Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
One of the most controversial novels written by Austen, Mansfield Park follows the life of the young heroine Fanny Price as she searches for her place in society. Set in early 19th century England, the classic novel depicts the social issues of the time including marriage, social mobility and morality.
The classic centers on the life of the poor young girl Fanny Price, who is the oldest daughter of nine siblings. Her father is a former naval officer and a heavy drinker, while her mother has married beneath her and is undeniably the black sheep in the family when compared to her two sisters, Mrs. Norris and Lady Bertram who lead comfortable lifestyles. As a form of charity, Fanny is taken in to live with her wealthy aunt Lady Bertram and her husband Sir Thomas Bertram at their Mansfield Park estate. At her new home, Fanny is raised and lives beside her four cousins Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia. Although sharing the same home, Fanny is never really considered their social equal. She is often mistreated by her aunt and treated as an inferior by her cousins. The only person who shows her kindness is Edmund Bertram, for whom she gradually develops feelings. However, Fanny is constantly reminded of her social status and grows up shy and humble, but nevertheless remains true to herself. As the years pass by, the Bertram children find themselves in love entanglements with the sophisticated Crawfords, while Fanny keeps her feelings for Edmund well hidden. As the novel reaches its climax, the true nature of morality and its fruits are revealed.
A plot questioning the infinite dilemma of nature versus nurture, Fanny must decide whether she places a higher value on priceless morality or the expectations imposed on her by society. Because of its uniqueness, Mansfield Park has a love-hate relationship with its readers, due to its unconventional protagonist. Although it is known to have sparked many debates among audiences due to its subtle criticism of society and moral integrity, it still remains one of the most profound pieces written by its author.
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