Mansfield Park: ‘she does not like to act’
It has already been noted by Michael Giffin that Austen works within a paradigm of orthodox Georgian Anglican ideology, representing ‘soteria’ in a way that situates her characters and their problems in relation to the possibility of salvation in a fallen world.332 I would extend that argument to claim that Austen’s narratives mediate between the apparently incommensurable domains of material and ideational worlds, refigured in the more abstract structuring principles of romance finally overcoming the resistance of realism, and figuring in turn the salvational logic of feminine wish-fulfilment; incrementally mediating the fallen with the paradisal. Some literary heroine. And the ‘persistence’ of Austen in the twenty first century suggests that there remains a desire for just such a ‘transformation of the reader’s subjective attitudes’.333 Austen writes explicitly of the possibility of salvation in concrete terms of particular, still recognizable, incarnations of feminine desires and the conditions for overcoming their obstacles. Since the abstractions of desire that she captures transfer across starkly different historical and cultural conditions, her work remains a vehicle for this abstract salvational equation which shapes the narrative form.
KeywordsHappy Ending Providential Identity Passive Agency Heterosexual Marriage Birth Family
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- 330.Denise de Rougemont, Love in the Western World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 164–5.Google Scholar
- 332.Michael Giffin, Jane Austen and Religion: Salvation and Society in Georgian England (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2002). Also, see Gary Kelly, ‘Religion and Politics’, in Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 335.Carol Shields, Jane Austen (London: Phoenix, 2001), pp. 98–9.Google Scholar
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