MLA Example Essay from Modern Language Ass. - Baldwin1 SamanthaBaldwin ProfessorGreene English425 15May2016 MansfieldPark MansfieldPark .In ,aform,

MLA Example Essay from Modern Language Ass. - Baldwin1...

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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).
Baldwin 2women. For Fanny, marriage may be a matter of the heart, but for other characters in the novel,marriage—or the desire for marriage—is precipitated by, among other things, vanity, financialconsiderations, boredom, the desire to “disoblige” one’s family (Austen,Mansfield Park5) orsimply to escape from it, and social and parental pressure to form a suitable match. And,although readers are meant to understand that Fanny’s desire for Edmund is based not onfinancial ambition but on her “fond attachment” to him (75), the narrator makes sure that we arealso aware of the poverty that Fanny has escaped by being adopted into her uncle’s household asa child. When Fanny angers her uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, by refusing an offer of marriagefrom the wealthy Henry Crawford, he sends her back to visit her struggling family inPortsmouth. It is plain to the reader, and seemingly to Fanny as well, that she faces a difficult,dreary, and perhaps dangerous life without either an advantageous match or the continuedprotection and support of her uncle, neither of which, at this moment in the plot, she can take forgranted.

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