Mansfield Mondays: Chapters 1-4

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Three sisters marry very different men.  One marries very well, one settles for for a comfortable, yet not entirely pleasing, marriage and the last “disobliges” her family completely by marrying for love. Thankfully for us we don’t have to be overly concerned about bringing the wrath of our family by marrying an untitled gentleman, or worse, someone we LOVE. In Mansfield Park this trifecta sets up an intriguing turn of events that will on unfold on the estate of that name.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the families:

Sir Thomas Bertram and Lady Bertram are well off, and their four children (Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia) are raised according to their high class.

Rev. and Mrs. Norris have no children and live at a comfortable income, though Mrs. Norris never fails to highlight how economical she is, while still being very generous (with other people’s money).

Mr. and Mrs. Price have a boat load of kids, not much money but (we must assume) a whole lot of love. Fanny and William are the children we see the most of.

The story:

Dear Fanny Price is sent for by her “generous” family members at Mansfield. She’s 10 when she must leave her family and be shoved into a lifestyle very different from the one she’s used to, while still being maintained at a lower level of living than her cousins.

First of all, it’s completely shit that Mrs. Norris uses Fanny as a pawn to make herself look good. She really doesn’t understand the gravity of moving a child from their home. Don’t get me wrong, it’s generous, but Mrs. Norris isn’t suggesting it out of genuine generosity because deep down she knows that she will wiggle herself out of actually caring for the girl.

Secondly it’s crap that she must be reminded of her lower status. The girl is already going to feel as if she doesn’t belong and then you exclude her from becoming as educated or enriched as the cousins she must grow up with? Great, this will totally end well.

Thirdly, the fact that Edmund is the only person to take the time to see why she’s upset is infuriating. Of course she’s going to fall in love with him! He’s the only person who didn’t judge her for being sad.

Fourth, when everyone meets Fanny she has just survived the carriage ride from hell. Being alone with Mrs. Norris for what must have been hours would have been enough to leave me sobbing on the Persian carpets too.

Fifth, we don’t get much dialogue from Fanny. What will this say about her as the heroine?

Betram vs. Price

I feel like the contrast between the Bertrams and the Prices is important. Fanny and William are emotional and attached, not only to their family as a whole, but to each other. The Bertrams don’t really seem invested in each other. When William leaves for the military Fanny is visibly upset. When the two patriarchs of the Bertram family leave for Antigua no one seems upset. Mrs. Norris feigns being upset so she can be the first person to say “I-told-you-so” if they end up being shipwrecked.

Fav Quotes

“My own trouble, you know, I never regard.” Mrs Norris [she’s lying so hard]

“To the education of her daughters, Lady Bertram paid not the smallest attention. She had not time for such cares. She was a woman who spent her days in sitting nicely dressed on a sofa, doing some long piece of needlework, or little use and no beauty, thinking more of her pug than her children….” [I would love this life. Can I have this? Without the children, and with many more pugs.]

“What am I fit for but solitude!” [Mrs Norris may be a bitch but this speaks to me]

“Oh! Yes, I am not at all ashamed of it. I would have every body marry if they can do it properly; I do not like to have people throw themselves away; but every body should marry as soon as they can do it to advantage.” [Miss Mary Crawford on marriage]

Questions:

We see very little of Tom Bertram. What we know of him is limited to what others say about him and the fact that he is running through the family money so quickly he’s screwed Edmund over. Why do you think we get so little time with Tom?

Do you think the conflict between Price and her sisters has an effect on that way Fanny is treated?

What do you make of the Crawfords? Before they even meet the Mansfield group they get a very strong introduction.

How do you feel about the set up of Maria, Julia and Fanny as a parallel to Lady Bertram, Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Price?

Edmund is the only one to openly think that Mr. Rushworth is stupid if you take away his sizable income. Do you think money is still used to make up for shitty personalities? Would you be down to date someone with the personality of a teaspoon and the income of a Trump?

Next week: Chapters 5-10

-Admin B is a journalist, filmmaker and nerd.

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