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The sense of comparison is not necessarily explicit but rather implicit. It seems that Fanny is a mere observant to the way in which Mary comes to life her life and to adjust to the requirements of her education, both in a spiritual manner as well as in a financial one.
The education of the individual at the time consisted of different aspects, but most importantly, it had one aim which was a good marriage. Especially for the women who did not belong to the higher society education and beauty were the only assets they possessed. Mary Crawford had them and exploited them to the fullest. Therefore, education was not conducted out of spiritual need but rather as a tool for the future. This idea is pointed out in one of the remarks made by Mary as she organizes her first high society get together in one of the most expensive places in the city. Thus, the author notes that "that she has got her pennyworth for her penny'" (394). This expression, which Miss Crawford herself acknowledges being a "vulgar phrase,'" makes brutally plain the shamefully commercial nature of the transactions between the Rushworths: he has bought her, and she has bought him, or at least his position, with her body, her "penny": Wimpole Street and its resplendent parties are merely her "pennyworth" (395). "[E]very thing is to be got with money'": Mary speaks of this as "the true London maxim'" (58), and she has inevitably absorbed the values of her culture and her education" (Sturrock, 2006).
The symbol of education was in this sense the ability to conduct worthy social relationships and engage in a very profitable marriage. Most importantly, it is visible the fact that throughout the book the issue of education is deeply connected to the way in which women allured me. More precisely, "Lady Bertram, giving Maria's cousin Fanny the one "rule of conduct" she will ever receive from her aunt, is quite clear on the morality of marriage: "[Y]ou must be aware, Fanny, that it is every young woman's duty to accept such a very unexceptionable offer as this'." Marry for money. Mary Crawford, though she is quite clearly to a huge degree Lady Bertram's intellectual superior, significantly echoes her words: "It is every body's duty to do as well for themselves [in marriage] as they can'" (289), she says: "everybody should marry as soon as they can do it to advantage" (Sturrock, 2006).
In strong connection with this aspect is the actual ending of the novel. It must be pointed out from the very beginning that the novel appears more realistic than the rest of the novels presented by Austen largely due to the fact that its narrative is complex and is not completely focused on the main character and her constant search for happiness. Therefore, it is only at the end of the novel that her actual state of mind and her happiness are discussed more detailed.
The difference between this novel and other Jane Austen novels is precisely the plot which unlike the rest of the books does not treat the quest for true love as the main idea. More precisely, the main idea is the discussion of the society and its criticism. The characters are mere tools for the literary exercise. each of them depicts a certain part of the society and they are endowed with the possibility of representing their traits in a satisfying manner as to perfectly show the shortcomings of the environment. Fanny is just another character which is however more complex. Still, she is the mirror image of an idealistic spectrum which is in search of a pure and considerate source of affection. Nonetheless, the fact that her eventual success in marriage and love are only deal with scarcely and not developed throughout several chapters point out the fact that this was not the main idea of the book.
The final paragraphs of the book deal with the turn of event between Mr. Bertram and Fanny in a very concise manner. Thus, the author points out that "I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that every one may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire" (Austen, 1892, 437). Therefore, it is clear that the novel was not necessarily about the finding of happiness by all means, as assumed in the other novels, but rather by achieving marriage. While for Fanny, the idealistic character of the novel happiness consisted in marrying Edmund, for him happiness represented throughout the novel the presence of Mary. Nonetheless, the novel ends in a succinct manner and in on a happy note.
Overall, it can be stated that the Mansfield Park is indeed an important piece of literature belonging to Jane Austen. It represents a change in perspective and dimension concerning the subject in which religion, moral, education, and marriage play a crucial role.
Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Walter Scott: London, 1892.
Austen.com. Mansfield Park. N.d. 31 July 2008. http://www.austen.com/mans/
Sturrock, June. Money, Morals, and Mansfield Park: The West Indies Revisited. Persuasions: The Jane Austen, vol. 28, 2006.
Waldron, Mary. Jane Austen and the Fiction of Her Time. (review) 1999. 31…[continue]
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