Get a crowd of Jane Austen fans together, and bring up her 1814 novel Mansfield Park. Watch the reaction! Glory in the conflicting opinions!
Mansfield Park is commonly thought of as Jane Austen’s “problem novel,” due to the heroine of the piece, Fanny Price. Fanny is neither lively, witty, nor sparkling. She’s a keen observer of the social scene around her, and she’s famous among Austen heroines for her moral vision and her tenacity in sticking to what she believes to be right.
I think Fanny Price is pretty awesome. She’s quiet, she’s tough, and she sticks to her guns in spite of a ton of opposition from the people around her.
Also, Mansfield Park presents one of Austen’s villains most foul: the overbearing, often cruel Aunt Norris. The tragedy is that Aunt Norris is so thoroughly enmeshed into the fabric of the Mansfield family that her corrosive influence seeps everywhere.
The Heights Library owns a really beautiful edition of Mansfield Park, an edition thoroughly worthy of Jane Austen’s incomparable prose. Check it out and find out what you think of Fanny Price!
And, of course, there is a movie version as well!
The British author Joan Aiken has written a sequel, Mansfield Park Revisited.
And for a summertime spin-off adventure, try My Jane Austen Summer.
Finally, if you strongly dislike Fanny Price (and many do), you can always find a lively Austen heroine in Pride and Prejudice.
But, I kind of hope you like Fanny as much as I do. I must admit it.