Mansfield Park is the third published novel by Jane Austen.
The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, starting when her overburdened family sends her at the age of ten to live in the household of her wealthy aunt and uncle and following her development into early adulthood. From early on critical interpretation has been diverse, differing particularly over the character of the heroine, Austen's views about theatrical performance and the centrality or otherwise of ordination and religion, and on the question of slavery. Some of these problems have been highlighted in the several later adaptations of the story for stage and screen.
Fanny Price, at the age of ten, is sent from her impoverished home in Portsmouth to live with the family at Mansfield Park, the Northamptonshire country estate of Sir Thomas Bertram. Lady Bertram is her aunt. The Bertrams have four children – Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia – who are all older than Fanny. There she is mistreated by all but Edmund. Her other aunt, Mrs Norris, the wife of the clergyman at the Mansfield parsonage, makes herself particularly unpleasant to Fanny.
When Fanny is fifteen, Aunt Norris is widowed and the frequency of her visits to Mansfield Park increases, as does her mistreatment of Fanny. A year later, Sir Thomas leaves to deal with problems on his plantation in Antigua, taking his spendthrift eldest son Tom. Mrs Norris, looking for a husband for Maria, finds Mr Rushworth, who is rich but weak-willed and considered stupid. Maria accepts his proposal for his money.
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