Book Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen// spoilers marked

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Release Date: 1814
Genre: classic literature
Age Range: adult

✨ all spoilers are in pink text. I could not write my review or explain why i enjoyee this book without bringing up certain parts

Fanny Price goes to live with her rich relatives, the Bertram’s of Mansfield Park, from the age of ten.

She grows up an outsider among her privileged and spoilt cousins. She is quiet and makes herself useful by keeping her aunt company.

When Sir Thomas leaves to settle some business overseas a new addition to Mansfield arrives in the form of the Crawford siblings, Mary and Henry. They bring with them their London sophistication and glamour.

The residents of Mansfield Park are captivated by them, all except Fanny.

As I was starting Mansfield Park, six people dm’ed to tell me that this is Austen’s slowest book and that I shouldn’t expect it to WOW me like the others have. I’m glad these people told me this because it made me go in with low expectations and it made me pay more attention as I wanted to see why everyone seems to dislike this book and it’s heroine Fanny Price, who I’ve heard described as weak and boring.

From my high rating I’m sure you’ve figured out that I absolutely enjoyed this book. In this review I’ll explain why.

Mansfield Park is very different from Jane Austen’s other works. It does not have a grand romance like that of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. It has a different tone, and the themes are more pronounced. Even though Mansfield Park is considerably slower paced than her others, Austen still shines in her descriptive writing that always manages to snag my attention and keep it hooked.

I was here for Austen’s beautiful storytelling and clever observations. The social commentary, and critiques on aristocracy. The family dynamics and general mayhem of clashing personalities. Here I was, sitting with my bowl of popcorn, watching as it all played out masterfully.

Fanny is shy, introverted, has a weak constitution, and is often emotional. She seems submissive and weak. She does not make a fuss about being overlooked. She takes every hit of criticism and gaslighting from her Aunt Norris without complaint.

Now you may ask yourself: why would Jane Austen write such a character and make her our heroine? It doesn’t make any sense. She’s so unlike what we’ve come to expect.

I think she did it on purpose. To show us, but most importantly her audience of young girls at the time who this book was intended for, that strength takes many forms.  That the quiet ones can be strong too. Fanny is not witty like Elizabeth Bennett. She is not outspoken or charming.

Elizabeth Bennet is who they dreamt of being, but often Fanny Price was their reality.

Our generation finds it difficult to accept an introverted heroine who is “too emotional”. We like to see our heroines taking down their adversaries with determination and funny lines. We want them to be badass. Which is awesome too!

Fanny likes to be helpful and she feels deeply. The amount of times she cried in this book is quite more than I’m used to seeing. But why is that such a bad thing? Why do we always equate tears to weakness?

From the moment Fanny arrives at Mansfield Park she has been constantly reminded that she is not equal to her cousins, of how lucky she is, of how she relies on the goodwill of her uncle and aunts, of how she is there at the mercy of them. I find it hard to believe that these comments did not hurt Fanny.

But she never reacts to these statements, to the cruel things being said to her and even right in front of her. She is always composed and that takes a strength that I for one would not be able to manage. She knows that she is in no position to complain and that doing so would probably just make things harder for herself and that’s why she endures it all. Then she waits till she’s alone and let’s all her feelings loose. I admire this girl immensely. I could never ever. I think I’d go insane.

Fanny has a quiet strength. She is steadfast and does not sway from her principles. If she was as weak as everyone claims, she would have agreed to marry Mr Crawford . But she didn’t. No matter how many times she was asked, she said no. Full stop.
She would not let herself be persuaded into a marriage she knew was never going to make her happy. Even angering her uncle who she very much respects.

I’ve seen many people argue that the only reason Fanny did not like Mary was because she was jealous. I don’t think so.

Fanny is always in the background and this has made her a good observer. She listens, she watches. And she saw through both the Crawford siblings.

The Crawford siblings who are both skilled at charming and getting people to like them.

When Mary Crawford enters the story I was also enchanted by her. Here was the Austen heroine I was expecting! She is beautiful, enchanting, witty and unafraid to speak her mind! I could not comprehend why Mary wasn’t our MC in the first place. But then I started to notice the things that Fanny noticed about her. How alike she was to her brother.

These two are the definition of bored and entitled. They find winning people over and using them as a sort of game. They only do kind things if it will make them look good.

I applaud our girl Fanny for her resilience and her stubbornness in not giving in to the wishes and attempted persuasion to get her  married off to Henry. Even when he did start to clean up his act she could have taken him at his word. I started feeling sorry for him as well. His charm seeps off the pages. But fanny will not stake her happiness on a few pretty words.

The only thing that bothered me a bit…. Okay maybe not bother but I have no particular feelings for is the romance between Fanny and Edmund. They are cousins so obviously that grossed me out. However these were different times and that was considered pretty normal. In my mind I pretended they were childhood friends so I wouldn’t be completely revolted.

I don’t have any strong feelings towards Edmund, negative or positive. He’s okay I guess. A bit blind when it comes to Mary and her faults. Love blinds people I suppose, and Mary really worked her charm on him.

He’s no Darcy or Captain Wentworth is all I’m gonna say.

The book starts off with Fanny overlooked, a side character in her own life. And ends with her appreciated and loved, living the life she wants.

Mansfield Park is the most debated book by Austen. I do believe people neglect it in favour of her other stories with it’s sparkly and lively heroines. If you read this carefully, pay attention to detail and keep an open mind — I think Mansfield Park could become a favourite of yours as well.

Have you read this book? Have you read any of Austen’s other work? Let me know!

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