Saturday, June 15, 2013
About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northhampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income.
All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it.
She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage.
But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.
Mansfield Park - Volume I – Chapter 1.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
"'I think the man who could often quarrel with Fanny,' said Edmund, affectionately, 'must be beyond the reach of any sermons.'"
A child sent far from home and all that is familiar to live with unknown relatives... Will this sudden uprooting give her the chance of a better life? Or will it make it worse by throwing her into the path of unkind people and different privations?
Will this difficult change to her existence bring hope and new opportunities? Or will it only benefit her by assuring food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof over her head?
How does a sensitive young child cope with the knowledge that she has been given up by her parents?
It is remarkably easy to turn to those who give us kindness when we are lonely. How thankful we feel. But when does simple gratitude turn to passionate love in a lonely and vulnerable heart?
And most importantly - how does Argus Filch’s cat figure into discussions regarding Mansfield Park?
These questions may be answered as you read through this third published work by Jane Austen but you will need to give the book careful attention and thought. It is challenging in its depth but rewarding in its value of Austen’s expert execution.
Written at Chawton Cottage between February 1811 and 1813 and published July 1814, Mansfield Park remains one of the most serious and controversial of Austen’s major novels.
We are pulled into personal feelings of conflict by Austen’s expert writing. What do we think of Fanny Price? The tendency may be to think of her as priggish or occasionally as a - how else is it to be said - a wimp?
But does Fanny Price have a strength of character and a moral integrity that makes her admirable and worthy of emulation? The complex characters in this edgier Austen novel merit examination. Give them consideration and reflection as you read.
If you have ever experienced being the “outsider” in a group then you might feel an undercurrent of empathy for this young woman. She lives with a group of people that she is never allowed to feel quite on equal footing with or recognized as their equal. Over the years she forms a knowledge of herself that allows her to stand firm in the face of opposition. And sometimes that very self-possession brings its own rewards… even love and admiration.
The Jane Austen Tea Society has happily returned to a study of our beloved Regency author’s works in the order in which they were published. Our third selection will be Mansfield Park with a High Tea and Book Discussion to take place on Saturday the 13th of July 2013 at 2pm.
There is plenty of time – start reading!