Baldwin 1Samantha BaldwinProfessor GreeneEnglish 42515 May 2016Marriage as a Dubious Goal inMansfield ParkJane Austen’s 1814 novelMansfield Parkbegins and ends with the topic of marriage. Inthis regard it seems to fit into the genre of the courtship novel, a form, popular in the eighteenthcentury, in which the plot is driven by the heroine’s difficulties in attracting an offer from theproper suitor. According to Katherine Sobba Green, the courtship novel “detailed a youngwoman’s entrance into society, the problems arising from that situation, her courtship, andfinally her choice (almost always fortunate) among suitors” (2). Often the heroine and hereventual husband are kept apart initially by misunderstanding, by the hero’s misguided attractionto another, by financial obstacles, or by family objections. The overcoming of these problems,1with the marriage of the newly united couple, forms the happy ending anticipated by readers.Sometimes, as in a Shakespearean comedy, there are multiple marriages happily celebrated; thisis the case, for example, in Austen’s ownPride and Prejudice.Despite the fact thatMansfield Parkends with the marriage of the heroine, Fanny Price,to the man whom she has set her heart on, her cousin Edmund Bertram, the novel expresses astrong degree of ambivalence toward the pursuit and achievement of marriage, especially for1See Green, especially 17, and also Hinnant, for further description and discussion ofthe courtship novel. Green considersMansfield Parka courtship novel, including it in a list ofsuch novels in the period 17401820 (16364).