Mansfield Park

Introduction

Mansfield Park is the third published novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1814. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, starting when her overburdened, impoverished family sends her at age ten to live in the household of her wealthy aunt and uncle; it concludes with her marriage.

The novel was first published by Thomas Egerton. A second edition was published in 1816 by John Murray, still within Austen's lifetime. The novel did not receive any critical attention when it was initially published. The first particular notice was in 1821 in a positive review of each of the published novels by Jane Austen.

From the late 20th century onward, critical reception has been diverse and Mansfield Park is now considered Austen's most controversial novel. Questions addressed in the critical reviews below include the following. Is the heroine Fanny Price appalling or appealing? Was Austen a traditionalist or a feminist? Is Mansfield Park simplistic or ironic? Did Austen support or oppose the slave trade? Does Mansfield Park portray city immorality as more attractive than country morality? How did Austen understand the church of her day? Was Austen for or against theatrical performance?

Paula Byrne, writing in the 21st century, found this to be one of Austen's best novels, and called it pioneering for being about meritocracy.[1]

Two notable film versions of the novel were released: Frances O'Connor starring in the lead role in the 1999 version co-starring Jonny Lee Miller and followed by Billie Piper starring in the 2007 version for ITV1 co-starring Blake Ritson.


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