Thursday, 4 September 2008

Mansfield Park

Now i love a good period novel, but I just finished reading Jane Austen's Mansfield Park last night and i have to say, i was more than a little disappointed with the ending.

Of course, taking into consideration the time it was written, it was published in 1814, Mansfield seemed too restrained and serious. The plot never really picks up momentum and the main character, Fanny, is too timid and judgemental.

I almost wished that Fanny had married Mr Crawford, at least she could of have a bit of fun and lived a little! It was frustrating that Edmund hadn't paid any attention to Fanny until the very ending of the book. In my opinion, Edmund was a selfish character who would have married Miss Crawford had it not been for the scandal towards the end of Mansfield Park. Fanny was almost an afterthought to him, there was never anything but brotherly regard for her throughout.

A modern version of Fanny would have given up on Edmund, or at the very least given him a good old shake and told him exactly how she felt!But that, i guess, is the difference between modern woman versus Regency period woman. At the time women were seen as delicate creatures, who were expected to be accomplished in needlework and music, not speak their own mind openly.

Mansfield Park was published after Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice and at the time was highly praised for its moral theme. It is seen as her first 'grown-up novel' which she wrote after the death of her father. Jane Austen even wrote to her brother Frank in 1813 'I have something in hand - which i hope on the credit of P&P will sell well, tho' not half so entertaining.'

On a more positive note i did like the description of day-to-day Regency life. The custom of afternoon tea and the descriptions of how women spent their evenings (Mainly playing cribbage and doing needlework) made it easy to imagine what it was like to live a wealthy existence in Regency England.

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