Mansfield Park is the longest and most measured of Jane Austen's novels, giving us her largest cast of characters and her most dramatic narrative. At its center is Fanny Price—the classic "poor cousin," brought as a child to Mansfield Park by the rich Sir Thomas Bertram and his wife as an act of charity—who, as she matures, comes to demonstrate forcibly those virtues Jane Austen most admired: modesty, firm principles, and a loving heart. As Fanny observes her cousins Maria and Julia cast aside their scruples in dangerous flirtations (and worse), and as she herself resolutely resists the advantages of marriage to the fascinating but morally unsteady Henry Crawford, her seeming austerity grows into appeal and makes clear to us why she was Jane Austen's most favorite among her heroines.
Mansfield Park encompasses not only Austen's great comedic gifts and her genius as a historian of the human animal, but her personal credo as well—her faith in a social order that combats chaos through civil grace, decency, and wit.
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