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16 July 2008 @ 04:24 pm
Mansfield Park Discussion  

First off: apologies for this going up so late. There was miscommunication as to who would be posting it and in the end, it simply did not get done. Better fashionably late then never, isn't it?

Now to start us off, we've come up with a few prompts/discussion points to get us moving and they're behind the cut. Feel free to just say what you have to say on any of those or to jump in with your ideas on something else entirely. We're willing to go with the flow.

    º Mrs Norris: is her humour lost in translation?

    º Mary Crawford: selfish & shallow or merely a product of her society?

    º Henry Crawford: how does he compare to the rake characters in general?

    º Edward Bertram: is he really all pious, noble & good or is our view of him tainted by Fanny?

    º The Ending as compared to The Empire Strikes Back: A complete reversal of situations, agree or disagree?
Current Mood: busy
ViolaceousEuphonia: pineapple lovesnowe on July 16th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)

I think that the tragedy of the Crawfords is that they so nearly made the right choices, but failed at the last test. Since I am by no means a perfect person, I have more sympathy with them than with Edmund or Fanny. I'm very fond of Fanny, though not of Edmund so much.

Austen described Mary as "almost purely governed" by "really good feelings" (Ch XV). I think she was just spoilt by living among "fashionable" society. Austen also hints that, had Mary and Edmund wed, her character would have been much improved:

"Experience might have hoped more for any young people so circumstanced, and impartiality would not have denied to Miss Crawford's nature that participation of the general nature of women which would lead her to adopt the opinions of the man she loved and respected as her own." (Chapter XXXVII)

The other ending (Mary/Edmund, Fanny/Henry) was almost possible, and I think it would have been as happy as the ending in the text.

like a bogan gandalf: [P!atD] Brendon's smile is amazing.belle_bing on July 17th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
Out of curiosity, what makes you more sympathetic of Fanny than Edmund? I'm just curious, because I find Edmund to be more relatable in the novel than Fanny. She really gets on my nerves, and the only reason I like her at all, is because I am somewhat fond of her character in the Patricia Rozema film adaptation.
ViolaceousEuphonia: pineapple lovesnowe on July 17th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
I have some sympathy for Fanny's social paralysis, having experienced something like that, to a much milder degree. I like the contrast between her meekness and firmness of mind. She amuses me, too; she's so melodramatic sometimes, and is completely blind to it.

I'm not sure why I find Edmund off-putting. Perhaps it's because we never get in his head. His freak-out over Mary C (so she loves her brother too much to condemn him properly? That's a common enough failing!) annoyed me. He's a very good man, to be sure, but he's too priggish and rigid for me. Henry Tilney is my kind of clergyman!

I liked the darker take that Rozema's film had, although Fanny's character was much changed. I have a love/hate relationship with Regency fiction. The lifestyle fascinates and disgusts me, and I thought she did a good job highlighting the oppression that propped up the wealthy British of the time.
like a bogan gandalf: [CS] vickyt is pretty much the hottest gbelle_bing on July 17th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
You don't find it annoying that she expects things of others she cannot possibly live up to herself? That she [implicitly] expects perfect behaviour and manners of her cousins and looks down on them when they do not behave as she would like? This is why I find Fanny the least likeable of all the Austen heroines, because she doesn't allow for faults in anyone. Not even Edmund, and he's trying to be what Fanny expects him to be, but she faults him for it anyway.

I definitely liked Rozema's adaptation. I haven't seen the other ones, but I thought she did a really good job of balancing the regency lifestyle with the political statement about slavery and the issues with the plantation. And the sly remark about tobacco at the end. I always enjoyed that, although I suppose that is with a 21st century citizen's hindsight.
ViolaceousEuphonia: pineapple lovesnowe on July 17th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
This is why I find Fanny the least likeable of all the Austen heroines, because she doesn't allow for faults in anyone.

I think she's so harsh, internally, because she has no means to express herself--she's so trapped by the role of dependent cousin. Also, she's very young--ambiguity tends to come with age and experience. Fanny had never even been out to dine, I believe, until Mrs. Grant invited her. She does need some life-experiences, so that she can learn some compassion for human frailty. She's definitely the most sheltered Austen heroine.

I don't think we can ever really explain why we like this character, and not that one, because so much of it is irrational and subconscious anyways. :)
like a bogan gandalf: [P!atD] adorable otp!belle_bing on July 17th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
I don't think we can ever really explain why we like this character, and not that one, because so much of it is irrational and subconscious anyways. :)

Very true. :D
like a bogan gandalf: [P!atD] Jon smells like christmas and spbelle_bing on July 17th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
So, lovelies who are partaking in this discussion, how do we feel about Austen bringing the slavery issue into this novel, when her other novels seem to be contained with in a very specific middle-class bubble?
[professional life ruiner.]: ab.dimestore novels & penny thieveslookslikelove on July 22nd, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
I thought it was an interesting topic to breach. This book seemed a bit more morally aware than some of her others (or perhaps it was simply the characters themselves who were more defined by their moral or immoral actions). It was an issue that made sense given that the patriarch of the Bertram family went off to Antigua for such a long time, that the subject came up at all.

Also, wasn't the issue starting to become something of one for political discussion at the time of Austen's writing?