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Mansfield Park | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Mansfield Park | Quotes


Mrs. Norris had not the least intention of being at any expense whatever in [Fanny's] maintenance. As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent ... she knew quite as well how to save her own [money] as to spend that of her friends.

Narrator, Chapter 1

Mrs. Norris's proposal to foster Fanny at Mansfield Park makes her proud of her generous nature, but she deftly manages the situation: Sir Thomas will bear all the costs, Lady Bertram will stand in Fanny's mother's stead, and Mrs. Norris will take all the credit. This early description of her manipulations clarifies her self-serving character.


An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done.

Henry Crawford, Chapter 5

Henry Crawford rationalizes his flirtatious behavior around Maria Bertram as he assures Mrs. Grant and Mary that of course he prefers Julia to Maria. In fact, Henry has the charm and wit Rushworth, Maria's fiancé, lacks; Maria's behavior foreshadows her later unfaithfulness.


Fanny ... was very happy in observing all that was new, and admiring all that was pretty. She was not often invited to join the conversation of others, nor did she desire it. Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions.

Narrator, Chapter 8

As Fanny travels to Sotherton, the narrator reveals her self-sufficiency. She can be content with the view through the carriage window and her own musings, in contrast to Mary, whose enjoyment comes from interacting with people. These lines hint at Fanny's suitability as a wife for Edmund.


I really believe ... I could be fool enough to undertake any character that was ever written ... I feel as if I could be any thing or every thing, as if I could rant and storm, or sigh, or cut capers in any tragedy or comedy in the English language. Let us be doing something.

Henry Crawford, Chapter 13

Henry Crawford's words express the enthusiasm most of the young people feel about putting on a play—Tom later calls their feeling an "infection." Henry craves novelty, activity, and excitement. His words also suggest the risks of taking on roles requiring extreme or unacceptable behavior.


I mean to be too rich to lament or to feel any thing of the sort. A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. It certainly may secure all the myrtle and turkey part of it.

Mary Crawford, Chapter 22

Mary Crawford scoffs at Mrs. Grant's concern for domestic details such as what is for dinner; these daily cares seem demeaning to her, but wealth, she hopes, will shield her from them. Because Edmund is listening, it is possible she is criticizing his career choice, too, since it will not bring him the "large income" she wants.


It was impossible for her to be insensible of Mr. Crawford's change of manners. She had long seen it. He evidently tried to please her—he was gallant—he was attentive—he was something like what he had been to her cousins: he wanted, she supposed, to cheat her of her tranquility as he had cheated them.

Narrator, Chapter 26

After Mary forces the unwanted gift of the necklace on Fanny, Fanny admits to herself that she is Henry's new love interest. He acts as a lover should—"gallant" and "attentive"—but his goal is dishonorable and cruel, she assumes. She has seen how he crushed Maria's and Julia's feelings.


He was in love, very much in love, and it was a love which, operating on an active, sanguine spirit, of more warmth than delicacy, made her affection appear of greater consequence, because it was withheld, and determined him to have the glory, as well as the felicity, of forcing her to love him.

Narrator, Chapter 33

As he does in most things, Henry goes to the extreme in his infatuation with Fanny. He is not just in love but "very much in love." His feelings run hot; his actions are forceful. The final phrase, however, reveals his love to be a matter of pride; that is, love of self. Fanny is a prize to win, not a woman to cherish.


Oh! that I could transport you for a short time into our circle in town, that you might understand how your power over Henry is thought of there! Oh! the envyings and heart-burnings of dozens and dozens! the wonder, the incredulity that will be felt at hearing what you have done!

Mary Crawford, Chapter 36

Mary Crawford tries to persuade Fanny of her good fortune in being Henry's beloved, but she could hardly go about it in a way more calculated to upset and repel Fanny. Quiet, retiring Fanny is appalled, not gratified, by the thought of young women envying and gossiping about her and by the fact that Henry has attracted so many eligible young women.


William was gone;—and the home he had left her in was—Fanny could not conceal it from herself—in almost every respect, the very reverse of what she could have wished. It was the abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety. Nobody was in their right place, nothing was done as it ought to be.

Narrator, Chapter 39

As the narrator describes the Price household, it is hard to know what bothers Fanny most: the dirt and noise, the incompetence of her parents' management of the family, or the absence of William, who has asked Fanny to set things right while she visits the family in Portsmouth. Fanny realizes the task will be overwhelming.


We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.

Fanny Price, Chapter 42

Henry visits Portsmouth, determined to impress Fanny Price by his civil treatment of the Prices and his attention to matters at his estate. But he fails to consider her self-deprecating manner when he asks her to advise him on managing his estate. This sentence is her reply, which, out of context, sounds almost like an adage, but here, it is something of a rebuke. Henry is not reflective, readers know, but Fanny thinks he should pay more attention to his conscience.


I cannot give her up, Fanny. She is the only woman in the world whom I could ever think of as a wife ... I am convinced, that she is not without a decided preference. I have no jealousy of any individual. It is the influence of the fashionable world altogether that I am jealous of. It is the habits of wealth that I fear.

Edmund Bertram, Chapter 44

Edmund Bertram's wrenching letter to Fanny, after he meets with Mary in London, reveals his love and fears for Mary and causes Fanny not only pain but anger. Edmund is young and in love for the first time; he sees Mary's flaws but blames them on her environment. Even after Mary fails to condemn Maria and Henry, later in the novel Edmund will choose to blame her upbringing and friends, not her.


It is an attachment to govern his whole life. Accepted or refused, his heart is wedded to her for ever ... Oh! write, write. Finish it at once. Let there be an end of this suspense. Fix, commit, condemn yourself.

Fanny Price, Chapter 44

These sentences are among Fanny Price's most passionate in the novel. Rarely does she burst out in anger or frustration, but here she speaks to Edmund, though they are apart, telling him to get the terrible deed over with—to propose to Mary. She assumes Mary will accept, so when she tells Edmund to "condemn" himself, she is accepting the misery that Mary will, in her opinion, bring to their married life.


I don't know what Sir Thomas may think of such matters; he may be too much of the courtier and fine gentleman to like his daughter the less. But by G— if she belonged to me, I'd give her the rope's end as long as I could stand over her. A little flogging for man and woman too, would be the best way of preventing such things.

Mr. Price, Chapter 46

Mr. Price's response to the news of Maria's desertion of her husband is extreme and violent, like the punishment he suggests. He startles Fanny, who knows her father as an unexcitable man. He even blasphemes (though the abbreviation obscures his oath). His reaction makes clear how unthinkably terrible Maria and Henry's running off is in the context of the novel's setting.


To hear the woman whom—no harsher name than folly given!—So voluntarily, so freely, so coolly to canvass it!—No reluctance, no horror, no feminine—shall I say? no modest loathings!—This is what the world does.

Edmund Bertram, Chapter 47

As Edmund Bertram reports to Fanny his final conversation with Mary, the jagged path of his words (interrupted by many dashes and exclamation points) reveals his distraught emotions. Mary's reaction to her brother's shameful actions is so tame, Edmund cannot get the words out to express his shock; yet he still blames "the world" rather than Mary herself.


Even in the midst of his late infatuation, he had acknowledged Fanny's mental superiority. What must be his sense of it now, therefore? She was of course only too good for him. But as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing.

Narrator, Chapter 48

The narrator comments wryly on Edmund's slow falling in love with Fanny, a woman he shaped during her childhood to be what he thinks women should be. He knew all along, the narrator says, that Fanny was a better choice than Mary. Free from blind infatuation, Edmund can approach love "steadily" and seriously, an approach that demure Fanny will appreciate but which seems to lack the fire of his feelings for Mary.

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