In defence of MP - or are we lightweights?
Posted by kates on December 03, 1997 at 18:08:54:
In response to Tilde's Request, written by Ken on December 02, 1997 at 08:04:37
I can appreciate that Tilde has personal reasons for wishing any disscussion (which, it would seem, would be within a small number of people) to be held off until she has time to join in. But what I struggle to understand is why it should affect such a small number of people. Mansfield Park is at least as good, and as important, an artistic work as any of the other five novels. As such, surely it deserves its own space for permanent discussion.
What I find profoundly depressing - particularly in a republic that proclaims itself to be a haven to those engaged in the understanding of Austen - is an apparant consensus that because Fanny is not as immediately accessible as, say, Lizzie, she is not worth equal consideration. Surely there is more to say about Fanny than about Lizzie. Of course, if I was to have a dinner party I would rather invite the latter because she is more fun. But come to that, I would rather invite Mary Crawford (untrustworthy bitch that she is) because she is more entertaining. Certainly she tells better jokes. But that isn't the point. Are the citizens of the republic really willing to make judgements that take no account of the social, historical etc etc context of the novel?
Fanny displays a moral courage and steadfastness which is unequalled by any of Austen's other heroines. All the heroines are isolated morally and intellectually, but Fanny's isolation is off a greater order. She undergoes significantly more bullying, is much more powerless and much more friendless than any other. And yet she sticks to her guns, and refuses (causing pain to those to whom she owes duty, and more importantly, loves) to countenance marriage to a man whom she alone - apart from the Author - believes to be morally flawed beyond repair.
If we are willing to relegate discussion of MP to an occasional comment we are missing a hugely important part of Austen's work, with threads that affect all the novels. If we are willing to write MP off because neither Fanny nor Edmund are instantly attractive, or interesting as companions then we are lightweight.
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