Mansfield Park

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Overview

At the age of ten, Fanny Price leaves the poverty of her Portsmouth home to be brought up among the family of her wealthy uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, in the chilly grandeur of Mansfield Park. She gradually falls in love with her cousin Edmund, but when the dazzling and sophisticated Crawfords arrive, and amateur theatricals unleash rivalry and sexual jealousy, Fanny has to fight to retain her independence. This new edition places Mansfield Park in its Regency context and ...

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Mansfield Park

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Overview

At the age of ten, Fanny Price leaves the poverty of her Portsmouth home to be brought up among the family of her wealthy uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, in the chilly grandeur of Mansfield Park. She gradually falls in love with her cousin Edmund, but when the dazzling and sophisticated Crawfords arrive, and amateur theatricals unleash rivalry and sexual jealousy, Fanny has to fight to retain her independence. This new edition places Mansfield Park in its Regency context and elucidates the theatrical background that pervades the novel.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Jane Austen paints some witty and perceptive studies of character.
John Wiltshire LaTrobe University
“Unlike Jane Austen's earlier novels, Mansfield Park is embedded within a specific historical moment, and the Introduction to this Broadview edition splendidly brings out the novel's engagement with a range of contemporary controversies, from female education to the slave trade and the proper use of wealth. The appendices, too, offer readers a generous range of material, expertly selected and introduced. They extend our insight into what Sturrock shows is Austen's most discomforting—as well as engrossing—text.”
Deborah Kaplan George Mason University
“An excellent edition. Sturrock's introduction provides a nuanced view of Mansfield Park as well as judicious treatment of the critical debates the novel has prompted in recent years. Her annotations are genuinely helpful, and the appendices thought-provoking. With a sharp eye for the most relevant passages, Sturrock has assembled late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writings on issues such as slavery, female education, and private theatricals. These writings create fascinating vantage points from which to view Austen's novel, and they make clear how profound a response it was to contemporary cultural concerns.”
From the Publisher
"Jane Austen deserves, and here gets, the reward of other people's skillful work on her little bit of ivory, two inches wide.... The Cambridge Edition justifies its claim to the 'the first ever scholarly edition of the works of Jane Austen', and is a fine tribute to her for the twenty-first century."
-Jane Austen Society Newsletter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199535538
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 153,538
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

jane Stabler is editor of the Longman Reader on Byron (1998) and the author of Burke to Byron, Barbauld to Baillie, 1790-1830 (2001) and Byron, Poetics and History (2002).

Biography

In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.

Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

About thiry years ago, Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintances as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half-a-dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward's match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible; Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly. She could hardly have made a more untoward choice. Sir Thomas Bertram had interest which, from principle as well as pride, from a general wish of doing right, and a desire of seeing all that were connectedwith him in situations of respectability, he would have been glad to exert for the advantage of Lady Bertram's sister; but her husband's profession was such as no interest could reach; and before he had time to devise any other method of assisting them, an absolute breach between the sisters had taken place. It was the natural result of the conduct of each party, and such as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces. To save herself from useless remonstrance, Mrs. Price never wrote to her family on the subject till actually married. Lady Bertram, who was a woman of very tranquil feelings, and a temper remarkably easy and indolent, would have contented herself with merely giving up her sister, and thinking no more of the matter; but Mrs. Norris had a spirit of activity, which could not be satisfied till she had written a long and angry letter to Fanny, to point out the folly of her conduct, and threaten her with all its possible ill consequences. Mrs. Price, in her turn, was injured and angry; and an answer, which comprehended each sister in its bitterness, and bestowed such very disrespectful reflections on the pride of Sir Thomas, as Mrs. Norris could not possibly keep to herself, put an end to all intercourse between them for a considerable period.

Their homes were so distant, and the circles in which they moved so distinct, as almost to preclude the means of ever hearing of each other's existence during the eleven following years, or, at least, to make it very wonderful to Sir Thomas, that Mrs. Norris should ever have it in her power to tell them, as she now and then did, in an angry voice, that Fanny had got another child. By the end of eleven years, however, Mrs. Price could no longer afford to cherish pride or resentment, or to lose one connection that might possibly assist her. A large and still increasing family, an husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants, made her eager to regain the friends she had so carelessly sacrificed; and she addressed Lady Bertram in a letter which spoke so much contrition and despondence, such a superfluity of children, and such a want of almost everything else, as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation. She was preparing for her ninth lying-in; and after bewailing the circumstance, and imploring their countenance as sponsors to the expected child, she could not conceal how important she felt they might be to the future maintenance of the eight already in being. Her eldest was a boy of ten years old, a fine spirited fellow who longed to be out in the world; but what could she do? Was there any chance of his being hereafter useful to Sir Thomas in the concerns of his West Indian property? No situation would be beneath him; or what did Sir Thomas think of Woolwich? or how could a boy be sent out to the East?

The letter was not unproductive. It re-established peace and kindness. Sir Thomas sent friendly advice and professions, Lady Bertram dispatched money and baby-linen, and Mrs. Norris wrote the letters.

Such were its immediate effects, and within a twelvemonth a more important advantage to Mrs. Price resulted from it. Mrs. Norris was often observing to the others that she could not get her poor sister and her family out of her head, and that, much as they had all done for her, she seemed to be wanting to do more; and at length she could not but own it to be her wish that poor Mrs. Price should be relieved from the charge and expense of one child entirely out of her great number.

'What if they were among them to undertake the care of her eldest daughter, a girl now nine years old, of an age to require more attention than her poor mother could possibly give? The trouble and expense of it to them would be nothing, compared with the benevolence of the action.' Lady Bertram agreed with her instantly. 'I think we cannot do better,' said she; 'let us send for the child.'

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Table of Contents

General Editor's preface; Acknowledgments; Chronology; Introduction; Note on the text; Mansfield Park; Introductory Note on Lovers' Vows; Lovers' Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald; Corrections and emendations; Appendix. commentary on the text; Abbreviations; Explanatory notes.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Though it was very successful, Jane Austen deemed Pride and Prejudice, her second novel, 'rather too light.' As Carol Shields mentions in her Introduction, Austen hoped to address more serious issues in her next novel, Mansfield Park. Many readers and critics think Mansfield Park is Austen's most serious and most profound novel. How does it differ from Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice? How are her treatments of class, gender, relationships, and most especially, faith, more nuanced and more mature?

2. Describe the social positions of the three Ward sisters Lady Bertram, Mrs. Norris, and Mrs. Price. How did they arrive at such different circumstances and how have their circumstances presumably affected their personalities? How do the sisters treat each other and how much of this is the result of their respective status?

3. As soon as Sir Thomas decides to accept responsibility for one of Mrs. Price's children, Fanny is put into an unusual position. Sir Bertram says, although she is to live with them, 'she is not a Miss Bertram . . . their rank, fortune, rights and expectations will always be different.' Describe the family's feelings for Fanny as the novel develops. How does the treatment of Fanny by Mrs. Norris and the Bertram sisters distinguish her from the rest of the children? How does Fanny feel about the Bertrams and how do her feelings change, especially for Sir Bertram and Edmund? Before her marriage, what changes take place that allow for her acceptance in the family?

4. Fanny Price inspires strong reactions in readers; she is cast by some as a dreary killjoy, and by others as an endearing, admirable heroine. Is this dichotomy Austen'sintention? Discuss the ways in which Fanny embodies both sides of this polarized debate. What is your opinion of her in relation to other well-known female protagonists of the day?

5. Mansfield Park was divided into three volumes, published separately. Why do you think Austen chose this structure, and how does it affect your reading of the book? Think about other writing that employs this structure to inform your response.

6. From the moment the idea is suggested, Edmund is against the staging of a play. Why is the play seen as inappropriate by both Edmund and Fanny? Why, once it is decided upon, does Edmund accept a part in the play, even though he would appear a hypocrite? How much of this license was taken because of the absence of Sir Thomas and how much was simply the influence of Tom? What is the significance of their choice of plays, Lover's Vows?

7. Describe the similarities and differences between the courtship of Edmund and Mary and that of Fanny and Henry. What are the stumbling blocks in these two courtships that cause them to fail? To what extent were the trials of these courtships responsible for Edmund's change of heart toward Fanny?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 429 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(190)

4 Star

(128)

3 Star

(75)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 432 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2002

    Absolutely Outstanding

    Austen's novels really warm my heart. I fall in love with them as soon as i see them and Mansfield Park has totally made think different about life and how people act, which is what her novels are based on. I highly reccomend it.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Austen's most misunderstood novel demystified!

    In a popularity poll of Jane Austen¿s six major novels, Mansfield Park may come close to the bottom, but what a distinction that is in comparison to the rest of classic literature! Even though many find fault with its hero and heroine, its love story 'or more accurately the lack of one', its dark subtext of neglect and oppression, and its moralistic tone, it is still Jane Austen with her beautiful language, witty social observations and intriguing plot lines. Given the overruling benefits, I can still place it in my top ten all-time favorite classic books. Considering the difficulty that some readers have understanding Mansfield Park, the added benefit of good supplemental material is an even more important consideration in purchasing the novel. Recently I evaluated several editions of the novel currently in print which you can view here. For readers seeking a medium level of supplemental material, one solid candidate is the new reissue of Oxford World¿s Classics'2008' which offers a useful combination of topics to expand on the text, place it in context to when it was written, and an insightful introduction by Jane Stabler, a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Dundee, Scotland and Lord Byron scholar. Understanding all the important nuances and inner-meanings in Mansfield Park can be akin to `visiting Pemberley¿, the extensive estate of the wealthy Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen¿s more famous novel Pride and Prejudice. One is intrigued by its renown but hard pressed to take it all in on short acquaintance. The greatest benefit of the Oxford World¿s Classics edition to the reader who seeks clarification is Jan Stabler¿s thirty page introduction which is thoughtfully broken down into six sub categories by theme The Politics of Home, Actors and Audiences, The Drama of Conscience, Stagecraft and Psychology, Possession, Restoration and Rebellion, and Disorder and Dynamism. Written at a level accessible to the novice and veteran alike, I particularly appreciate this type of thematic format when I am seeking an answer or explanation on one subject and do not have the time to wade through the entire essay at that moment. Her concluding lines seemed to sum up my recent feelings on the novel. ¿The brisk restoration of order at Mansfield Park and healing of the breach between parent and child is underwritten by the same doubt that lingers around the last scene of Shakespeare¿s King Lear: `Is this the promis¿d end? 'v. iii 262'. Recreating the urge to defy parental authority while teaching us to sit still, and pitting unruly energy against patient submission to the rule of law, Mansfield Park is an enthralling performance of the competitive forces which governed early nineteenth-century politics, society and art.' For me, Mansfield Park is about Jane Austen teaching this unruly child to sit still and enjoy the performance! With patience, I have come to cherish Fanny Price, the most virtuous and under-rated heroine in classic literature! Re-reading the novel and supplemental material was well worth the extra effort, expanding my appreciation of Austen¿s skills as a story teller and the understanding of the social workings in rural Regency England. I am never disappointed in her delivery of great quips such as ¿But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.¿ The Narrator, Chapter 1 Also included in this edition are four appendixes the first two on Rank and Social Status and Dancing which are included in all six of the Oxford World¿s Classics Jane Austen editions and have been previously reviewed, followed by Lovers¿ Vows 'the theatrical that the young people attempt to produce in the novel', and Austen and the Navy which helps the reader understand Jane Austen¿s connection to the Royal Navy through her brothers James and Francis and its influence on her writing. The extensive Explanatory Notes to the text help place the novel in context fo

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    It's Jane Austen

    What more can be said? Either you like her work or you don't. It doesn't rate in my top 5, but it's still a good piece of literary work.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Boring

    I found the boook too be very long and boring. The language was hard to understand and made it difficult to be interesting. I hardly felt there was romance. I am glad the styles of writing has changed since this book was published. I dont think i will ever read anymore of this author.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Great Book!

    I loved this book. The only thing about it that I didn't like was that I felt Edward always loved Fanny, he was just blind sided by another woman. I hate that Fanny had to know she was second best to him.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2009

    My Dear, Dear Fanny

    Mansfield Park was so good. The story was captivating to where I could see Mansfield Park and it's surrounding landscape. I could even feel each emotion that the characters felt. Jane Austen has yet to disappoint me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    Boring.

    Nothing much happened, just a lot of talking.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Leah

    O ok...thats really cool :) my nook wont post bc of the lag ;( i guess i should quit for the night

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Leah

    O ok cool....i thought she was packing her stuff for boot camp lol....sorry i took so long to reply...i hate this lag

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    Monky bars

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Great Austen - easily overlooked

    easily overlooked Austen novel, but that's the point about the heroine. She is overlooked by everyone, even many readers. But its a sweet, wonderful, clever novel

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    One

    One word.



    AMAZING!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Touching Story

    Manfield Park differs from Jane Austen's other novels, in that the main protagonist Fanny Price is a meek, fragile little creature, who lives at the mercy of her domineering wealthy relatives. The novel still contains the satirical wit characteristic of Austen, though it does not come from the heroine. Throughout the story, the reader's sympathy is often incited by the ill treatment of Fanny by her superiors, her inferiority complex, and her unrequited love for her kindly cousin Edmund Bertram (The reader will please keep in mind that loving one's cousin was perfectly acceptable at that time).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Every Austen Book is a Classic!

    Once again Jane Austen succeeded in producing a good novel filled with observations on human interaction with one another and love during her time. This is a really good classic to read. Normally before reading a book, I first become really acquainted with the plot but I decided to get out of my comfort zone and only read the back of the book
    (which after having finished the book today) it was just the right amount of information that I needed to understand the story of the book. Here in Mansfield Park, Austen depicts the social standards that lie in the pursuit of love and money. As with all of Austen's books the ending is a happy one for the main character!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    Love Austin!

    I LOVE Jane so this was not disappointing! There was a good twist at the end and I love reading about 19th century conventions and society. A great book to curl up on the couch with!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Jane Austen at Best

    I greatly anticipated reading Mansfield Park as it was the only book by Jane Austen which I had yet to read. Also, my interest had been piqued by all of the opinions that Fanny Price was boring, the book was boring, and Edmund was a twit of the highest order. After reading the novel for myself, I can now say that Fanny Price is my favorite character written by Jane Austen, the book was highly entertaining, and Edmund was a sweetheart, albeit a slightly confused sweetheart!

    Whenever I have read Pride and Prejudice-which I have read it many times- I always became angry with Elizabeth Bennet for her somewhat obnoxious way of accusing Mr. Darcy unjustly. I became embarrassed for her lack of composure, always preferring Jane Bennet. I entertained the same sentiments for Cathy in Northanger Abbey. However, in Mansfield Park, I was charmed by Fanny for her ladylike poise under the verbal darts of her Aunt Norris, for her consistency of character. The book was, in most ways, my personal idea of perfection.

    My only question was this: How could she resist Henry Crawford???

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Mansfield Bore

    I have read many Austen books and while they are always a little slow to get going, they have always turned out worth the time, until now. The overall theme of the book is typical for the author, the writing itself is fabulous, but I could care less about every character in the book. Not one of them was appealing on any level, not even the bad guys. I would strongly recommend any other Austen book to a friend and urge anyone away from this one. I know it is the era of the writing but two close cousins (share sisters for mom's) marry in the book is way wrong. Maybe that is why the whole book sucked for me, when the girl falls in love with her cousin at the start, and the entire book is centered on her love for him, it gets old quick. Maybe in a few years I will read again and pretend they are not related at all and see if it improves the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A little slow, but it sure picks up!

    I found the beginning of this book to be extremely slow, but the book did pick up in the end. I liked Fanny alot, but she does need more self-confidence. Edmund is too good to be true. I dragged through this book until it picked up at the end. I was sad to see it end, and I think Austen could have devoted more than 2 pages to Fanny and Edmund's romance at the end because it took so long to happen. But, overall, it's a great read. Don't expect it be a fast read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The best Jane Austen novel you've never heard of

    I bought the Jane Austen collection of novels and this gem was in there. I loved it from begining to end. Don't watch the movie it's horrible. They change Fanny into something she's not. The novel is a must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    Not as exciting as Austen's other books

    I have read all Jane Austens novels, and this was my least favorite. It wssn't bad, but not good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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