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Monday, June 28, 2010

Austen Hero Essay from Casey

Casey at The Bookish Type shared an awesome essay she wrote on the similarities between Austen.  She makes a lot of really excellent points, and I highly recommend that you go read it.  Here are some of the highlights for me:

"In Mansfield Park, the character most resembling Jane Austen’s best-loved hero, Mr. Darcy, is not the hero Edmund, but the mischief-causing libertine Henry Crawford. Henry resembles Darcy in many ways. Fanny begins by justifiably despising him in the same way Elizabeth did Darcy; his affections were the first to change, just as Darcy’s were. Both men, upon having their proposals flatly refused, set out to raise themselves in their beloved’s esteem, and both encountered them away from the main setting of action and proved themselves exceptionally civil to their purportedly inferior relations. Finally, both men did the two women a great service – Darcy saved Elizabeth’s sister Lydia from the scandal of eloping with Wickham as much as she could be saved, and Henry brought about Fanny’s brother William’s promotion in the navy."

"Mary Crawford is the Elizabeth Bennet figure in Mansfield Park, but she is seen from a different perspective than Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a vibrant and sparkling heroine in her own story, but from the point of view of an introverted character like Fanny, she is overbearing to the point of pushing the rightful heroine into the shadows."

"Fanny and Edmund constantly try to steer each other to their own way of thinking, creating an undercurrent of tension. Elizabeth and Darcy did change one another over the course of Pride and Prejudice – Elizabeth learned to be less prejudiced, Darcy learned to be less proud – but they did so unintentionally. They did not actively try to change one another; rather, they made each other a better person in the way of the romantic ideal..."

"To those readers who fancy themselves an Elizabeth Bennet, Edmund is a grim fate. However, to readers who are of a disposition more akin to that of Fanny Price, who is perhaps the more typical of the two, Edmund is a desirable hero. Because Elizabeth was a singular heroine, she needed an extraordinary hero. Fanny, on the other hand, was an average and unwilling heroine; thus, she gained a hero to match her everydayness – but that is all she desired and more than she dared to hope for, and that made him extraordinary to her. "

To read more, go here


  1. Hi Misty! Thanks SO much for sharing this as part of the event!! I really appreciate it! I'm flattered that you enjoyed it and found my points valid =)

  2. Interesting. I've never thought of that. Maybe because i spend most of Mansfield park wishing for Fanny to have an untidy end.

  3. +JMJ+

    What an interesting analysis! I can definitely see that Henry Crawford is the Fitzwilliam Darcy of Mansfield Park--and when I was still reading that novel, I seriously believed Austen was going to redeem him with a fate she usually doesn't reserve for her "bad boys."

    But Mary Crawford as Elizabeth Bennett? I'll have to reread the whole book again to see it. Nevertheless, the idea that really good authors have character "types" (or archetypes) that they put in each of their books, with a completely original spin each time, has always been fascinating to me. I remember one of my English Lit professors remarking that in the character of Emma Woodhouse, Lady Catherine becomes a heroine at last. More food for thought! =)

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