Sunday, October 13, 2019

Mary Crawford: The Satisfying Heroine Essay -- Literary Analysis, Jane

In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen presents her readers with a dilemma: Fanny Price is the heroine of the story, but lacks the qualities Jane Austen usually presents in her protagonists, while Mary Crawford, the antihero, has these qualities. Mary is active, effective, and witty, much like Austen’s heroines Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet. Contrasting this is Fanny, who is timid, complacent, and dull. Austen gives Mary passages of quick, sharp, even occasionally shocking, dialogue, while Fanny often does not speak for pages at a time. When she does, her speeches are typically banal and forgettable. In Mansfield Park, Austen largely rests Fanny’s standing as protagonist on the fact that Fanny adheres to the moral standards of Austen’s era. Mary Crawford makes a more satisfying and appealing heroine but due to her modern-era sensibility and uncertain moral fiber, she cannot fulfill this role. Part of what makes Mary Crawford an appealing candidate as a heroine of the story is her ability to take action. Throughout Mansfield Park, Mary is an energetic participant in the activities of Mansfield Park, such as taking part in many conversations, arguing her own point of view, riding horses, entertaining herself and others with her harp, and acting in Lover’s Vows. Fanny pales in comparison in terms of her level of activity. In regard to riding, Fanny is attended to when she rides, either by a groomsman or her cousins (Mansfield Park, 59). When Edmund decides to procure Fanny a horse, he does so in consideration of her health, not her happiness, as he means to â€Å"procure for Fanny the immediate means of exercise, which he could not bear she should be without† (Mansfield Park, 32). Edmund’s concern is that the horse is good for Fanny’... ...n presents her ambiguously between morally reprehensible and simply blunt and ahead of her time. Mary Crawford is not the heroine of Mansfield Park. Heroines in Jane Austen’s novels end up married to a man they love and this is not Mary’s fate. Mary did have the opportunity to become a heroic figure but did not take it. If Mary had changed her ways, put her feelings for Edmund above her desire for wealth, her character development and change of heart would have made her acceptable to the Regency Era audience. However, she is steadfast in her opinions and makes no concessions. Mary’s stubbornness, disregard for standards of the times, and wittiness makes her unfit as a heroine when the book was published. However, in contemporary times these characteristic appeal to audiences, as one is more likely to relate to Mary’s practical, although controversial, opinions.

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