Tag Archives: Mary Crawford

Mansfield Park Character Review: Thomas 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.

In a world in which primogeniture is king, being the eldest son is not what it seems to be. The upside is the potential inheritance of the estate, the title, the family fortune, etc. The downside is the pressure that comes with this status. In Mansfield Park, Thomas Bertram is the eldest son and heir of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. With three younger siblings, he has certain responsibilities that his younger brother and sisters do not have. That does mean, however, that he is doing what he is supposed to be doing.

Instead of being the son his parents want him to be, Thomas initially prefers to drink, waste money, and schmooze with his friends. His inability to understand how his actions affect everyone around him would push anyone to the breaking point. He gets so far into debt that Sir Thomas is forced to sell the living or the benefice, putting his younger brother Edmund‘s future in doubt.

Taken by his father on a year-long business trip to Antigua, the hope is that this time away will set Thomas on the right path. Though it appears that he has changed, it is just that. His real transformation is represented by both a literal and figurative fall. Left at death’s door by his friends, Thomas returns home in a vegetative state. While he lies in a coma, Mary Crawford is already planning for her future as Lady Bertram with Edmund as the heir. It is a statement that does not go over well.

Like Marianne Dashwood, he only learns his lesson after hitting rock bottom. We are told by Austen that he is no longer the drunken wastrel that he was. He is the son that his parents need him to be.

To sum it up: Sometimes, the only way to understand where we have gone wrong is to go to depths that we never expected to go. Though the climb back up can be painful in multiple ways, it is the only way to understand where we went wrong. It is not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But it is necessary if we want to grow beyond our past mistakes.

Which is why Thomas Bertram is a memorable character.

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Mansfield Park Character Review: Julia 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.

It’s tough to be the younger sibling. There are often comparisons to the older brother or sister, forcing that person to fight for the attention and energy of their parents and other adults. In Mansfield Park, Julia Bertram is the youngest of the four Bertram children. Forever in the shadow of her elder sister, Maria, she is fighting for the spotlight. This feeling becomes even more complicated with the entrance of Mary and Henry Crawford.

Henry captures the curiosity of the sisters and flirts with both women, even though Maria is engaged. Julia does everything she can to become the sole benefactor of his time, but she is unable to convince him to see her as she would wish him to. This loss becomes even more apparent when her role in the family theatrical is downgraded when compared to the roles that her sister and Mary play.

Heartbroken when Henry leaves without proposing, she joins Maria and her new husband, Mr. Rushworth, on their honeymoon. Unlike her sister, Julia spends less time dwelling on what might have happened with him. When Maria runs away with Henry, the scandal leaves no one in the Bertram family and social circle untouched. Without an emotionally safe home to return to, she does what many women did back then. She marries the first man who pays attention to her, Tom Yates. When we last see her, she is a newlywed, running away from an unhappy home life and her potential fate as a spinster.

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To sum it up: Fighting for the limelight in a large family is never easy. Julia Bertram is an example of someone who does everything they can to be seen, but ultimately fails to. Which leads her down a path of a possibly unhappy future, due to the feeling of being ignored in favor of her sister and brothers.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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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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Bridget Jones Diary: Book And Movie Review

Helen Fielding’s heroine in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones is an every woman. Bridget is on the wrong side of 30, single, smokes and drinks too much, flirts with her boss and is far from modelesque.

Published in 1996 and made into a movie in 2001, Bridget makes the rest of us feel better about our lives.

I’ve seen the movie several times over the past 13 years. I just finished the book.

I enjoyed the book, but as often happens when books are made into movies, changes are made to either characters or plot.  Pulling from Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, Fielding has written a very funny and realistic picture of what it is to be a modern single female adult.

The movie is extremely funny. Surprisingly, Renee Zellweger, an American actress,  fits in brilliantly with the English cast.  Whomever the casting director was for this movie, they must have had the Janeite community in mind. Colin Firth (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice 1995), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility 1995), Gemma Jones (Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility 1995), and Embeth Davidtz (Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park 1999) were all perfectly cast.

While I recommend the book, the movie is that much better.

P.S.  I’m adding the fight scene, well,  just because Darcy never had the chance to properly clock Wickham in the face in Pride and Prejudice doesn’t mean he can’t do it in Bridget Jones Diary.

 

 

 

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Mansfield Park 2007 Vs. Mansfield Park 1999

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Mansfield Park and it’s heroine, Fanny Price has been debated time again since it’s initial publishing 2o0 years ago. It is also universally acknowledged that any film adaptation of this novel will bring about the same heated debate.

I have not seen the 1983 Mansfield Park, but from what I have heard, it is the best adaptation. But I have seen both the 1999 and 2007 adaptions and I hope to give each a fair shake, to determine which is the better adaptation.

1999 Movie

Cast: Frances O’Connor (Fanny), Johnny Lee Miller (Edmund), Sir Harold Pinter (Sir Thomas), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Crawford) and Alessandro Nivolo (Henry Crawford).

  • Pros: Director and screenwriter Patricia Rozema weaves throughout the film Fanny’s strength and innate sense of self, especially in the face of overwhelming odds against her. Rozema also inserts Austen’s experiences and early writings, revealing interesting facets of Fanny’s character.
  • Cons: The actors who were supposed to be playing the young people in the film were 30 ish and above. William, Fanny’s adored big brother, and The Crawford’s sister and brother in law are nowhere to be found.

2007 TV Movie

Cast: Billie Piper (Fanny), Blake Ritson (Edmund), Douglas Hodge (Sir Thomas), Hayley Atwell (Mary Crawford) and Joseph Beattie (Henry Crawford).

  • Pros: The actors playing the young people are all age appropriate, each approximately 25 ish, closer in age to their characters than their counterparts in the 1999 movie.  William is included in this adaption.
  • Cons: Billie Piper. She is a very good actress, but not suited for this part. Fanny in this adaptation is too much of a tomboy. The fact that the hair and makeup people did not take a few minutes to make sure that her hair color and eyebrows matched just boggles my mind. Nor did the costume department make sure that she had the appropriate bonnet and gloves while outside. What female in Regency England had naturally brown eyebrows and blonde hair? Fanny maybe the impoverished niece reliant on her uncle’s support, but even she would know what to wear when going outside. And once again the Crawford sister and brother in law are nowhere to be found.

In conclusion, the winner is….. the 1999 movie.

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

*-Delineates text from the original novel. Courtesy of Austen.com

This year, Janeites around the world will celebrate and debate the novel that is Mansfield Park, as they have done for 2 centuries.

Austen begins the novel with the introduction of the Ward sisters.

*-About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income. All Huntingdon exclaimed on the greatness of the match, and her uncle, the lawyer, himself, allowed her to be at least three thousand pounds short of any equitable claim to it. She had two sisters to be benefited by her elevation; and such of their acquaintance as thought Miss Ward and Miss Frances quite as handsome as Miss Maria, did not scruple to predict their marrying with almost equal advantage. But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them. Miss Ward, at the end of half a dozen years, found herself obliged to be attached to the Rev. Mr. Norris, a friend of her brother-in-law, with scarcely any private fortune, and Miss Frances fared yet worse. Miss Ward’s match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible, Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in the living of Mansfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year. But Miss Frances married, in the common phrase, to disoblige her family, and by fixing on a Lieutenant of Marines, without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly. 

The novel’s heroine, Fanny Price is the eldest daughter of the youngest Miss Ward. At the age of 10, she is taken from her family home to Mansfield Park, where she is raised. She is family, but not a daughter of the house and treated as such. Eight years later,  Henry and Mary Crawford walk into Mansfield Park and catch the eyes of Fanny’s cousins.

I won’t give the rest of the novel away if you haven’t read it.

Mansfield Park is her longest novel, the theme is not as clear cut as her other novels. It could be about slavery, it could be about following your own heart vs. society’s rules, it could be about appearances vs. reality. Fanny is not witty like Elizabeth Bennet, confident like Emma Woodhouse or sensible like Elinor Dashwood. She is meek, almost  a hypochondriac. She could be labelled by some as priggish. She is financially, the poorest of the Austen heroines and dependent on her aunt and uncle.

I wrote a while back about Fanny and how her good qualities are often overlooked. This year’s JASNA AGM is about Mansfield Park.  I expect that it will be a very interesting AGM.

Happy Birthday, Mansfield Park

 

 

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