“I cannot get out, as the starling said–”: estate improvements, gender, and morality in Mansfield park and “the greatest improvement the house ever had–”: physical space, gender, and class in persuasion

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Patrick G. Dollar (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Anne Wallace

Abstract: Mansfield Park's presentation of gender roles and relationships is complex and fraught with potential contradictions. Fanny Price, with her seemingly antiquated notions of estate improvement and romanticized nature, becomes an effectual yet subtle proponent for positive changes in gender relations and dismantling of patriarchy. Through Austen's connection of estate improvement, nature, and gender, the novel attempts to write an alternative to restrictive gender roles embodied by the patriarchal rule of Sir Thomas Bertram at Mansfield. This essay will show how the novel's depiction of estate improvement and landscape recommends more positive gender relations rather than directly advocating for patriarchy's demise. The natural aspects of the estate represent Fanny and her value system, while patriarchal power and its destructive influence on morality and women are linked to the artificial and negative estate improvements favored by the Crawfords. Although many critics and readers charge Jane Austen with a pronounced blindness to contemporary issues, Persuasion reflects and foreshadows some of the dramatic changes occurring in England after the Napoleonic wars. In its depictions of place and landscape, Persuasion pays particular attention to the rise of the naval class, the re-orientation of the traditional landed aristocracy, and shifting roles for women. In the its focus on the domestic, the novel manages to combat the dominant but challenged ideologies of aristocracy and patriarchy. Using its depiction of place and landscape, I argue that Persuasion pays particular attention to the rise of the naval class, the re-orientation of the traditional landed aristocracy, and shifting roles for women. Persuasion explores the social, cultural, and economic changes occurring in England after the Napoleonic War through its use of landscape. Rather than fleeing from the real world in her treatment of the domestic, Jane Austen instead presents a seemingly domestic portrait as a way to explore issues of class and gender.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Language: English
Date: 2013
Keywords
Gender, Jane Austen, Landscape, Mansfield Park, Persuasion
Subjects
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $t Mansfield Park
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $t Persuasion
Domestic space in literature
Sex role in literature
Patriarchy in literature

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