Mansfield Park

Individuating Female Marital Constraints College

The eighteenth-century novel seemed often to be the place in which people would attempt reform society. The novel gave writers a medium through which they could provide both entertainment and a place in which they could attempt to reform people’s views. Although often times these writers were only slightly allowed to delve into something outside of the status quo of the time, they were often even more successful because of this penchant to stay within boundaries. In other words, because these authors weren’t too radical in their writings, the readers were therefore abler to swallow these ideas. Austen uses this technique in Mansfield Park to show the readers some of the wrongs of the marriage institution, as well as the way in which women were constrained in the society at the time. In order to do this, Austen uses a technique which Armstrong, in Desire and Domesticity, defines as individuating a collective body—making a societal wrong shown through an individual case in order to reform it. By using this technique of individuating women’s constraints in marriage, we are able to first sympathize with Fanny, and then with the female society as a whole by seeing the emotional impact on the individual.

Fanny, throughout the novel,...

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