Social Norms In Mansfield Park

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Mansfield Park, a nineteenth century novel written by Jane Austen, details the life of Fanny Price, the heroine of the novel, and Maria Bertram, daughter of Sir Thomas, the estate owner of Mansfield Park. Both characters live in a time where they are expected to succumb to men and fit familial and societal molds. People believed that to fit this mold, young women must become wives and mothers. In Mansfield Park, a woman’s education was nearly inseparable to her home life. What she learned, and consequently, her conduct, was a reflection of the manner in which she grew up, and this holds true in both Maria Bertram and Fanny Price’s case. John Gregory's conduct manual, a book designed to educate the female reader on expected social norms of the …show more content…

However, Sir Thomas would not be able to predict her unfortunate outcome. This instance is shown when Fanny is first brought to Mansfield Park. When she is initially presented to the family, Maria harshly remarks that Fanny is “really so very ignorant!”(Austen 40) because she cannot speak French, correctly answer geography questions, or play the piano. Because the conduct book only focuses on how a young woman should conduct herself pertaining to men, instead of broadening her ability to treat another human being respectfully, Maria is deficient in her moral capabilities, and Sir Thomas begins to realize this. The conduct manual that they are brought up on is “deficient in the less common acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity, and humility”(Austen 50). Maria does not act with generosity toward Fanny, as she could have behaved in a kinder manner since Fanny was terrified of her change in setting. Because of Maria’s poor behavior, Sir Thomas is anxious whether or not a conduct book education was the right path Maria should have been raised with, and further thinks about his errors in raising his

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