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The Character of Mrs. Norris in Mansfield Park

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The Character of Mrs. Norris in Mansfield Park   

For any character there are three main ways of learning about them. Firstly, how the character themselves thinks and behaves. Secondly, how other characters respond to the character. Lastly, how the author discusses the character is very revealing. Each of these views of Mrs. Norris is provided by the author.

Mrs Norris is only related to Mansfield Park through her sister, Lady Bertram. While she may not have managed to make the affluent marriage that her sister did, there is no doubting her love of money. Sir Thomas Bertram provides an income for Mrs Norris' husband, a member of the clergy. This enables them to live in comfort and in close proximity to the house at Mansfield Park.

Mrs Norris is possibly the shallowest character in the community of Mansfield Park. She has no qualms about marrying for security, not love. Outward appearance is everything to her, especially how others perceive her. However, this leads her to make decisions for the wrong reasons: "[She] found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr Norris". When Rev. Mr Norris dies, Austen hints at the perhaps loveless marriage that Mrs Norris was a part of: "[She] consoled herself by considering that she could do very well wit...

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...ever received kindness from her aunt.

Jane Austen is always influencing our view of Mrs Norris, whether directly or indirectly. Mrs Norrisí own actions show what an opinionated, bossy woman she is. While the relative indifference of those around may more suggestive of their own characters, it shows how oppressive she is. Finally, Austen herself directly affects what we think of Mrs Norris with her own commentary in the the text. There are moments of authorial voice that simply give frank insights into the character of Mrs Norris. The summation of these three points is how the reader comes to an understanding of Mrs Norris.


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