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Max BurchellMr. GealyAP Lit/CompApril 28, 2013Independent Author Project: Mansfield ParkSummary & ResponseJane Austen’s Mansfield Parkis a classic novel of romance, morality, and aristocracy. The story centers around Fanny Price, a young girl living living in relative poverty. Her mother is the sister of Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris. Lady Bertram lives with her wealthy husband Sir Thomas Bertram at their estate, Mansfield Park, while Mrs. Norris lives with her husband in the Mansfield parsonage. Fanny has four cousins by way of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram: Tom, the eldest son who lives a rather debaucherous lifestyle; Edmund, the most ethically sound of theBertrams; Maria, the older daughter; and Julia, the youngest. In the beginning of the novel, Fanny is sent to live with Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram at Mansfield Park due to her mother’s inability to properly support their rapidly growing family. While at Mansfield Park, Fanny is constantly belittled and reminded of her lower social class by her aunts as well as Maria and Julia. She quickly finds a friend in her cousin Edmund, who seems to be the only person there who truly cares for her and understands her. About five years after Fanny’s introduction to the Bertrams Mr. Norris dies, leaving Mrs. Norris alone and more dependent on the Bertrams, Fanny included. Mrs. Norris treats Fanny the worst out of everyone, going so far as to even ban her from having a fire in her room. Following Mr. Norris’s death, Dr. Grant and his wife move into the parsonage. A year or so afterwards, Sir Thomas goes to take care of problems at his plantation in Antigua. He takes Tom with him,
thinking that it will help to get Tom away from his partying for a while. Shortly after Sir Thomas’s departure, two more characters enter the lives of those at Mansfield Park: Henry and Mary Crawford. The Crawfords are siblings of Dr. Grant’s wife. Mary is described as exceptionally attractive, and although Henry is said to be “not handsome”, he has a very attractive manner about him (33). Mary initially plans to seek the courtship of Tom, who had recently returned without Sir Thomas from Antigua, while Henry intends to woo Julia, as the oldest daughter, Maria, has been previously engaged to Mr. Rushworth, a wealthy yet dull man. However, Mary soon finds Tom to be rather boring, and Henry ends up flirting with Maria more than with Julia. While touring Mr. Rushworth’s estate and gardens, Mary becomes interested in Edmund, but does not like the fact that he intends to be a clergyman and somewhat inadvertently insults him for it (69). This whole time, Fanny is developing a deep love for Edmund, but doesn’t quite realize it, and won’t admit it to herself. Some time later, Tom and his friend, Mr. Yates, decide that it would be a good idea to put on a play in Mansfield Park since Sir Thomas did not intend to return until November, which would give them plenty of time (95). Fanny and Edmund, however, argue that it would not be a