Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park


Jane Austen

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Mansfield Park: Chapter 40 Summary & Analysis

Fanny receives Mary’s next letter, which arrives later than the previous ones, and she reads it excitedly, happy for news from outside of Portsmouth. Mary describes how Henry asks about Fanny, how Julia is courted by Mr. Yates, and how Edmund remains at Mansfield.
Fanny had thought that she would not want to correspond with Mary, but her discomfort in Portsmouth makes the letters welcome. Again, letters bring news and emotional support from afar.
Letters and Character Theme Icon
In Portsmouth, Fanny fails to attach herself to her mother and father’s social circle because she carries herself so differently. Fanny does find a friend in her sister Susan, in whom she sees good manners despite her upbringing, and a desire to be kind, helpful, and perceptive.
Fanny’s good manners are viewed as pretentious in Portsmouth, so she has trouble mingling with the lower-middle class, showing how manners divide people along class lines.
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Fanny decides to buy a silver knife for Betsey so that she will stop stealing the knife that their deceased sister Mary (Price) gave to Susan. When she does, Susan is extremely grateful to her, and their relationship becomes closer. Fanny takes Susan under her wing, mentoring her in proper etiquette and manners and refining her taste.
Fanny, who is used to feeling grateful for other people’s generosity instead of being generous herself, takes on a role like Sir Bertram’s when she gives Betsy the knife. Fanny has elevated herself to the same roles as the people who used to be higher class than she was.
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon