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Essay The Importance of Home and Family in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

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The Importance of Home and Family in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

 
   "They were a remarkably fine family...and all of them well-grown and forward of

their age, which produced as striking a difference between the cousins in

person, as education had given to their address." (Austen, 49)  Within the first

few pages of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen implants in the minds of her readers

the idea that contrasting and conflicting environments are the forces that will

decide the heroine's fate.  Austen's own home and family influenced her life,

writing, and the creation of the homes in her novels, and in turn, shaped her

heroines.

 

But Fanny Price is unique among Jane Austen's heroines, having much more with

which to contend than simply the influence of one family.  In fact, it is the

differences between her two homes and families that cause Fanny and the novel to

turn out the way they do.  Yet the heroine finds herself in this situation only

because of the influence of the Austen family on the characters in Mansfield

Park.  Not only can parallels easily be drawn between lively, theatrical,

handsome Henry Crawford and Henry Austen, reputedly Jane's favorite brother1,

but the imprint of Jane's siblings also shows in Fanny herself.  Sent to live as

a young child with wealthy cousins, Fanny's situation much resembles that of

Jane's elder brother Edward.  As her nephew wrote in A Memoir of Jane Austen,

Edward Austen "had been a good deal separated from the rest of the family, as he

was early adopted by his cousin, Mr. Knight, of Godmersham Park." (Austen-Leigh,

280)  Just like Edward, Fanny "finally came into poss...


... middle of paper ...


... that he wanted." (Austen, 456)  When Fanny finally becomes mistress

of the estate, the transition is complete-to herself and to the Bertrams,

Mansfield truly is her home.

 

            By the end of the novel, Fanny has emerged triumphant-the conflict

in which Jane Austen placed her changed and formed her self-identity.  She

returns to the country, the pleasures of springtime, and the warmth of a loving

family that her creator would have enjoyed as well.  The reader is convinced

that in such a home, "with so much true merit and true love...the happiness of the

married cousins must appear as secure as earthly happiness can be." (Austen,

456)

 

Works Cited

 

Austen, Jane.  MansfieldPark, 1814. Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd, 1966.

 

Austen-Leigh, J. E.  A Memoir of Jane Austen, 1870.

 


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