The Search for a Home in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park Essay

The Search for a Home in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park Essay

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       Jane Austen's Mansfield Park is a novel obsessed with home and family.  It

begins a story of one family, three sisters, and quickly expands to a story of

three families, the Bertrams, the Prices, and the Norrises.  Family upon family

is added, each one growing, expanding, and moving until the novel is crowded

with characters and estates.  An obsession with movement creates an overall

feeling of displacement and confusion.  Fanny Price is moved from Portsmouth to

Mansfield and then back to Portsmouth and back to Mansfield. She occupies

several houses, Mansfield, Thornton Lacey, the parsonage, and almost Mrs.

Norris' house.  Julia and Maria Bertram, the Crawfords, the Grants, Susan Price,

even Mrs. Norris experience a move.  The only constant is Mansfield Park itself

with its immovable Lady Bertram and pug.  More positively, Mansfield becomes a

visual representation of family.  The novel's title, more an abstraction than a

reference to place, attempts to define "home," an idea in the novel not

contained by place. 


            In Mansfield Park, what defines home becomes the essential question

for Fanny Price.  The estate as a reflection of self is a prominent theme in the

novel.  Henry Crawford's suggestions for improving Thornton Lacey would raise it

"above a mere Parsonage House" by "giv[ing] it a higher character[.]. . . From

being the mere gentleman's residence, it becomes . . . the residence of a man of

education, taste, modern manners, good connections" (219-20).  Crawford's

improvements would give the house "such an air as to make its owner be set down

as the great land-holder of the pari...

... middle of paper ...

very much at home in Mansfield Park.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane.  Mansfield Park.  New York: Oxford UP, 1990.

Edmundson, Melissa.  "A Space for Fanny: The Significance of Her Rooms in

Mansfield Park."  Persuasions On-line 23.1 (2002): 5 pp. 21 April 2003>.

Edwards Jr., Thomas R.  "The Difficult Beauty of Mansfield Park."  Critics on

Jane Austen.  Ed. Judith O'Neill.  Readings in Literary Criticism 5.  Coral

Gables, FL: U of Miami P, 1970.  90-96.

Moler, Kenneth L.  "Miss Price All Alone: Metaphors of Distance in Mansfield

Park."  Studies in the Novel 17 (1985): 189-93.

Smith, Leroy W.  "Mansfield Park: The Revolt of the 'Feminine' Woman."  Jane

Austen in a Social Context.  Ed. David Monaghan.  Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble,

1981.  143-58.


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