Category Archives: Character Review

Mansfield Park Character Review: Maria Bertram

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

For most of human history, a woman’s choice has been marriage, and uh, marriage. If she was lucky, she received a basic education or was taught in the style that was “appropriate” for a lady. This idea was especially persistent among the upper classes. From an early age, girls were prepared for the day when they would no longer be a Miss and become a Mrs. On the surface, this life seems relatively simple. But upon deeper reading, it is easy to see how frustrating these constraints could be.

In Mansfield Park, Maria Bertram is fully aware of what her future holds. The eldest daughter and third child of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, she enjoys the perks of status, wealth, and beauty. Behind closed doors is another story. Both of her parents are emotionally distant from their children. Her father is all about business. Her mother prefers to spend more time with her dog than her offspring. The only adult in the room is her aunt, Mrs. Norris. But Mrs. Norris is not there to pick up the pieces left behind by her sister and brother-in-law. Selfish and self-gratifying, she indulges her sister’s kids in hopes of getting a piece of the pie.

Of all of the young men in the area, Maria’s choice of future husband is Mr. Rushworth. His appeal is his fortune and the escape she will have from an unhappy household. Willing to overlook the fact that he is both stupid and physically unattractive, it is the out she is looking for. Shortly after accepting Mr. Rushworth’s proposal, the brother and sister duo of Mary and Henry Crawford joins the Bertram’s social circle. Both are charming, intelligent, and the life of the party. Knowing full well that her marriage is one of convenience, Maria has no problem flirting with Henry. She also ignores that he is also flirting with her younger sister, Julia.

Expecting a proposal from Henry, she is disappointed that he does not act on their flirtation. This leads her to marry her fiance and take Julia with them on her honeymoon. Upon starting her new life as Mrs. Rushworth in London, Henry comes back and picks up right where they left off. This leads to an affair, a failed elopement, and being excised from polite society due to her status as a divorcee who left her husband for another man.

To sum it up: The choices we make define how we live our lives. Even when those choices are limited, the actions we take have an impact. Maria could have ended her engagement to Mr. Rushworth, which might have opened the door to a respectable life and a happy marriage. But she chose another path, leading to disgrace and humiliation.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Mansfield Park Character Review: Mary Crawford

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

We all want to be liked. The need to be popular does not stop the minute that we leave school. However, that does not preclude us from being a decent human being. In Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford is charming, intelligent, confident, attractive, and welcomed into the Bertram household with open arms. But she is also selfish and unable to see past her own needs.

“My dear Miss Price,” said Miss Crawford, as soon as she was at all within hearing, “I am come to make my own apologies for keeping you waiting; but I have nothing in the world to say for myself — I knew it was very late, and that I was behaving extremely ill; and therefore, if you please, you must forgive me. Selfishness must always be forgiven, you know, because there is no hope of a cure.” (Ch. 7)

Mary enters the inner circle of Bertram family with her brother, Henry, when she moves into the neighborhood with their older sister and brother-in-law. Compared to the Bertram’s niece, Fanny Price, she is not afraid to share her opinion or insert herself into an existing conversation. As all young women at the time were expected to do, Mary knows that she must marry and marry well. The easy option is Tom Bertram, the oldest son and heir to the family estate and fortune. But she is instead drawn to the younger son, Edmund Bertram.

As time wears on, Mary begins to fall for Edmund and he begins to fall for her. It seems like their relationship is going in the right direction, until Edmund tells her that he will earn his living via the Church. Horrified that she may one day be the wife of a preacher man, Mary does her best to convince him to seek out another way of earning a living. She is also unaware that Fanny is in love with her cousin, creating a very interesting love triangle.

While this is happening, a second love triangle develops between Henry, Edmund’s sister Maria, and Maria’s fiance, Mr. Rushworth. She does nothing to discourage her brother from flirting with Maria. After the wedding, the siblings collude to make Fanny fall in love with Henry. But Fanny is not as easily charmed as her newly married cousin. After Fanny turns down his marriage proposal, Mary does her best to convince Fanny to give him a chance. The chance occurs when Fanny is sent home after refusing to change her mind. Henry follows her and it seems that wedding bells are on the horizon. But they never chime.

This sends Henry back into the arms of Maria, a decision that scandalizes both families. Mary’s attempts to smooth over things with the Bertrams does not go over well, leading to a breakup with Edmund. The last time we see Mary Crawford, she is still single and looking for a husband. Edmund, the man she is still looking for, is living in wedded bliss with Fanny.

To sum it up: It’s easy to like Mary Crawford. Her easygoing and intelligent manner would draw out even the shyest of wallflowers. The problem is that she cannot see beyond the edge of her own nose. It doesn’t take much to put someone else first. Though there are quite a few opportunities to put her needs aside, she never does. It becomes her penance to bear, pining for the one who could have been hers, but instead becomes the one that got away.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Mansfield Park Character Review: Henry Crawford

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last week. There is only so much writing I can do in a day.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Charm is a wonderful thing, it can open the door when being honest or dor cannot. However, when it comes to our potential or current significant other, authenticity goes a long way.

In Mansfield Park, Henry Crawford is introduced to the Bertrams when he and his sister Mary move into the neighborhood. On paper, he is everything a gentleman should be. Handsome, charming, wealthy, cultured, educated, etc. But he is also disingenuous and unable to be real when it counts. He immediately catches the eye of both Bertram daughters, Maria and Julia. While Julia is single, Maria is not. Knowing that Maria is engaged, he intentionally flirts with her.

This flirtation continues after Mariah’s wedding. The consummate actor, he feels no shame in leading her on, despite the fact that she is off the market. While this is happening, he decides to turn his attention to Fanny Price, the Bertram’s niece. Unlike her cousin, Fanny believes Henry to be the consummate actor, forever changing based on his surroundings. Though she is grateful that he has helped her brother, William, climb up to the next rung in his career, she is not falling into his arms, ready to accept his marriage proposal.

When that marriage proposal does come, Henry is rejected, an outcome that surprises him. What is even more surprising is that he is genuinely starting to fall in love with Fanny, not knowing that she loves her cousin, Edmund. After Fanny has been sent back to her family home in Portsmith as a punishment for turning him down, Henry follows her, eventually getting the yes that he has been hoping for.

His future with her ends when he returns to Maria, a decision that makes the local gossip rags. They end up running away together, creating a scandal that ruins them both. When we last see Henry Crawford, he has refused to marry Maria, and they part ways, forever tainted.

To sum it up: True change occurs when we want to change. It’s easy to say that we want to be a better person, but unless we put our money where our mouths are, it will never happen. Henry Crawford may appear to be the man who is willing to do what he has to do be with Fanny, but in the end, he chooses not to.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Mansfield Park Character Review: Edmund Bertram

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Idealism is a wonderful thing. It allows us to see the world as we would like it to be. But, as great as it is, it must be tempered with realism. In Mansfield Park, Edmund Bertram is an idealistic young man who must learn to take the rose-colored glasses in order to see the truth.

His initial appearance occurs when he is a young man. His cousin, Fanny Price, has just been taken in by his parents. While the rest of his family mocks and looks down upon Fanny, he is the only one to show her kindness. His initial treatment of her is that of an older sibling. He encourages her to use her natural-born intellect and provides the confidence she needs to stay sane.

As a younger son, Edmund knows that he must find employment. Primogeniture was both the custom and the law of the land. His older brother Thomas, by virtue of being born first, will inherit the whole kit and caboodle. The most common professions for men in his situation are either the military, the law, or the Church. His choice is to become a man of the cloth.

When his father and brother leave England for Antigua, Edmund is the unofficial man of the house. He tries to take his role seriously. But his intentions don’t exactly come to fruition due to the engagement of his sister Maria and the entry of Mary and Henry Crawford into their lives. When Thomas returns home without their father, he decides to put together a family theatrical, much to his brother’s dismay. But Edmund eventually agrees, trying to keep some semblance of propriety. The early arrival of Sir Thomas ends the play before it has the chance to begin.

Edmund begins to fall for the vivacious and outgoing Mary, in spite of her numerous attempts to convince him to choose another line of work. During the ball for Fanny, he drops the idea of proposing to Mary, finally realizing that she will never accept him for who he is. He also does not recognize that Fanny is in love with him.

After Fanny rejects Henry’s marriage proposal, he tries to get her to see reason. On paper, Fanny could do a lot worse in terms of a husband. But she still refuses to change her mind and is sent back to her parent’s house. During this time, Thomas gets dangerously sick and Maria elopes with Henry. Mary attempts to comfort the Betrams by assuming that Tom will die and Edmund will be the heir.

Whatever visions of his future with Mary disappear. They are incompatible and will not live happily ever after. The book ends when he sees that the person he is meant for, Fanny, has been there all along.

To sum it up: Learning to see the truth vs. what we want to see is not easy. It requires knowledge and courage, specifically when the experience may be painful. But Edmund is able to get through all that, marry the woman he loves, and have a satisfying career.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Mansfield Park Character Review: Fanny Price

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting for the last couple of weeks. Life just got in the way.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. In Mansfield Park, the heroine, Fanny Price may appear to be meek and pliable. But underneath that image of submissiveness is a will of iron and adherence to self, even when it goes against the grain.

When we initially meet Fanny, she is a young girl from a large and impoverished family. Taken from the bosom of her home, she travels to her wealthy aunt and uncle’s estate, where she will be raised. Viewed as the poor relation who should be grateful for being taken in, she is looked down upon. The only person who treats her with respect is her older cousin, Edmund.

This view grows as she transitions from childhood to young adulthood. Frequently sick and unable to stand up for herself, she starts to develop an awareness of the world around her and the people with whom she comes into contact. The only literal sane person in the looney bin, she sees through the masks of the outwardly charming brother and sister duo of Henry and Mary Crawford.

Fanny sees that Henry is purposefully flirting with her cousin Maria, who is engaged. She also sees that Edmund is starting to fall for Mary, completely unaware that she herself has feelings for her cousin.

After Mariah’s wedding, Henry turns his attentions toward Fanny. Even though she is aware that he helps her beloved brother William climb up the career ladder, she also knows that he is a very good actor. When Henry makes the inevitable marriage proposal, she turns him down, knowing who he truly is. On paper, he is everything she could and should want in a spouse. But she knows herself enough to know that a future with Henry Crawford would not be a happy one.

Forced to return to her parent’s still overcrowded house to convince her to accept Henry, she quickly realizes that the fantasy of returning home and the reality are two different things. When Henry unexpectedly drops in, Fanny begins to see another side of him. But she is not entirely sure that she is trustworthy.

Her gut instinct proves correct. After being rejected by Fanny, Henry returns to Maria and runs off with her. With the Betrams engulfed in scandal, a traumatized Edmund brings her back into the fold. When the novel ends Fanny is both appreciated and has married the man she loves.

To sum it up: We want to be liked. We want to be part of the crowd. But at what point do we sacrifice ourselves and our beliefs to not feel like we are on the outside looking in? This is Fanny’s journey. Though some may see her as insipid and unlikable, she has enough clarity to see through the bullshit and speak her truth, even when others are unable or unwilling to do the same.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Margaret

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last week. Once again, I was juggling too many writing projects.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie (or any adaptation). There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Love is a wonderful thing, but it can also go wrong.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Margaret is introduced to the audience as Hero‘s lady in waiting. Unlike her proper mistress, Margaret is always down for a good joke, even if it pushes boundaries. She is also known for her honesty, which draws her into the unwitting plan cooked up by Don John. Taking advantage of her feelings for Borachio (Don John’s right-hand man), she is used to convince Claudio and Don Pedro that Hero is cheating on her fiance.

To sum it up: While we laugh with Margaret, we also know that she has been used. Though she has done nothing wrong, she is an unwitting accomplice in nearly ruining Hero’s reputation. Love has not gone her way. But still, she walks away with a smile on her face and the respect of her employer.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

This will be my last Character Review post for Much Ado About Nothing. Come back next week to find out which group of characters I will be reviewing next.

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Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Dogberry

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last week. Life got in the way and I also saw Billy Joel.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Every serious drama needs a comedic break. Without it, the narrative could easily become emotionally heavy.

In Much Ado About Nothing, our comic relief is Dogberry. The local constable, he is responsible for the security of all who live in the area. But that does not mean that he is the most competent person for the job. Instead of leading his men and actively ensuring that all citizens and property are secure, he would rather provide the minimum amount of instructions possible and sleep on the job. Dogberry is also somewhat of a crime germophobe, preferring that his deputies catch the criminals, lest he is defiled by association.

When his men overhear that Don John is planning to use accuse Hero of cheating on her fiance, Claudio, they report what have heard. Knowing that this is his opportunity to impress his employer, Dogberry tries to explain to Leonato what has conspired. But he has both lousy timing and the inability to clearly make his case. Leonato dismisses him and prepares for the wedding that will not happen.

When Don John’s co-conspirators reveal the truth, Hero’s reputation is cleared and the criminals are brought to justice. Dogberry is honored for his work and move on with his life.

To sum it up: Dogberry is the release valve that the audience needs. Though his ability to do his job is reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, he is able to prove his worth by the end of the play. Even if we are laughing at him, knowing that the miscommunication between himself and Leonato turns this romantic comedy into a drama.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Don John

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. No one sees themselves as a villain. In their minds, they are the hero. But that does not mean that others have the same opinion.

In Much Ado About Nothing, the audience is introduced to Don John, the younger and supposedly illegitimate brother of Don Pedro. When the play opens, we are told that John was the perpetrator of some act that did not go over well. Though we are not given the details, the impression is that John has been pardoned and is once more welcomed into his brother’s circle. Taciturn and sullen, he prefers the company of his friends over the rest of the group.

The appearance of reformation is just that. John still holds a grudge against Don Pedro and resents that Claudio has become a surrogate younger brother. He knows that they cannot directly go after his brother, he must use subterfuge to reach his goals. Knowing that Claudio is both in love with Hero and open to persuasion, John and his people try to convince Claudio that his brother wants Hero for himself.

When that plan goes awry, John and his friends change tactics. Knowing that Hero’s ladies maid Margaret has a thing for Borachio, one of John’s lieutenant’s. They use her to convince both Don Pedro and Claudio that Hero is unfaithful to her fiance the night before the nuptials. The wedding, as he hopes, turns into a shit show and he nearly gets away. But when the truth is revealed, Don John is caught and brought to justice.

To sum it up: A good antagonist knows his or her place in the narrative. Their job is to make trouble for the protagonist(s) and add tension to the story. Don John is as close to this description as one can get. He knows how to play the game, and undermine the other characters without them knowing it, at least at first. And, like all villains, his true character is revealed and he gets what is coming to him.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Don Pedro

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. We look to our leaders for support, comfort, and advice, believing that they are almost divine like due to their position. But as much as we may put them on a pedestal, we forget that they are human and as fallible as the rest of us.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro is a nobleman who has just led his men on a victorious military campaign. He has also forgiven his brother, Don John, for an offense whose details are not shared with the audience. Upon entering home of his good friend, Leonato, Don Pedro has a hand in two different romantic couplings. The first is between his second in commend, Benedick, and Leonato’s quick witted niece, Beatrice. The second is match is between his young protégé, Claudio and Leonato’s daughter, Hero.

At the party that Leonato is throwing in honor of his guests, Don Pedro pretends to be Claudio. His aim to confirm the his young friend’s affections are being returned and to ask for Hero’s hand in marriage. What he does not know is that Don John’s perceived turnaround is an act. His brother is going to use Hero and Claudio to take his brother down. The engagement between the young lovers goes down without a hitch, not knowing that there is a plot afoot to tear them apart.

Also at the party, Don Pedro does something is completely modern and almost unheard of during Shakespeare’s time. Instead of trying to force Beatrice into the mold of what a woman in that era should be, he acknowledges that she is more than a sharp tongued harpy. When she turns down his own proposal, he accepts her response with an understanding comes up with the idea of bring her and Benedick together.

His fatal claw comes in not questioning Don John’s motives as to why he and Claudio are being shown that Hero in unfaithful the night before her wedding. Knowing that his brother has not been the most truthful in the past, he still believes what he is being shown. The day of their nuptials, he, along with Claudio, hurl the lies that they believe have killed an innocent young woman. Even when being told of her “passing” Don Pedro still believes the slander. At the end of the play, Don John has been revealed as the villain, Hero comes back to life, and the two couples walk into the sunset. When we last see him, he is being advised by Benedick to “find a wife”.

To sum it up: No one is perfect, as much as we would love to be. There is always something that can knock us down a peg or two. In Don Pedro’s case, that would be the belief that his brother is no longer the man he was. Though he, like Claudio and Leonato, do not apologize for believing the accusations against Hero and publicly shaming her, his image as a benevolent leader is still intact when the curtain falls for the last time.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Leonato

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The only thing any good parent wants for their child is to be happy and satisfied. The curve in the road comes when said parent has archaic ideas about their offspring does not followed the preferred path.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Leonato, a wealthy landowner has one child, Hero. She is his heir and his whole world. He loves her and cares for her as any father should. Leonato has also in his care, his niece Beatrice. Unlike her cousin, Beatrice is not as pliant and more than willing to share her opinions.

When Hero gets engaged to Claudio, it seems that nothing will stand in the way of their happiness. But the wedding day does not go as planned. Accused of cheating on her fiancé at the altar, Hero faints and is assumed to be dead. When she wakes up, Leonato believes what has heard and gives her a verbal tongue lashing that is laced with disappointment and anger. He calms down when he is convinced that the accusations are nothing but lies.

Pretending that his child is dead, Leonato goes to Claudio and tells him that forgiveness will only come if he marries Beatrice. Claudio agrees, not knowing that his beloved is alive. The play ends with Hero “returning” to life and marrying Claudio, to the delight of Leonato and the rest of the characters.

To sum it up: In 2021, some would say that Leonato is has old fashioned ideas about men and women. Though it is obvious that he is a good father, he is part of a patriarchal society in which virginity is an unmarried woman’s most valuable asset. Even the hint of his daughter having sexual intercourse before saying “I do” is going to create all sorts of trouble. Though by the end of the play, all seems to be forgotten, this writer has to question why the men who condemned based Hero did not ask for forgiveness to the person they hurt the most.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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