...and every of his written literary thought!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Roses and Thorns of Valentine Mansfield Park by Jane Austen



A Review by Roundsquare

Since love is in the air, I am taking you through the most squeezed together romantic fiction from the reigning queen of romance. Written in her adulthood, Austen’s Mansfield Park offers a mature view of romantic love, unlike her earlier works, which were conceived before her own heartbreaking love experiences. That’s why it is empty of all her usual teasing satirical humour. Let’s just say (and so uncharacteristic of her) she doesn’t hide in a polite formula in stating why many a lover fear to fall in love again—once bitten, twice shy! Here we see a different view of Jane Austen: her mature feminism in expressing a philosophical ideology—if love is a verb to some, and a philosophy to others.

Can wealth buy romantic love? Can romantic love survive without money? These are some of the concerns she raises. How far does environment and opportunity form one’s character? Is there an inborn    inclination in us to be good or evil, tenderly romantic or sadly selfish? In a bid to adapt and survive love, what lengths should one be prepared to go? Fanny Price, the protagonist’s life exemplifies such travesties and gives us a glimpse of why love is such a beautiful and ugly thing at the same time. 

Fanny is your common-place poor relation from Portsmouth you take in to live with, in the hopes of ‘making her into a decent woman’ (out of her coarseness). Petit, self-conscious, and introvert, being away from her family and siblings tags her as displaced and becomes homesick. Funny how she longs for Portsmouth when she’s at Mansfield Park—the plot’s apogee takes an abrupt shock when she discovers how abhorring her own family has become when she returns home, and at eighteen she finds out that Mansfield is where she belongs, and shocked again on her return to Mansfield, that the Bertram family, her preferred home, has been mired by miasmas of scandal and disgrace, and she is to be plunged right into its centre. 

The most unusual and perplexing thing is how Fanny is most happy when depression descends on those close to her, while she was utterly dejected when the selfsame people were making merry and having fun with their lives. Perhaps Austen is probing her ‘innate goodness or the godliness of a female character. If ‘motherhood puts humankind’s feet closer to paradise’, then her reluctance to enter into ‘marriage institution’ and ‘manufacture’ babies like her female cousins poses another disturbing question, was Austen against love? Was she against family? Then why does she upset traditional values and stability which she appears to praise. Someone has already said, ‘marriage is a noble institute; but who wants to live in an institution?’ Austen never married for one. Add two and one, and there you are! 

It’s fair to say though that Austen doesn’t give love an all-negative picture, but simply puts what’s obvious—that it has to be natural. Following Fanny’s philosophies as her love finally matures, we get a glimpse of how similar the human race has evolved romantically—technology or no technology—it’s all in the beholder’s eye as Fanny muses, ‘how wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time and the changes of the human mind’. If our views of love, life etc is shaped by the environment, why shouldn’t we then show our innate abilities to love and laugh at life’s romantic experiences, trifle or grandiose?

If you can survive this Valentine week’s mad rush for romance, then be ready to view love from yet another funny angle, that of Lynn Shepherd in her Death at Mansfield Park, a complete topsy-turvy story of Austen’s Mansfield Park. And to keep you in the spirit of February’s love and rub the Austen-philes the wrong way, we’d review her Pride and Prejudice, then have a look too, at its alter-ego, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—all remarkable renditions of Jane’s outstanding work, and for love.
©Roundsquare

1 comment:

  1. It is that time of the year when love in all its forms and types is celebrated. Yes, it

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    other. Building up the hype of Valentine’s Day are the seven days that come before —

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