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Mansfield Park


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**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?

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Its strange, I was posting about this same thing on pemberley.com just yesterday! There seems to be a whole 'Fanny and Henry' lobby out there. Maybe when I read Mansfield Park for the second time Fanny will also grow on me a little but for now I think she's so annoying! My general impression was that no one is really happy at the end of the novel, even Fanny, as Edmund has taken so bloody long to realise she loves him (ooh, I want to give him a right talking to!) and she only gets him, as someone said on pemberley 'on the rebound'! Or am I guilty of an unnecessary aversion to second attachments, a la Sense & Sensibility?


Austen suggests Henry would have been improved by marrying Fanny, but I can't believe it. I think he would have got bored and been unfaithful, and Fanny would die pining for Edmund. On the other hand what has he done to deserve her? And I know what you mean about the sisterly/brotherly thing, its uncomfortable. I think I wasn't satisfied because I would have liked to see Fanny's confidence increase and for her husband to let all that pent up passion and frustration I hope she has come out. And Edmund is too unsure of himself to be able to do that.


Apparently Austen may have changed her mind about the conclusion of the story as she was writing it. I find interesting contrasts with Pride & Prejudice as neither of the main characters undergo a transformation, and I feel Edmund would need a transformation for me to be happy with him to marry Fanny, and if Fanny went through a transformation I might feel more sympathetic. There are signals Henry is deeply changing but they are cut off half way through. I wonder if Austen almost made Henry into the Darcy of the nook but changed her mind half way through?


Sorry my thoughts on this are so disorganised!

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It has been a little while since I read Mansfield Park and I feel pretty much the same as the "Fanny and Henry" lobby I think. It seems that if Fanny had been that little bit more enthusiastic towards Henry he would have stuck around and they would have made a great couple. I don't think Fanny is such a cold fish that she couldn't have been brought out of her shell by Henry's wit and vivacity and from spending more time in company. And I think she would have been a steadying influence on his character, provided they stayed away from Mary!


As far as Edmund and Fanny are concerned I can see Edmund, being faced with the proposition that some women are capable of deception, turning immediately to someone who is the complete opposite. Austen returns to this theme in Persuasion, but I won't go into that in case you haven't read it. Given the quiet and retiring nature of Edmund's job, Fanny's character would probably continue much as it is in the book and in that case they would be perfect for each other - but I wish she had the chance for more!


Ultimately I don't think it is as happy an ending as it could have been. Fanny needs to laugh until her sides ache and she isn't likely to if she's married to Edmund, but married to Henry she might have done.

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I haven't read Mansfield Park for an age because alongside the gothic sillyness of Northanger Abbey it is my least favourite Austen novel. I think because I find Fanny a bit tiresome in all her virtue and her sometimes milksop attitude makes me want to give her a good shake. Despite this, ANY Austen conversation on this website makes me perk up, and flex my fingers over the keyboard.

When I read MP I did find it less humourous and slightly more didactic than say Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I am not from the Fanny and Henry camp, I think she showed remarkable sense in that respect. No amount of laughing would compensate for the enevitable womanising that Henry would engage in. He always strikes me as someone who aims to please a lady!!! He has a weakness where skirt is concerned and the fact that he runs off with a married woman and THEN ditches her as well really shows his true colours; just not the done thing dontchya know.

Dear Edmund always struck me as someone who got carried away with Miss Crawford's beauty and his own wishful idealistic view that the beauty was not only skin deep (a very naive view) He never really saw how well suited Fanny was for him because she was already his friend and his for the taking? It was his mistake that he took her for granted, don't men always seem to wish for a challenge? Maybe even potential clergy have to prove their mettle.


I have just tottered over to my bookcase and looked up how it all ends to refresh my memory and I love the sarcastic 'happy ending' that Austen writes for her two main characters as if that now the fun and strife has ended, their happy ending is assured and therefore not even worth talking about because that's never as interesting as all the gossip, intrigue and scandal! Its like she's just tying up an intimate conversation between two friends exchanging the 'news'. Skip the mushy stuff, its taken as read its a happy ending for the goodies and not so happy for the baddies.

When Edmund finishes mourning the loss of his romantic ideals over Mary Crawford and starts to notice how Fanny maybe the one for him

"... Scarcely had he done regretting Mary Crawford, and observing to Fanny how impossible it was that he should ever meet with such another woman, before it began to strike him whether a very different kind of woman might not do just as well - or a great deal better; whether Fanny herself were not growing as dear..."

"I Purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that everyone may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only intreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny, as Fanny herself could desire..."


Doesn't that make you smile..? Austen knew that people of all ages and temperament will read her story and so she gives them leave to make up their own mind as to how long 'true attachments' take to transfer. It made me laugh - a cynical ending to a love story- so Austen.

I think both Edmund and Fanny experience what most people when they are young feel at one time. Who hasn't had a crush or fancied the wrong or innapropriate person? I think I'd rather put their mistakes down to youth and lack of worldly experience.. Having reflected on their lucky escapes they are in a better position to realise what they have between them.


Okay.. maybe I've gone on way too long, just imagine how much drivel I can talk when its one of my favourite Austen's. I better send this post before I delete it. Does that happen to anyone else, I'm so fearful of seeming stupid that I delete more posts that I write than I send.

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I've just re-read Mansfield Park as it's one of my exam texts, and while I really liked it the first time I read it, I found the whole Fanny-Henry-Edmund thing somewhat annoying this time round. Yes, I can understand why she's in love with Edmund, and yes, I can understand why Henry would be attracted to her... What I don't get is that everyone wants her to marry Henry even though she doesn't love him (as she is love with someone else!). I also don't think marrying Fanny would have changed Henry. He was, after all, seriously in love with her (or pretended to be) when he ran of with Maria (who was married at the time) - what would stop him from repeating that when married to Fanny? And then there's the ending... Yep, it did take Edmund an awfully long time to realise Fanny loved him, and yep, it also took him an awfully long time to respond to her love. But I think the quiet wedding at the end fitted the mood of the book very well... Edmund was temporarily blinded and bedazzled by Mary's beauty, wit and accomplishedness, but in the long run both he and she would have been unhappy as she if far too city-bred and he far too homely to come to a satisfying compromise. Fanny, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with living as a parson's wife...


Oh, what I really like about Mansfield Park is the theatre interlude - it's so much fun in the middle of a typical Austen romance! Might have something to do with the fact that I absolutely adore Lovers Vows, though....

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What I don't get is that everyone wants her to marry Henry even though she doesn't love him (as she is love with someone else!).


Because love is blind and we don't always love the person who is best for us :D


But if you're talking about Mr Bertram wanting her to marry Henry then it is probably because he has plenty of money and an appearance of goodness and genuine feeling. What father could ask for more, especially as he doesn't know Fanny is in love with Edmund.


I also don't think marrying Fanny would have changed Henry. He was, after all, seriously in love with her (or pretended to be) when he ran of with Maria (who was married at the time)


Ahh but he thinks Fanny doesn't love him and Henry is the sort of character that doesn't like to waste his time on non-starters. I still maintain that if Fanny had given him just a hint of encouragement he would have stayed near her in Portsmouth and not bothered with Maria. Who could love a Maria when there is a Fanny? ;)


I agree with you about the theatre interlude, lots of fun!

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  • 1 year later...

I was sure I contributed to this thread since I love this book. However, cannot find anything in google's cache.


Let me just say, I really liked Fanny Price and the way she stood up to all that pressure. Don't know whether Edward is really the right guy for her, but certainly better than that Henry guy.

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Yep, it did take Edmund an awfully long time to realise Fanny loved him, and yep, it also took him an awfully long time to respond to her love.


I think one of the reasons for this is that Fanny is only just 18 when Mary arrives and Edmund is 24. Mary is a lot closer to him in age, and she's also a lot closer to him in terms of self assurance.

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There are a lot of very funny lines in MP. I love this :


(Tom says) "And as to my father’s being absent, it is so far from an objection (to our performing a play), that I consider it rather as a motive; for the expectation of his return must be a very anxious period to my mother; and if we can be the means of amusing that anxiety, and keeping up her spirits for the next few weeks, I shall think our time very well spent, and so, I am sure, will he. It is a very anxious period for her.”


As he said this, each looked towards their mother. Lady Bertram, sunk back in one corner of the sofa, the picture of health, wealth, ease, and tranquillity, was just falling into a gentle doze.



Tom's one of my favourite characters, and I think he'd have made a very good butler in Lovers' Vows :)


And if anyone would like to see a trailer for the new Austen season on UK TV (which will be shown on US TV in November, I believe) there's a link on Pemberley:


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And if anyone would like to see a trailer for the new Austen season on UK TV (which will be shown on US TV in November, I believe) there's a link on Pemberley:



Thanks for the tip Amanda.


Good grief, Billy Piper is playing Fanny Price!! Doesn't seem to be an obvious casting. But Sally Hawkins looks like a great choice for Anne Elliot, I liked her in Fingersmith. I'm glad ITV have gone for the lesser known Austen's. Imdb says the last time they did an adaptation of Northanger Abbey was in 1986. Might have to re-read NA and MP soon :)

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There's a publicity photo from the new MP here:




The first thing that struck me was that Fanny is slouching. Fanny slouching? :( In fact, I don't know how she managed to slouch in a corset :confused:


The second thing that struck me was that her hair was loose. I was unhappy with this until I wondered if they'd done it deliberately to show how young she is, and maybe they'll put her hair up towards the end.


But these quibbles aside, I'm really looking forward to it. I agree, there can never be too many Austen adaptations. In fact, I think TV has missed a trick by not having a Fantasy Austen show - like fantasy football, only you pick your favourite Darcy, favourite Lizzy, favourite Mr Bennet etc and put them all together :)


Btw, is this the right place to talk about TV adaptations?

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There's a publicity photo from the new MP here:




In that photo, Fanny should be the one who is sat down on the bench, the one on the background, shy and retiring. Not the one giving attitude to the camera in the front :) I agree about the hair, it struck me too in the video clip I saw.


Of course I'll be watching all three avidly and I'm sure we've chatted about adaptations in other threads (Pride and Prejudice springs to mind :) )

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  • 9 months later...

This is JA's novel of feeling. Wit is suspect, brilliance decried, thus the Crawfords (whom we love) we are supposed to despise. This shows the difference between early 19th C and 20/21st C attitudes to love and marriage. Suitability (narrowly defined) is more important than love. Henry is unsuitable (in the book's terms unworthy) for Fanny.

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  • 1 month later...
This shows the difference between early 19th C and 20/21st C attitudes to love and marriage.


It would seem neither of the two formulas are a total success or a total failure.

Lots of marriages that may have taken place due to suitability may have been a success in that period and lots of marriages for love have and do end in failure in this period.


I think Jane Austen was very wise in combining these two qualities in her characters to show that both were necessary, because all her heroes and heroines marry for love a person who is also very suitable.


Just some musings. :D

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