Final Paper Mansfield Park - Shannon Sheeley Dr...

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Shannon Sheeley Dr. Bourbon Lit Trad IV May 13 th 2019 The Importance of Fanny Price Who is Fanny Price? Is she a character who remains the same throughout Mansfield Park or does she grow? One argument suggests that Fanny changes for the worse at the end of Mansfield Park while another believes that she is a boring character that remains “overtly virtuous” throughout the novel (Trilling 212). John Halperin, in The Trouble with Mansfield Park , analyzes Fanny’s character and how it changes throughout the book. He explains that before Fanny was sent back to Portsmouth, Fanny does not focus on material items and is a virtuous character. But when she refuses Mr. Crawford’s proposal and is sent to Portsmouth as punishment she changes, for the worse. On the other side of the argument, in The Opposing Self, Lionel Trilling characterizes Fanny as a boring, unrelatable character whose virtue does not waver. Fanny is a virtuous character but Trilling automatically assumes that someone who is not as energetic as Elizabeth Bennet is immediately boring. But what if there is another way to describe Fanny’s character in relation with Mansfield Park ? What if Mansfield Park is a story about keeping one’s virtue while maturing? Fanny is a virtuous character by being observant, having intelligence and being active. She eventually matures by being active and making decisions based off survival while keeping her virtuous character, making her one of the most interesting characters Jane Austen has written. Before tracking Fanny’s maturity in Mansfield Park, the reader needs to properly identify what she does in order to be a virtuous character. Fanny is observant, intelligent, and eventually active. The first characteristic that Fanny shows is how observant she is. From the text, there is one scene that perfectly describes Fanny’s keen sense of observation. In the first volume, Fanny Sheeley 1
Shannon Sheeley Dr. Bourbon Lit Trad IV May 13 th 2019 The Importance of Fanny Price gazes at the night sky with Edmund. While gazing, she tells Edmund, “When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene” (105). Fanny is observing and appreciating the night sky in this scene. By gazing out at the night sky, rather than dancing by the piano with Mary, Fanny is showing how she is more keened to pay attention to the small things in life. Fanny’s observation is highlighted in this scene by contrasting Edmund’s eventual move from the window to the piano. By having Edmund leave the window and join the others, Jane Austen is showing how Fanny is the only person in Mansfield Park that is observant, making this virtue apart of her unique character. Austen highlights Fanny’s observation again in the play scene by stating, “Fanny was wanted only to prompt and observe them” (157). Fanny,

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