Mansfield Park

How did their marriage decision affect their lives

Mansfield park chapter 1

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The opening chapter, in which the three Ward sisters of Huntingdon marry men in different social categories (high, middle and low), fixes social mobility as Mansfield Park's primary theme. This is hardly surprising, since Jane Austen utilizes this theme in many of her novels. Lady Bertram's marriage to Sir Thomas illustrates that it is possible for a young woman to climb up the social ladder. Mrs. Norris, the second sister, marries slightly above her station and lives comfortably in the Mansfield Park parsonage. In contrast, Mrs. Price's marriage to a lowly sailor serves as a warning to young women about making rash decisions regarding marriage. Lady Bertram sleeps most of the day, and lets others raise her children. Mrs. Norris is a nagging, miserly witch, while Mrs. Price winds up with an unemployed, drunken husband, and is finally forced to reach out for help during her ninth pregnancy. Although it appears that Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris want to help their sister by bringing Fanny to Mansfield Park, they are very careful to ensure that Fanny does not have the privileges accorded to the Bertram children. It seems that, having made the social leap themselves, they will go to great lengths to keep the British class system in place. In their eyes, Fanny isn't good enough to climb the social ladder.