I could not wait to be done with this book. It annoyed me! The snobby individuals, the elite society, the social formalities, and all this talk about marriage - blah! In all fairness to Jane Austen, it was a terrible time for me to immerse myself in this story. Please forgive me, Jane, but my mood was intolerable.
Some details implying spoilers . . .
Mansfield Park, which takes place in England (Northamptonshire), 1800s, reminded me of a kind of Cinderella story - a poor, less privileged young girl, Fanny Price, was sent to live with her wealthy uncle and aunt, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. She lived with four cousins, too: Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia, while a stupid, high maintenance aunt, Mrs. Norris, meddled close by. Edmund proved to be a compassionate soul who took Fanny under his wing, and you kind of know where this relationship is going from the very start, even though it twisted and turned for the entire story before finally seeing the light of day. But I digress.
Sir Thomas and his son Tom were removed from the story for a while, as they attended business in the Caribbean, while Fanny blossomed into a beautiful, sharp young lady and life changed drastically at Mansfield Park (the Bertram estate). The enlightened Crawfords rolled into the neighborhood and introduced chaos to the inhabitants of Mansfield. Henry and Mary, brother and sister, brought their progressive ideas to the group and the Bertram siblings were done for. (Of course, it didn't take much to convince Maria or Julia to conform, and cousin Tom - who returned early from the Caribbean - was also caught up, though Edmund was very reluctant; even Mrs. Norris was completely oblivious to the wickedness.) However, only Fanny wisely protested the perversity of their behaviors.
|Edmund tempted to join the frivolities (source)|
When Sir Thomas returned, he put a stop to the frivolities, thank goodness, and he also noticed how much Fanny had changed. When he learned that Henry Crawford was interested in marriage to Fanny, he greatly encouraged it; but Fanny rejected his proposal, for good reason. Sir Thomas was incensed that Fanny - little poor, underprivileged Fanny - was so ungrateful after he, Sir Thomas, generously took her in and raised her up under his roof. She should have known a good thing (Henry Crawford) when she saw it.
Fanny stood firm, and soon a shameful and dreadful scandal rocked the Bertrams and Crawfords; true characters were brazenly exposed. Ouch! (Of course, today, this would hardly cause anyone to blink, but for England, 1800s, it was horrifying.) This scandal changed everything for Fanny and Edmund, which was good, because they finally realized what the reader probably had known all along, which caused the story to close like the perfect happily-ever kind. The End.
It is not a bad story, and there are all kinds of other characters and conflicts to complicate events and relationships; it is also typical Jane Austen composition and style; but I was bored with the plot and failed to read it deeply, which caused me to miss the little themes and ideas.
Nonetheless, I am glad I read another Austen and will continue to read other Austens. I still have to read Emma, Northanger Abbey, and The History of England By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian, and I would like to reread Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility someday. So I have not been discouraged; I just have to be in the right mindset - a Jane Austen mindset.