3 A way of life‘Mansfield Park is portrayed not so much as a place of bricks and mortar and impressive grounds, as a way of life to be defended against interlopers, against the improvers. That is why there is so little material description and what there is, is fairly generalised.’
5 White AtticThe attic is white, a colour usually associated with innocence, and Fanny’s mind is innocent, as Austen frequently shows her heroine as the moral guide for the Bertram and Crawford families
6 The attic is also the highest room in the house, and this corresponds with the high-mindedness of Fanny. The Bertrams, on the other hand, view the attic as a place of low significance, just as they view Fanny when she comes to stay with them. As the novel progresses, however, Fanny’s morals are far above those of any other character, and her significance within the family increasesMoral Heirahcy
7 The Stairs1) A week after Fanny’s arrival at Mansfield Park, Edmund finds his cousin sitting on the stairs that lead to the attic.2) Her placement on the stairs reinforces the view of Fanny as a person between two worlds.3) She can no longer live with her family in Portsmouth and does not feel that the Bertram house is her home either.4) Edmund sees that his cousin is crying and becomes the first person who shows genuine concern for Fanny’s feelings. He joins her physically by sitting on the stairs with her but also mentally as he begins to sympathize with her feelings.
8 Liminal Spaces‘Edmund is caught between his feelings of love for Mary Crawford and his disapproval of her morals, and Fanny is continually caught between her knowledge of people’s true personalities and her inability to express that insight to others. ‘
9 Fanny’s Growth as a character In Volume Two of Mansfield Park, the stairway is the site of another meeting between Fanny and Edmund. The meeting recalls their first conversation on the stairs when Fanny was a child, but this second engagement shows the emotional growth of Fanny. Unlike the younger Fanny, who needed encouragement from Edmund, it is now Edmund who unknowingly depends on Fanny’s guidance and advice. Edmund is in love with Mary Crawford but refuses to see her true character. He believes that he has “‘never been blinded’” (270) by his feelings for Mary, but Fanny recognizes that Edmund is increasingly falling victim to Mary’s manipulations. Fanny is no longer the crying, helpless girl sitting on the stairs, and Austen returns her readers to this familiar area of the house to show how the student has surpassed the teacher. Edmund has taught Fanny to appreciate books and romantic literature, but Fanny possesses a greater knowledge of Mary’s character and must teach Edmund that his feelings are indeed delusive.
10 East Room (The school room) Austen describes the room as “more spacious and more meet for walking about in, and thinking”: This shows Fanny’s growth as a person, her maturity, with the writing desk showing that she is now more able to communicate on paper and is no longer a helpless child. The ‘spacious’ room is a metaphor for her change of position and liberty in the household as well as the growth of affection the family develops for her.
11 Pictures in the East Room The east room also represents her separation from the Bertrams and the collection of family profiles forwards the idea of Fanny being an overseer of the Bertram family; she sees the family and their personalities when no one else sees clearly and sees the faults of the family while the Bertrams prefer to turn their sight away from the true characters of the “profiles.”Also acts as a constant reminder to her detachment with the family
12 Kenneth L. Moler, in his article “Miss Price All Alone,” calls Austen’s use of the East room “the most prominent metaphor expressive of Fanny’s spiritual distance from the Mansfield world”
13 The Fire PlaceThe attic shows Fanny’s distance from the Bertrams when she first arrives at the house, but the East room has more to do with unity than with separation.The addition of a fire in the East room symbolizes the increase of warmth in Sir Thomas’ heart for Fanny.
14 Drawing Room‘A room in a large private house in which guests can be received and entertained’
15 SothertonWe are introduced first of all to the impressive scale of Sotherton, thanks to Miss Bertram’s proprietorial running commentary to her carriage companions: the woods; the ancient manorial residence (Elizabethan); the great estate which encompasses a village, complete with alms-houses, steward’s house, church and parsonage. Then we travel a mile through the park noting its fine timber and in the distance, a half-mile long avenue of long-established oak trees.Alms-houses: A house built originally by a charitable person or organization for poor people to live in.Parsonage: A church house provided for a member of the clergy.Stewards House: One who manages another's property, finances, or other affairs.
16 Outside SothertonHa-ha is a term in garden design that refers to a trench, one side of which is concealed from view, designed to allow an unobstructed view from a garden, pleasure ground, or park, while maintaining a physical barrier in one direction, usually to keep livestock out that are kept on an expansive estate or parcelOutside in the grounds there are descriptions of the turf and shrubs, plants, pheasants, a wilderness, lawns bounded by high walls, a bowling-green, a terrace walk, iron palisades, a wood and, of high symbolic import, a ha-ha and a locked iron gate preventing access to the park beyond. Most of this is compressed into one and a half chapters.A palisade – sometimes called a stakewall – is typically a fence or wall made from wooden stakes or tree trunks and used as a defensive structure.
17 Sotherton on a deeper level From the very beginning of the novel, one perceives that most of the characters are self-centred, but at Sotherton it is made abundantly clear how little they care about the wider repercussions of personal behaviour on social stability. They kick against the physical boundaries - the wall, the ha-ha, the locked iron gate (with the missing key) feature prominently.Maria and Julia Bertram, Henry and Mary Crawford - even Edmund Bertram to a lesser degree - chafe at these restrictions. Fanny Price, on the other hand, spends much of the time just sitting silently on a garden seat, waiting and observing the goings-on with mounting agitation and disquiet.The most important aspect of this highly symbolic section is the function it serves in three crucial areas of the novel’s overall structure:it reveals the individual personalities and priorities of the key characters;it prefigures the future direction - or misdirection - of those relationships;most importantly of all, it sets up the crucial binary oppositions which are at the heart of Mansfield Park : rest and restlessness, stability and change, the moving and the immoveable.’In the Sotherton episode, all the characters, with the sole exception of Fanny, represent this ‘restlessness, movement, change’. She alone symbolises ‘rest, stability, immovability.’ These much more abstract concepts constitute the complex issues which are embedded in the subsequent narrative, in the events and conflicts which are enacted within the internalised boundaries of Mansfield Park.
18 Sotherton HouseWe arrive and are shown over the house. Its sheer size and opulence are emphasised: lofty rooms; shining floors; solid mahogany, rich damask; marble; gilding and carving; pictures in abundance - the larger part are family portraits. Next, a visit to the chapel, which also is described in graphic detail: spacious, handsome and richly furnished; a family gallery; lots more mahogany; crimson velvet.
19 By the endBy the end of Mansfield Park, Fanny has moved physically from only one small room in the Bertram house to occupying and improving the East room for her personal use. At the same time, Fanny is moving emotionally from the miserable girl who was completely alone at Mansfield Park to the heroine who is the moral center of the house and of the novel
20 Edward SaidAmong the most influential appraisals has been that of Marxist critic Edward Said, who has found in the work a deeply imperialist sensibility. Said's comments have also spawned a political understanding of the novel that probes its representation of cultural exclusion. Other assessments of Mansfield Park have concentrated on Fanny Price and Lionel Trilling's famous remark thatImperialism: A policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force.