutiful. Why?

The answers are eventually revealed by Jane Austen. The ending does reach a satisfying conclusion, rewarding the patient and dutiful reader who like Fanny must wait for the happy ending in Mansfield Park. Understanding the enigma that is Fanny Price, – – well, I fear that will remain one of the mysteries of the ages.

Image of Billie Piper as Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, PBS (2007)Be sure to mark your calendars and set you watches for the premiere of Masterpiece Classics’s Mansfield Park, starring Billie Piper as saintly Fanny Price, Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram her friend and saviour, and Hayley Atwell and Joseph Beattie as twisted siblings Mary & Henry Crawford on Sunday, January 27th. at 9:00 pm on PBS. It should be a enigmatic and elightening evening.

*Steel engraving of Newby Hall, Yorkshire by Nathaniel Whittock, from A New and Complete History of the County of York by Thomas Allen (1831). Newby Hall stared as Mansfield Park in the ITV production that will air on The Complete Jane Austen presented by PBS this week. On a very weird side note to anyone who knows how family history can connect serendipitously, Newby Hall was originally owned by the Blackett family who built the present manor designed by Christopher Wren circa 1690. The Blackett family made their fortune in lead ore mines in Yorkshire and Northumberland. My ancestors were miners working for the Blackett-Beamont family for centuries in Allendale, NBL. So, you could say in a round-about way, that my family helped pay for the hall.

True merit

Illustration by A. Wallis Mills, Fanny & Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park, Ch 48MERIT

With so much true merit and true love, and no want of fortune and friends, the happiness of the married cousins must appear as secure as earthly happiness can be. Equally formed for domestic life, and attached to country pleasures, their home was the home of affection and comfort; The Narrator on Rev. & Mrs. Bertram, Mansfield Park, Chapter 48

This is a pleasant beginning for Fanny and Edmund, but in my minds eye, I had not imagined country pleasures as feeding chickens! LOL, the illustrator A. Wallis Mills bucolic vision of country pleasures is entirely different than mine. I prefer a long walk in the hills, or a fine view from a vantage to barnyard chores!

I can not begrudge the couple any happiness however. Jane Austen is wrapping up the story, and these lines are almost the finish of the novel’s tidy ending. After the shocking previous chapter, with all of it’s revelation of indiscretions and sadness, any bright and happy phrase is welcome indeed. So, if Fanny and Edmund are content to feed chickens, so be it.

Here is another view on the merits of a tidy ending in  Mansfield Park  that I found enlightening from the excellent pen of fellow bloger bookchronicle, at Adventures in Reading.

I will say that the concluding chapters of Mansfield Park left me rather anxious. It has been said that Austen’s conclusions reflect an aesthetic air, but I wonder if compartmentalize is not a better word. Austen likes the tidy ending that leaves no questions asked (unless you have a case of over curiosity as myself). While the author says “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery” (679) she still manages to place all of her characters in their moralistic boxes of punishment or privilege. I did enjoy the condemnation of women being punished more severely than men when it comes to infidelity. I do not mean to imply that there is anything wrong with this ending, but after reading three novels in a row it has become somewhat… uniform and perhaps too tidy.

Hmm? Honestly, I was relieved for any structure after the tidal-wave of the previous chapter. If after 48 chapters of twisted emotions the novel ends all tied up in a neat little bow, I can live with.

*Illustration by A. Wallis Mills, “Equally … attached to country pleasures”, chapter 48, Mansfield Park, George F. Harrap & Co, London, (1908) 

Earnestness of sincerity

Illustration by Joan Hassall, Mansfield Park, Chapter 33EARNESTNESS

She (Fanny Price) told him that she did not love him (Henry Crawford), could not love him, was sure she never should love him; that such a change was quite impossible; that the subject was most painful to her; that she must entreat him never to mention it again, to allow her to leave him at once, and let it be considered as concluded for ever… All this she had said, and with the earnestness of sincerity; yet this was not enough, for he immediately denied there being anything uncongenial in their characters, or anything unfriendly in their situations; and positively declared, that he would still love, and still hope! Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, Chapter 33

Please sir, how politely, and in how many ways can one young lady say no?

Open letter to Mr. Henry Crawford

Sir, this is a dear John letter. You may not know what that is since it will not become a cultural idiom for another 150 years. We shall endeavour to enlighten you.

Your attentions are unwelcome sir. The lady does not know why you are interested in her, let alone why you have proposed marriage. She has tried to explain it to you with all the earnestness and sincerity that she can muster, but you do not seem to know what the word NO means. The subject is painful to her and she does not wish to discuss it further.

We know why you will not acknowledge Miss Price’s declination. You are an unprincipled cad sir, who trifles with the affections of young women for your own amusement. We entreat you to pack up your sorry arse, along with that spidery thing you call a sister and remove yourselves immediately to that nether-place that welcomes such wretched souls.

Yours & C

The Propriety Police

*Illustration by Joan Hassall, “She told him, that she did not love him,” page 262, Mansfield Park, The Folio Society, London (1961)

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: