**Spoilers** Be warned! (would have used the cool spoiler tag but pretty much the whole post is for people who have already read the book)
I've just finished re-reading Mansfield Park and I'm having dilemmas over the whole Fanny/Edmund/Henry thing! I find the ending quite unsatisfactory, but I can't put my finger on why.....I'm not sure I wanted Fanny to marry Edmund, I almost feel like she should have married Henry, but I'm not sure that would have been satisfactory either...I'm confused!
Does Edmund really love Fanny or is he just settling for second best? Does Fanny only love Edmund because he's the only person who has constantly made her feel special throughout her life? Is she grateful rather than in love? (although SHE obviously believes she's in love, is she mistaken?).
Austen implies that, had Henry not run off with Maria and Mary's character subsequently been revealed to Edmund that Mary and Edmund would have married and Henry would have eventually won Fanny over. Would this have been a happier ending for Fanny or not?
I remember hating Fanny Price the first time I read Mansfield Park, but I have to admit she grew on me a little bit, and I don't hate her so much as I'm exasperated with her. I kept picturing the wee woman with the funny glasses that never speaks in that tv show Teachers! She's a bit annoying but I did want her to be happy and I'm not sure her marriage with Edmund will be so.
What do other people think? I only finished it about 20 minutes ago so all the issues are pretty fresh in my mind and I haven't consolidated my ideas yet. The whole marriage thing comes pretty quickly at the end, doesn't really give you a chance to reflect! Obviously having read it before I knew what to expect but I couldn't remember how it came about. Edmund's attachment seems a little sudden - he thinks of her in a seemingly a-sexual, sisterly way for 99% of the novel, so it's a little hard to accept when he decides he actually loves her as a wife!
So will Fanny and Edmund be happy?
Although not a favourite of some die-hard Janeites, Austen's pastiche on the then fashionable Gothic novel Northanger Abbey is an enjoyable read.
Catherine Morland meets and falls for a nice young clergyman in Bath. Befriended by the man's sister, Catherine is invited to their home (Northanger Abbey). Having an overactive imagination fed on the Gothic tales she has been reading, Catherine behaves as though she was in one of these overblown stories, and the fledgling romance flounders.
Eventually all is resolved, and everyone who should lives happily ever after.
Northanger Abbey is the current 'Classic Serial' being broadcast in 3 parts on Sunday afternoons on BBC Radio4, (starting today) at 3pm, and repeated the following Saturday evenings at 9pm.
Lady Susan - Jane Austen - 1795
I know this is not a very large book, but I read it a while ago and thought I would mention it here.
Jane Austen never really finished this book. But - though it has an end, she just never refined her work. I would have loved to see this as a complete novel, I'm sure it would have been one of her very good ones.
(thread first started 15.01.07)
Emma - Jane Austen - 1816
She might be right there. However, there is something likeable in Emma, after all. She is rather selfish and starts a lot of different things only to abandon them later but she means well with other people. She might be too intelligent for her time, women were not supposed to think.Emma is the Jane Austen's only heroine without money problems, that's already a difference to her other novels. Maybe that's what makes it so interesting.
(thread first started 15.01.07)
Amanda Grange 13th May 2006 09:35 AM
I thought I'd start a thread on Persuasion, because it's often people's favourite Austen, and there's so much to discuss.
One of the remarks often made about Austen's books is that they ignore the events going on in Europe at the time, but I disagree with this. The plot of Pride and Prejudice revolves, to a certain extent, around the militia, and Persuasion is very firmly based in the events of the day.
Wentworth's naval career is integral to the plot. He is, before the book opens, bold, fearless, and newly promoted. This is important because it makes two entirely opposite opinions of him credible. Anne sees the bold, fearless optimism and the future success, and falls in love with it. Lady Russell sees the overconfidence, the uncertainty of his life and the long periods of loneliness ahead for his wife. When she meddles, I don't dislike her for it - well, not much - because she is genuinely worried for Anne's future happiness.
His career also makes it credible that Sir Walter would despise him, whilst still consenting to his marrying Anne. This is necessary, because it means that, on the one hand, we can see that Anne would find it difficult to stand out against her family's disapproval, and on the other, it is Anne who has to eventually turn him down. This leads to the hostility that keeps them apart in the future.
It's interesting that this is the only Austen (IIRC) in which the woman is about to marry a man who is the poorer of the two, and of a lower standing socially. Usually, the women marry men who are richer and higher, socially, than they.
Wentworth's career then takes him away for years, which allows the plot of rejection and reconciliation possible. It also allows him to rise in the world, which isn't essential to the plot, but helps with the happy ending.
David 13th May 2006 11:34 AM
You're right, Amanda, a lot of people cite Persuasion as their favourite, and I can see why that might be. It feels like the most mature of Austen's novels in many ways, although this is possibly why it doesn't top my list.
For me it lacks much of the lightness of touch and the humour that characterise the other novels - not that it's absent, just relegated to a far more minor theme in the orchestral movement. I find Emma charts just the right course for me between the sweet sparkle of Pride and Prejudice and the more thoughtful, quiet and reflective tones of Persuasion. I'm also not quite so taken by Anne, who doesn't have the feisty spirit of Lizzy or the fascinating flaws and huge journey of self-discovery of Emma.
Of course it is still a great novel and I love it, but not to the same degree!
There is a greater awareness of contemporary events in Persuasion, and I think that's part of its maturity. I would have to disagree that P&P concerns itself in this way, though - the militia are there not with any consciousness of actual military roles, but as the embodiment of the girls' romantic dreams, as well as representing one of the two main vocational avenues for men - the army, as opposed to Collins and the clergy. We would no more think of them going to war than we would think of Mr Collins ranking God higher up the ladder of authority than Lady Catherine!
Momo 13th May 2006 12:33 PM
When it comes to a great author like Jane Austen, it is hard to pick your favourite. Some of her novels are quite different to her others, and Persuasion surely is one of them.
I have never read an Austen novel as a teen or young adult and so hae always judged from the adult point of view. Maybe that's the reason why Persuasion is my favourite.
Jane Austen has always been critizised because she writes about people of a certain social status only. Yes, she does, and that's good. Because that was about the kind of people she knew, the kind of world she lives in. And that's why her novels are so great. She knows what she's writing about.
What I like most in Persuasion is the way she captured the problems women were facing at the time. Especially the part where she explains to Captain Harville the difference between men's and women's feelings and their way of living. I thought she managed to come across so well, you just could feel her thoughts.
And nobody ever said that her novels were historical ones. They are, but only of the small world she lived in and knew.
Pride & Prejudice is much more lively, Emma as well, and I love both of them. But if I was allowed to take one of Jane Austen's books only to a desert island, Persuasion it would be.
Darkstar 13th May 2006 12:58 PM
Persuasion is certainly my favourite Austen, perhaps because it is her most mature work (IMHO). P&P and S&S are great fun, and I enjoyed Northanger Abbey, but Emma never did much for me.
Amanda Grange 13th May 2006 01:00 PM
I'm not sure how I got a smilie at the top of this post, but I can't seem to get rid of it.
Yes, I love this speech:
"Your feelings may be the strongest," replied Anne, "but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship. Your home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life, to be called your own. It would be too hard, indeed" (with a faltering voice), "if woman's feelings were to be added to all this."
The thought seems to have been in the air at the time, because it's very similar to Byron's, "Man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence," only, of course, Persuasion came first.
I like the differing views of women Austen gives us, though. Mrs Croft sails the seas with her husband.She's very well travelled, leading to one of my favourite exchanges in the book, between her and Mrs Musgrove: "(I) never was in the West Indies. We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies."
Mrs Musgrove had not a word to say in dissent; she could not accuse herself of having ever called them anything in the whole course of her life."
David 13th May 2006 01:03 PM
Some lovely quotations, Amanda!
(As for the smilie at the top, under the text box there are smilies with check-box circles. You need to click on "No icon".)