Mansfield Park: Episode 9, Chapters 35-39

In this episode, we read Chapters 35 to 39 of Mansfield Park. We talk about how Edmund and Mary dismiss Fanny’s concerns about Henry, Sir Thomas’s decision to send Fanny back to Portsmouth, Fanny and William’s journey, the comedy of the arrival in Portsmouth, Fanny’s reaction to the house, and the very realistic and grounded nature of the Portsmouth scenes .

We discuss Edmund Bertram, then Harriet’s partner Michael talks about the Marines. Harriet looks at how adaptations and modernisations treat these chapters, and then Ellen talks about a later nineteenth century novel influenced by Mansfield Park.

Things we mention:

General and character discussion:

Historical discussion:

Popular culture discussion:

Map of locations

Below is a Google map of the places mentioned in Mansfield Park, including approximate locations of the houses. Zoom in to see Portsmouth.

Colour coding:

  • Blue is Bertram family
  • Aqua is Price family
  • Olive is Mrs Norris
  • Red is Crawford/Grant families
  • Purple is Rushworth family

Creative commons music used:

7 thoughts on “<em>Mansfield Park</em>: Episode 9, Chapters 35-39”

  1. Thanks for the latest podcast. I learn something new every time I listen. The difference between Marines and Navy was especially enlightening. What would cause someone to go into the Marines over the Navy?

    • Hi Sue – Thanks for the comment, and sorry I’ve been so long in responding. You raise an interesting points, and we recorded a response to be included in the next episode (currently being edited). But I checked with Michael and two key reasons are: 1. For the navy you need to start at age 13, whereas Marines you can be older; and 2. Even to just get in to the Navy as a midshipman you needed ‘interest’ to have a captain take you on, and that wasn’t the case with the Marines. (It used to be you could start as a normal seaman, and work your way up, but by Jane Austen’s time that was increasingly not the case.)

  2. Enjoyed as usual. But — I really like Edmund. “I should hope to be remembered at such a distance as the White house” captures his voice and style of humor for me. Do you mean Austen tried to make him attractive and failed? And also failed to explain why Mary would like him, apart from his being a baronet’s son, “well bred” and good-looking?

    He’s wrong and oblivious in Ch. 35, but he’s being mocked for it Emma-style (“I wish he had known you as well as I do,” “He should have worked upon my plans,” “the kind authority of a privileged guardian”). And Fanny gets to make strong arguments that we know are better than his, even as we feel for Fanny’s being only half-listened to. He always dismisses or talks himself out of criticism of the Crawfords, until the very end when he is “no longer the dupe” of Mary. Maybe, like Elizabeth Bennet, I can soften the manner of Edmund’s speeches, and remember their warmth.

    • Thanks for the comment, and sorry I’ve been so long in responding. It is good to hear that there is some love for Edmund out there :-). And yes, there is certainly warmth to Edmund, which I think we should all try to remember, even when his actions are a bit disappointing.
      We’ve recorded a response to your comments, which will be included in the next episode (currently being edited).

  3. Hello!

    My modern sensibilities struggle with the Fanny-Edmund romance because they are first cousins. She avoids a rake only to marry someone akin to an older brother, which makes the outcome of the novel somewhat unsatisfying for me. Fanny didn’t know enough people of suitable age and stature and should have mingled in society more. After all, she’d only just come out at the ball mere months before — if you want to interpret the event as such.

    I do wonder if you can discuss the topic of intermarrying in families and when it became taboo. I think it must be a recent development in Western culture as Franklin Roosevelt married his fifth cousin in the early 20th century and “kissing cousins” are a major plot point in “Gone With the Wind,” which was published in 1936.

    • I think a lot of people do struggle with the cousins marrying aspect of the plot. For some reason it never particularly bothered me. I would say it’s because I read a lot of Georgette Heyer … except that this wasn’t until AFTER my first reading of Mansfield Park (though before subsequent readings). So I would probably have more of an issue with them being brought up as almost brother-sister … although on my first reading even this didn’t really occur to me. I was quite young, and totally invested in Fanny getting the person she wanted!

      I think the suggestion of talking about taboos of intermarrying within families is a really interesting idea, and we’ll look at it when we are planning out future series. Unfortunately it’s too late for Mansfield Park, as the last two episodes are recorded (although I’m behind in editing.)

    • Fifth cousins is hardly a relation at all, though – at that distance there is little to no genetic overlap. It’s unusual to know even one’s third cousins, much less fifth. (That is, it’s unusual to know who they are. A great many people probably marry distant cousins without knowing it.)

      First cousins marrying is not a big deal in a genetic sense if it happens only occasionally, rather than being a pattern several generations in a row, and if the cousins are not double cousins (who share all four grandparents) or the children of identical twins (who are essentially half siblings). But of course Fanny’s world is indeed far too artificially restricted.


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