Mansfield Park

Being Taken In

Being Taken In

How much of a role does deception play in courtship? In marriage? In Volume I of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Henry and Mary Crawford engage in a conversation with their sister, Mrs. Grant, concerning this very question. The conversation occurs soon after the Crawfords arrive at the parsonage to stay with Mrs. Grant, and becomes an early introduction into the characters' beliefs, as well as their opinions of the Bertrams. The passage not only employs dramatic irony, it foreshadows the romantic turmoil that lies ahead and also gives the reader a closer look at the characters' beliefs concerning marriage and courtship.

The passage displays two instances of dramatic irony. The first is Henry's assertion that "Miss Bertram is very much attached to Mr. Rushworth," which is followed by his declaration that he "think[s] too well of Miss Bertram to suppose she would ever give her hand without her heart" (34). Both of these statements reflect his opinion of Maria Bertram's motives, but they also hint that he favors her. His sisters view these statements as evidence that he has been "taken in" or, in other words, deceived (34). As the reader may already know at this point,...

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