Mansfield Park

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William Price Character Analysis

William Price is Fanny’s older brother and one of the people she loves best. A devoted letter writer, William is Fanny’s faithful correspondent throughout the book while he is sailing with the Navy. Twice during the events of the novel he is on leave, and goes to visit Fanny at Mansfield, where he is generally well-liked. Toward the end of the book Henry uses his connections to help William rise in the ranks of the British Navy in an attempt to gain Fanny’s love.

William Price Quotes in Mansfield Park

The Mansfield Park quotes below are all either spoken by William Price or refer to William Price. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Mansfield Park published in 2001.
Chapter 24 Quotes

[Henry Crawford] longed to have been at sea, and seen and done and suffered much. His heart was warmed, his fancy fired, and he felt the highest respect for [William] who, before he was twenty, had gone through such bodily hardships, and given such proofs of mind. The glory of heroism, of usefulness, of exertion, of endurance, made his own habits of selfish indulgence appear in shameful contrast; and he wished he had been a William Price, distinguishing himself and working his way to fortune and consequence with so much self-respect and happy ardour, instead of what he was!

Related Characters: William Price, Henry Crawford
Page Number: 159-160
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Henry is listening to William Price discuss his adventures in the navy. Henry, who has never had to make his own wealth, and instead manages the state he inherited, is admiring and envious of William’s life.

Henry romanticizes William’s self-made career, reveling in the lifestyle he leads, which Henry sees as highly masculine and heroic. When Henry thinks of his own lifestyle, he sees it as self-indulgent, and wishes that, like William, he’d had to make his own way in the world.

In this quote, Austen implies the meritocratic philosophy she weaves throughout the book, showing how Henry feels that his character has suffered by not having had to struggle like Henry. Though Austen’s message is meritocratic, she and her characters also glamorize lower and middle class struggle in a way that is out of touch with the realities of financial insecurity.

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Chapter 31 Quotes

She took the letters as he gave them. The first was from the Admiral to inform his nephew…of his having succeeded in the object he had undertaken, the promotion of young Price…Sir Charles was much delighted in having such an opportunity of proving his regard for Admiral Crawford, and…William Price’s commission as second Lieutenant of H.M. sloop Thrush… was spreading joy through a wide circle of great people.

Related Characters: Fanny Price, William Price, Henry Crawford, The Admiral
Page Number: 202-203
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote describes Fanny reading the letters that made William a lieutenant, thanks to Henry’s uncle, the Admiral. The letters both prove that William was made lieutenant, and also that Henry catalyzed the promotion itself. The letters also show Henry’s large network and social influence, which helped to secure the promotion.

The use of Henry’s social connections, primarily the result of his social class, to obtain William’s promotion has troubling implications for Austen’s meritocratic themes in the book. Although William is frequently held up as the self-made man, William obtained his post in the navy thanks to Sir Thomas’s help, and now has received his promotion thanks to Henry. The fact that William needs to use his rich, upper class connections to secure his positions suggests that even situations that seem meritocratic are often based on preexisting, underlying structures of wealth and class.

Chapter 48 Quotes

In [Susan’s] usefulness, in Fanny’s excellence, in William’s continued good conduct and rising fame, and in the general well-doing and success of the other members of the family…Sir Thomas saw repeated, and forever repeated reason to rejoice in what he had done for them all, and acknowledge the advantages of early hardship and discipline, and the consciousness of being born to struggle and endure.

Related Characters: Fanny Price, William Price, Sir Thomas Bertram, Susan Price
Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Sir Thomas is thinking over the Price children’s success in contrast to his daughters’ disgrace. Throughout the last few chapters, after Maria’s transgression, Sir Thomas has been contemplating how upbringing affects children’s behavior.

Sir Thomas, who has been the children’s benefactor for varying degrees of time, takes pride in their accomplishments. Significantly, Sir Thomas acknowledges the “advantages of early hardship and discipline,” conditions of Fanny, William, and Susan’s upbringing that his own children, who were pampered and spoiled, did not have. This is a big departure from Sir Thomas’s sentiments at the beginning of the book, when he worried that his children’s proximity to Fanny, with her lack of manners and education, would degrade them.

Sir Thomas also endorses the “consciousness of being born to struggle and endure,” which seems to be another way of saying that he sees the benefit of connection to a working-class identity, and the sense of responsibility that brings. Sir Thomas’s acknowledgement that needing to hard work to achieve good seems to further undermine his earlier class snobbishness, as he expresses sentiments that are downright meritocratic. However, he’s also offering these sentiments from a place of privilege—it’s easy for a rich person to vaguely comment on the values poverty can teach.

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William Price Character Timeline in Mansfield Park

The timeline below shows where the character William Price appears in Mansfield Park. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
...all of her offspring. Mrs. Price asks if Sir Thomas can help her oldest boy, William, find a job. (full context)
Chapter 2
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
...asks Fanny to tell him about her siblings. Fanny describes them, focusing on her brother William, the oldest, with whom she is closest. Edmund supplies Fanny with paper and postage to... (full context)
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
Sir Thomas helps Mrs. Price find employment for William. The two siblings spend an extremely happy week together before William, now a sailor, sets... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
...his affection toward her, Edmund rises in Fanny’s opinion until he is second only to William in Fanny’s heart. (full context)
Chapter 4
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
...about the balls that Maria and Julia attend. She also looks forward to her brother William’s impending visit. (full context)
Chapter 6
Letters and Character Theme Icon
...these letters that is curt and unemotional. Fanny, who has a long, fulfilling correspondence with William, pushes back on this idea, and Edmund explains that Fanny’s brother is a sailor and... (full context)
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
The Country vs. the City Theme Icon
Mary asks questions about William, making Fanny uncomfortable. Mary and Edmund discuss the navy men they know. Mary, having lived... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...alone. Fanny is grateful for Mary’s kindness. Mary asks her about her needlework, and about William, making Fanny like her more. (full context)
Chapter 16
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...The narrator describes the room’s décor: Fanny’s plants, the plain, old furniture, a picture that William drew. Fanny paces the room, feeling conflicted about having refused the part. She wonders if... (full context)
Chapter 24
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
...her hatred for him. Henry tries to be the first to break the news that William’s ship has returned from sailing to England, but Fanny receives a letter from him just... (full context)
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
William comes to Mansfield to see Fanny, and they are both extremely happy to be reunited.... (full context)
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Henry is struck by the intimacy that William and Fanny share, and by how much he likes William. Henry also begins to genuinely... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Mrs. Norris, catching on the topic of Sotherton, tells William that Maria and Mr. Rushworth are at Brighton and that William should visit them on... (full context)
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The group moves to sit around the fire, except for William and Fanny, who stay at the card table while Henry watches them from the hearth.... (full context)
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William tells Fanny he would like to see her dance at a ball, and asks Sir... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Sir Thomas, inspired by William’s comment that he has never seen Fanny dance, decides to throw a ball before William... (full context)
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
Fanny worries over her dress. William has bought her a cross that she would like to wear, but she has no... (full context)
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...asks what Fanny will do for a necklace. Mary, knowing that Fanny intends to wear William’s cross, but that she has no chain for it, tells Fanny to pick one of... (full context)
Chapter 27
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...her a note asking her to accept a gold chain that he bought her for William’s cross. He leaves the chain on the table and is about to dash out when... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
The day of the ball arrives. Henry sends a note offering to give William a ride with him to London and inviting him to dinner with him and his... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
...ball, is thrilled about Edmund’s bad news which, along with the note from Henry asking William to dine with him and the Admiral, puts her in good spirits. She tries to... (full context)
Chapter 28
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After dancing with Edmund, Fanny is out of breath and must sit down. William, Henry, and Sir Thomas keep her company, and they make plans to have breakfast the... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Fanny sees William off in the morning and cries afterward. Edmund also leaves for his ordainment in Peterborough.... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
The Country vs. the City Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...with Mrs. Grant and Mary. The house is very quiet without the Bertram children and William, and Fanny expects that she will have to get used to it since Edmund will... (full context)
Chapter 31
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...the next morning. Lady Bertram leaves Fanny alone with Henry. Henry announces to Fanny that William has been made a lieutenant, thanks to his influence with the Admiral, and shows her... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
...tell Sir Thomas when Henry stops her, and tells her that everything he did for William he did because he is in love with her. Fanny asks him to stop his... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
Fanny goes to the East Room and thinks over the events that just occurred, from William’s promotion to Henry’s proposal, until she is sure that Henry has left. She then goes... (full context)
Chapter 33
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
...despised Henry, she now is more sympathetic to him, especially after what he did for William, though she does not think they are compatible for romance. When Fanny leaves, returning to... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...he extended his stay in an attempt to avoid Mary. Sir Thomas updates Edmund on William’s promotion and Henry’s proposal. (full context)
Chapter 36
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
...toward Fanny is something else entirely. Mary then reminds Fanny of his tenacity in securing William’s promotion, the most powerful argument in Fanny’s mind. (full context)
Chapter 37
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
The Country vs. the City Theme Icon
William, who has a leave of absence, heads to Mansfield to spend time with Fanny. Sir... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...forward to a large, loving family, and feeling like she is equal to them all. William, like Fanny, is very excited about the plan. He tells Fanny that they could use... (full context)
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Mrs. Norris is upset when Sir Thomas gives William money for the trip, unhappy to see someone else be the recipient of Sir Thomas’s... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
...home to Portsmouth, Fanny cries on her last night in Mansfield Park, and she and William leave the next morning. (full context)
Chapter 38
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
Fanny and William enjoy their travels together, talking and laughing. They do not discuss Henry’s proposal, though. Despite... (full context)
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The Country vs. the City Theme Icon
Fanny and William stay overnight in Newbury, and then set off again the next day. They arrive in... (full context)
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William emerges from another room wearing his lieutenant costume, and Fanny hugs him and cries that... (full context)
Chapter 39
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
The Country vs. the City Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...week at the Price home in Portsmouth ends up being disappointing. She does not see William much before he leaves again, because everyone’s lives in Portsmouth are so hectic. Fanny entirely... (full context)
Chapter 48
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
Sir Thomas, observing how good Fanny, William, and Susan are, thinks that struggle in early childhood yields good morals and responsibility. He... (full context)