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|21st sense and sensibilities
Written by KatharineW
(10/23/2010 5:38 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Edward Knight, penned by Bridget D
One of the reasons Mansfield Park and the other novels are still so popular is due to their author's unerring ability to get inside of her characters' heads and present up with a three-dimensional people with very familiar psychological landscapes. Even when Jane Austen's stories are moved into contemporary settings, the actions of their protagonists do not seem "dated" or "old fashioned."
In "Mansfield Park" we are told that Fanny cried shortly after arriving at the gracious mansion belonging to her uncle and aunt. She missed her own home, with all of its privations. She missed her siblings. I would posit that you take a child of any time period in history and remove them from their familiar home at an early age and you will have a bruised psyche.
If children are hard-wired to love their parents (or at least to want to) it seems to me that this aspect of psychology would remain pretty much constant. So, too, would the physical and emotional resilience of children. No doubt lack of 20th (heck, even late 19th) century medical practices would have improved everyone's chances for a longer and happy life. Still, children heal a great deal faster than adults.
So, I agree that after a period of depression, and with the help of Edmund, and no doubt letters from William, Fanny grew accustomed to Mansfield Park and her relatives. What she whispered to her pillow in the small hours of the night we will never know. We will also never know what a young Jane Austen truly thought about her home and family life.
As with brother George, some things are too private or too delicate to commit to paper in letters or journals or to share with another person in conversation. The best stories are those which leave their readers enough room to insert themselves into the plot and environs---sort of "dreaming between the lines" as it were. We are indeed "such stuff as dreams are made on." Look between the lines of a work of fiction and you might see the author's soul peeping out at you.
I did not mean to imply that my interpretation of "Mansfield Park" is in any way definitive. We get to read and re-read; interpret and re-interpret. Great works of literature have the ability to grow as we do. Although, I think that reading stimulates growth in us rather than the other way 'round.
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