Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Mansfield Park

Well, in just over a week I finished Mansfield Park. It was very good with a large list of characters and quite a complex plot. Only mild fatigue from reading 200 pages in two days is slowing me from beginning Sense and Sensibility, which shall be my next Jane Austen read.

It is commonly regarded that Jane Austen's books are one of romance, generally with a happy ending and usually with something to say regarding marriage and courtship and virtue. I cannot deny this. But I have come to observe that no less a primary subject for Austen is courtship and marriage than is proper parenting. In each of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Mansfield Park there is one or several parents (and even some aunts and uncles) which Austen critcizes severely in their ineptness and disinterestedness in proper parenting or guardianship and the great responsibility they have in rearing children not only in education and manners but also in discernment, temper, disposition, humility and virtue. One could argue that, not separating parenthood from marriage, Austen is simply continuing her discource on the subject of matrimony rather through the superiors of her protagonists and their relations rather than through the protagonists and their relations themselves.

I must, at this time, still hold Pride and Prejudice as my favorite although further recflection and time may change that but I will only consider it upon rereading Pride and Prejudice. This I hope to do after reading Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Sandition and her other short stories, and then Pride and Prejudice again. It seems a lot, but since midDecember I have already completed three of her novels totalling over 1250 pages of reading which, with a one year old, is no small matter.

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