Monday, August 24, 2009

Mansfield Park

This is my next challenge in the Jane Austen Challenge , my first post is here
This is number one on my list.
Where to start!
This challenge was a comparative of Mansfield Park in book and movie form. I have to say right off, that it took me 2 full months to get through the novel. The copy I have, has tiny print and a 400 page count. Normally, I can zip through a book that size in about a week, but this was just not the case.
I love the 1999/2000 movie version with Francis O'Conner.

And I realize that; that movie adaptation mixes some of Jane Austen's real life with the character of Fanny Price, and makes the Uncle out to be a totally bad character. But it still has something to it that endears it to me.

I found the 2007 version with Billy Pipper to be dull and lifeless. To me, the actress played Fanny Price too scared, too zombie like. I did like that they reframed the Uncle into more a caring character. Though the Aunt Norris in this version I found to be hinting at an affair between herself and the Uncle Bertram.

The first film, brings in the character of a younger sister, which in the book is Susan. But leaves out the brother William.
The second film, brings in William, but leaves out Susan.

In the movie Jane Austen Book Club, when they get to the topic of Mansfield Park, the character Grigg brings up the fact that Fanny and Edmund are first cousins by comparing them to Star Wars characters, and asks if this incest bothered anyone else.
I think that is a good point. When reading this novel, or seeing the movie for the first time, that subplot of Fanny and Edmund falling in love is never looked at fully in that regard. It is hinted at in the beginning of both book and film as a fear of the Uncle's but dismissed. And by the end of the story you are left thinking "but your cousins" when everyone else seems to find it a fitting thing for Fanny and Edmund to marry.

I found this to be such a hard read because I did not find a single character I really liked. They seemed too stiff. The scenes that covered the play near the beginning went on too long taking up many chapters to revile nothing of solid importance.
When chatting in a few Jane Austen book groups, and telling of my dislike for most this story, I found I was not the only one who preferred the movie to the book. It's difficult for me to understand how this novel was so prized when it came out 200 years ago, unless for it's preaching of virtues, and it's shock value at the time of its incest subplot?

I come away from this book feeling sorry for Mr. Rushworth and longing for letters from people. Otherwise, I have to say, Mr. Crawford feels like an unfinished character.


  1. Among Jane Austen's six, Mansfield Park is the one I like the least. Maybe it is because the heroine is too perfect, too good, too patient... not very realistic. Anyhow I don't mind the plot. Between the two filmed versions you mention I too prefer 1999 to 2007, though is is a rather loosely based adaptation.
    Good post. I'm in the challenge too!

  2. I feel the same way. I couldn't even get past the first couple of chapters! I know that marrying your cousin was pretty common in that time, but usually you didn't grow up with them in the same household! So in that way it does have a bit of an incest feel! Probably one of the reasons I didn't like it as much.. great review!