The Importance of Home and Family in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

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The Importance of Home and Family in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

"They were a remarkably fine family...and all of them well-grown and forward of

their age, which produced as striking a difference between the cousins in

person, as education had given to their address." (Austen, 49) Within the first

few pages of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen implants in the minds of her readers

the idea that contrasting and conflicting environments are the forces that will

decide the heroine's fate. Austen's own home and family influenced her life,

writing, and the creation of the homes in her novels, and in turn, shaped her

heroines.

But Fanny Price is unique among Jane Austen's heroines,
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Upon first arrival at Mansfield, the shy little girl, "longing for the home she

had left," (Austen, 50) is indeed pitiable. But she is soon befriended by her

cousin Edmund, who from the start strikes Fanny as a gentleman "with all the

gentleness of an excellent nature." (Austen, 51) With his guidance and

friendship, Fanny flourishes in the genteel country society, and "learning to

transfer in its favour much of her attachment to her former home, grew up there

not unhappily among her cousins." (Austen, 56) As her uncle later suspects,

Fanny grows so accustomed to the refined company of her cousins that she fails

to fully appreciate Mansfield Park. Fondly remembering the home she had left

behind at the tender age of ten, Fanny is overjoyed to return to Portsmouth for

a visit, even with the knowledge of Sir Thomas' true intentions-to convince her

to marry Henry Crawford. While Fanny entertains no such views, she hopes to

return to and rediscover her true family and home.

The shock she receives at perceiving the differences between Mansfield and

Portsmouth was the first contribution to the downward spiral into which her

health and spirits fell. With her usual thorough
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