Tag Archives: Mansfield Park

The seams of Nasty-Aunt Norris and Optimistic-Jane Bennet

English: Henry Austen (1771-1850), brother of ...

English: Henry Austen (1771-1850), brother of Jane Austen ? However, see David Cecil : A Portrait of Jane Austen, where it shows as James, not Henry Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What  is remarkable about the Austen family is that they could maintain such good relationships throughout their life despite the disparity in income and lifestyle, achievements and abilities. The naval officers, Charles and Frank were often away for years at a time. Keeping in touch must have been a priority. There is also Henry’s bankruptcy which must have caused friction as various brothers lost money. And if this wasn’t enough, James and Henry were rivals for their cousin, the sophisticated Eliza! It might just be that Jane Austen changed the genders with her love trysts in Mansfield Park and Persuasion. She must have seen first hand the emotionally charged atmosphere Continue reading

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What do Fanny and Julia have in common?

Once upon a time in a little land called Australia, ok it was a big land but a small population, there was a female politician called Julia. She had been born from immigrants who had seen education as the key to advancement and this she did. She advanced in spades until one day she entered Parliament. She worked hard, got on well with others and negotiated through such hostile environments that she was accepted and became very important – so important that she played second fiddle to the very important white males who were the leaders. And then one day, when things weren’t going so well amongst the important white males she thought she may as well be the leader. Naturally, as happens in quaint little democracies, there were loud howls of protest. But she put her head down, did what lots of women do, cleaned up the mess, and got on with business. Continue reading

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Nasty-Aunt Norris

English: Illustration for ch.18 of Mansfield P...

English: Illustration for ch.18 of Mansfield Park, in the Series of English Idylls, published by J.M Dent & Co. (London) and E.P. Dutton & Co. (New York) : She worked very diligently under her aunt’s directions. Français : Illustration pour le ch. 18 de Mansfield Park, de Jane Austen. Fanny travaillait avec beaucoup d’application sous la direction de sa tante Norris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most masterfully crafted miser in the Austen universe is of course Nasty-Aunt Norris from Mansfield Park. Not only does she love to save her own money but she is happy to spend that of others. And such miserly attributes were also accompanied with a capacity for bossiness that made her see herself as the director of most things. “Her love of money was equal to her love of directing”. Mrs Norris didn’t start out this way, but once she had married on a lower income than she had been used to, she had to economise and once having “begun as a matter of prudence, soon grew into a matter of choice”. I shudder when I read of Mrs Norris as I know too well the satisfaction of having spent less than anticipated and the addictive qualities of wanting every purchase to be a bargain.

Nasty-Aunt Norris likes to involve herself in everything. It is her idea that the little Fanny Price should come and live with her rich relatives. And she was to congratulate herself for her benevolence at no cost to herself. Continue reading

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Did Jane Austen condone unequal marriage arrangements?

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

In the Austen Six, Jane Austen parodies mercilessly some pretty appalling marriages; like the comic characters, there are the comic couplings. In poking fun at those in ridiculous relationships she is also sending up the mores of the time that made being married prestigious and spinsterhood piteous.  As a single woman she must have enjoyed exposing the holes in the trappings of married respectability. Continue reading

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Fanny Price’s Resilience

English: Fanny cut the roses, detail from File...

English: Fanny cut the roses, detail from File:Mp-Brock-06.jpg Français : Fanny en train de cueillir des roses, détail de l’illustration pour le chapitre 7 de Mansfield Park, de Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the previous few decades, developing self esteem has been a guiding principle in child rearing. Only now are we realising that the downside to this ostensibly admirable philosophy is that we are not equipping our children with the tools to cope with adversity. This is where the term resilience, the need to accept life’s difficulties and then to adapt and change, has come into our lexicon. Fortunately many psychologists are now giving us insights into these old philosophies but it is illuminating that Jane Austen knew the value of resilience and her heroines and heroes actively practise its principles. Continue reading

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