Sex in the Park. Mansfield Park. Part One.

May 24, 2007 § Leave a comment

No matter how many times I read Mansfield Park, how excellent and complete the narrative, how much I sympathise with Fanny Price, her plight, her desires, her goodness and her motives and no matter that I know that Fanny finally landing Edmund Bertram is just and ought to be gratifying, I still really want her to marry Henry Crawford. If for nothing else but the chance of a promising sex life which, let’s face it, isn’t very likely with Edmund. But I guess that’s kind of the point. Mansfield is undoubtedly Austen’s most moralistic work. In the other novels, faults of judgment are corrected with a life lesson; Emma’s quest to win back Miss Bates’ trust after mocking her publicly, for example, in Emma or Captain Wentworth’s finding himself insuperably tied to Louisa Musgrove in Persuasion, and faults of character are dealt with by the lack of respect for them engendered in the reader and the assumption of an unpromising future, such as Wickham and Lydia’s early fizzling marriage in Pride and Prejudice or the Thorpe family’s seemingly likely decline into ruin and disgrace in Northanger Abbey. But in Mansfield Park, the narrative goes much further in the punishment of those who act on motives such as greed, vanity and, especially, inappropriate sexual attraction. Oh yeah.

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