Mansfield Park

They say "third time's the charm" so I chose my third Jane Austen novel with great care. I had heard that Mansfield Park was Austen's particular favorite and she was particularly enamored with the heroine - Fanny Price.

I suppose I should offer some praise for this book rather than continue to be negative about Austen's writings just on general principle. I suppose I could praise this one more than others if it weren't for the fact that Austen's heroine does not come across as very likeable nor does she evoke any emotion other than perhaps pity bordering on disgust. Not that Fanny is completely unlikeable, but I found her overly stubborn and at the same time very meek - and not in a good way. I myself am overly stubborn, but do not hold to a first impression when other evidence comes forward to allow for a change of position.

Fanny's problem is that she dislikes Mr. Crawford with good reason at the first but when he later engages himself to the benefit of her brother and herself, she will not allow herself to like him - not solely because she holds his previous behavior against him - though that would certainly be just cause - but because she fancies her cousin Edmund though she has no hope that feelings are returned. In the end, her judgment does show correct as Mr. Crawford proves untrue to his ardent attentions to Fanny, but I just cannot fathom why she could not explain her dislike to at least Edmund - who has been her confidante in all other aspects - and let him speak for her to his father. Instead, she simply claims that she cannot every see herself liking Mr. Crawford well enough to marry him and ignores the evidence that her uncle truly cares for her well-being. In fact, had she been willing to tell her uncle her reasons for disliking Mr. Crawford, he might well have been able to avoid the scandal that involves both his daughters. But Fanny is so afraid of her own shadow that while she can be quite passionate about her feelings, she will not share them with those who can help her.

I did try to watch the movie after reading the book and found that I was just as annoyed with her character onscreen as in writing and the only good thing about having read the book was that I did not have to pay too much attention to the movie but could easily multi-task and even leave the room for blocks of time without missing anything.

You will not hear me complain anymore about Austen's books. Neil has forbidden me to read any more of her works.


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