Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jane Austen

Jane Austen was one of seven children born to parents George and Cassandra Austen in Steventon, England, where Austen’s father worked as a rector. Despite their position as members of the English gentry, George and Cassandra were not especially wealthy. When Austen was 25 she moved with her family to Bath, England, and then moved nine years later to Chawton, England, where she wrote Mansfield Park. Austen published her six novels, including favorites such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma, anonymously. They were only published under her own name posthumously.
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Historical Context of Mansfield Park

Although Austen, who rarely discusses contemporary politics or news in her books, does not specifically mention any historical events in Mansfield Park, she does refer to Sir Thomas’s business in Antigua. Antigua had been a British colony since 1632, and its major profit came from plantations worked by slaves. When Austen wrote Mansfield Park, slave trading had only recently been abolished in 1807 (meaning human trafficking from Africa to England and its colonies was prohibited). While slavery didn’t end for people born into slavery in England or its colonies until 1833, the 1807 act marked the beginning of the end of the brutal system upon which Brits like Sir Thomas built their wealth.

Other Books Related to Mansfield Park

Austen wrote at a time when the novel was undergoing significant changes in style and form. The novel itself was relatively new to the English literary tradition, with Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, published in 1749, considered to be one of the earliest English novels. Mansfield Park, published only 65 years after Tom Jones, and Austen’s other novels are often seen as books that connect the earliest English novels to the highly developed novels of Victorian writers like George Eliot and Charles Dickens. Unlike earlier English novels such as Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Austen’s works focus more on interpersonal relationships and less on questions of morality.
Key Facts about Mansfield Park
  • Full Title: Mansfield Park
  • When Written: 1812-1813
  • Where Written: Chawton, England
  • When Published: 1814
  • Literary Period: Classicism/Romanticism
  • Genre: Novel of Manners
  • Setting: Mansfield Park, Sotherton, Portsmouth (all in England)
  • Climax: Henry and Maria’s disappearance together and the revelation of their affair
  • Antagonist: Mrs. Norris
  • Point of View: Third person omniscient

Extra Credit for Mansfield Park

Marriage. Despite the fact that all of Jane Austen’s novels prominently feature courtship and marriage, Austen herself never married. Austen did, however, have an intense romantic flirtation with Irishman Thomas Lefroy, whom she met when she was twenty.

Film. Mansfield Park has been adapted for the screen three times, once as a full-length movie and twice as a television mini-series.