Jane Austin's Mansfield Park is not widely accepted by critics. The novel's criticism is due to the heroine, Fanny Price. Since Fanny does not encompass the conventional characteristics of a heroine (charm, wit, and beauty), critics hold the opinion that she is passive, week, and boring. Ironically, Austin's goal was to demonstrate that superficial charm and wit are nice, but there are more important characteristics such as discipline, morality, and depth of character (Moore 139). For example, many critics claim that the Crawfords should be the heroes based on their charm, but it becomes evident as the novel unfolds that they lack principals and care for none but themselves. Fanny's superiority as a heroine is observed in Mary and Henry Crawford's undisciplined, unprincipled, improper actions throughout the novel.
The reader is introduced to Henry Crawford's true nature early in the novel. Though Henry's appearance is charming and witty, he lacks depth of character. Henry reveals his character through flirtations with Julia and Maria Bertram. For example, during the drive to Sotherton Estate, he pays his attentions to Julia; but after they arrive he remains at Maria's side. Henry does not hesitate to assure Maria that she is the favorite (after reassuring Julia of the same). The scene takes place while Henry and Maria wait in the Sotherton Woods for her fiancee', Mr. Rushworth, to fetch the key to the ha-ha so they can pass through the gate.
" `...You and Julia were laughing the whole way,'
`Were we? ... I believe I was relating to her some ridiculous stories of an old Irish uncle of mine. Your sister loves to laugh.'
`You think her more ...
... middle of paper ...
...ing in that time period. Fanny and Edmund are the only two that understand it is not appropriate. When Edmund and Fanny warn the cast, the cast ridicules them for being so concerned. Peter De Rose says they lack memory, `the purveyor of reason, the power which places those images before the mind upon which the judgment is to be exercised," (De Rose 269).
It can now be determined that Fanny Price is neither passive, weak, or boring. She is a woman with outstanding moral values and silent strength that is ideally rewarded for her personal sacrifices. Fanny and Edmund live happily ever after, but Mary and Henry receive their just deserts. Mary is forced to give up Edmund and Henry must give up his mistress. It can also be determined that charm, wit, and beauty do not create a hero, it is morality, discipline, and the depth of character that make a true hero.
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