Jane has been affected by complete patriarchal superiority

Jane
Austen was an English novelist known
for her six major novels among which one of them is Mansfield Park. According
to critics, Mansfield Park is the first of Jane Austen’s novel to be conceived
as well as executed and published in maturity. In this book Austen lays
emphasis on the freedom of women in the 18th century. Even the title
of the book has been choosen with lots of accuracy as it speaks of freedom as
the name Mansfield is synonymous of abolition. Like other women Jane Austen was
not able to separate herself from her role as women when she was writing.as
Virginia Woolf noted:” A woman’s writing is always feminine; it cannot help
being feminine; at its best it’s most feminine…” (Showalter, 1968, p.247).  The conscious effort of Austen is to find a
plausible way out of the problem found in the book.

 

 

Since contemporary times, it
has been seen that women has been affected by complete patriarchal superiority
as to where they were suppressed, oppress and condemned.it is to be noted how
at the beginning itself, the three sisters were married off to different
section of society as .power is held within a context of rising and falling
female fortunes. In chapter one, it has been said, “miss Maria ward married…with
only seven thousand pounds, had a good luck to captivate Sir Thomas
Bertram…raised to the rank of a baronet lady, with all the comfort and
consequences of an handsome house and large income.”. The middle sister, miss
ward was obliged to marry the Rev. Mr. Norris, with scarcely any private fortune.
Miss Frances married a poor lieutenant in a common family. Hence it can be seen
that how marriage which was considered to be sacred constitution was considered
to be a market where the women were treated as commodities and passed on among
men. Long time back only the man was the bread winner of the family so women
were feeling grateful to whoever protects them. There was gratitude over love.
Marriage   is important for a woman, as
it raised their rank, class and fortune. During those time women had to be dependent
they did not have any freedom at all a man was a father figure, figure of
authority and also as the representative of the family. This is also proven as
in Christianity it has been mentioned that one man was choosen and established
by God who will educate the rest of the society.

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 In Jane Austen’s book: Pride and Prejudice, it
could be seen how girls were tamed in order to fit in the society. This is
shown in the case of Elizabeth, where she has to abide by code of conducts and
had to possess certain talents to be a distinguished women from the upper class
society.

It is seen in the following
quote:

You are a very strange
creature by way of a friend!—always wanting me to play and sing before anybody
and everybody!—If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been
invaluable, but as it is, I would really rather not sit down before those who
must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers.” On Miss Lucas’s
persevering, however, she added, “Very well; if it must be so, it
must.” And gravely glancing at Mr. Darcy, “There is a fine old
saying, which everybody here is of course familiar with—”Keep your breath
to cool your porridge,”—and I shall keep mine to swell my song. “Her
performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a song or two, and
before she could reply to the entreaties of several that she would sing again,
she was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in
consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for
knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display.”

Pride and Prejudice. Jane
Austen. Ed Penguin Popular Classics 1994 Page 21

 

The
patriarchal structure in the society delineates a clear relationship of
inequality between men and women. Sir Thomas is shown as a guide and a leader
to the female members in terms of how they should maintain their status, image,
values, and education. Sir Thomas Bertram’s absence in the household soon leads
to disaster; though both Edmund and Fanny are witness they cannot utter a
word due to them being powerless. On the departure of Sir Thomas, neither
Maria nor Julia is sad. “They
were relieved by it from all restraint; and without aiming at one
gratification that would probably have been forbidden by Sir Thomas, they
felt themselves immediately at their own disposal, and to have
every indulgence within their reach”.

Maria
Bertram, daughter of Sir Thomas, seems to justify “the persistent fear of
female sexuality” common in society at that time; including Tom and his
friend Mr. Yates in the scheme and with the approval of both Lady Bertram
and Mrs. Norris, the young people decide to put on a play by themselves.
The play allows several instances of improper behavior among the actors,
including promiscuity on the part of the soon-to-be-married Maria.

Order
could be restrained only on sir Thomas arrival. Despite Edmund’s
unsuccessful attempts to prevent the play, on Sir Thomas arrival, the “frivolities
of the young people stop at once”. Sir Thomas’s presence was
required in the West Indies to restore order to the efforts of his
colonial estate; he provides necessary guidance to uphold the
respectability of the household. Due to lack of maturity, constant
guidance is required to the women present in his family.

Fanny
has been out casted and considered inferior as her mother married to a man of
lower class hence Fanny struggles in finding a place in the structure of
Mansfield Park as Mansfield park consist of a small strip of society namely of
a upper- middle class. Her sense of belonging comes as she is useful to the
Bertram family. She gives companion to Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris,
attempting to provide them with amusement in company or aid to complete their tasks. “Lady Bertram, sunk back in one corner of
the sofa, the picture of health, wealth, ease, and tranquility, was just
falling into a gentle doze, while Fanny was getting through the few
difficulties of her work for her”. While Mrs. Norris and Lady
Bertram dote on the caprices of their daughters, Fanny must in turn work to
please her aunts in order to win their favor. The dividing issue of class
places Fanny at a disadvantage in social value to that of her more
affluent cousins and aunts, and without the bolstering of a husband’s
influence she can do little to change her circumstances.

In
the end, Fanny’s situation as a ward of the Bertram family at Mansfield Park is
same as the eventual fate of all women in nineteenth century
English society. Marriage is the ultimate goal for the respectable young
lady, and while it may seem a move towards independence, in reality
marriage signifies the commencement of submission to a new patriarch—the
husband. Maria marries Mr. Rushworth as a mean of escapism “the restraint which her father imposed.” Independence
did not await Maria after her nuptials, however. “Maria Bertram’s marriage gave her
independence from her father, but only by placing her in a position of
dependence on her husband”. For a woman, there can be no
real freedom—the constraints mandated by society upon their gender do not
allow the independence of a woman without the custody of a man.Before
being married she is in the authority of her father after getting married, she
is in the custody of her husband.

Maria
disregarding her husband’s authority earns her a bad reputation and exile
from her family’s society, Fanny’s receiving of a marriage proposal from
Henry Crawford raises her in the opinion of Sir Thomas. Her subsequent
refusal, however, receives severe verbal retribution. He sternly
observes, “‘you have
disappointed every expectation I had formed, and proved yourself of a character
the very reverse of what I had supposed”. To receive the attentions
of a well-established man was the greatest honor for a woman of Fanny’s
position, but to ignore them was the worst sort of behavior that could be
expected of a woman. A woman’s deference to male affirmation of her
character remained the surest method in which she could hope to attain the
approval of those around her, and a comfortable position in the society of
which she is meant to become a part.

Marriage
is a form of submission for women, and the ultimate model of socially
expected female subjugation to male authority. To protect her marriage, the
wife must bend to accommodate and support the man they marry. Similar are the
circumstance of the conditions faced by colonized peoples, and the workers
who “are forced (by a system of
punishment and reward) to adopt the oppressor’s standards, values, and
identification” so must women learn to accept the complete
authority of their husbands in order to maintain societal acceptance .Fanny
triumphs over Mary Crawford in the bid for Edmund’s affection by virtue of
her unquestioning submission to Edmund as the leading male figure in her
life. Mary remains unmarried, and thus must  search for her security within
society. She could not succeed in beginning a life with Edmund because she
could not accept him as her superior; romantic interest alone is not
enough to validate a marriage when the wife will not look to the husband
as principal guardian of their life within society.

Mary
constantly questioned the validity of Edmund’s conviction to pursue the
life of a clergyman, and did not respect his
authority in the guidance of his own life—let alone in the life they would have
led together. “They had
talked—and they had been silent—he had reasoned—she had ridiculed—and they
had parted at last with mutual vexation”. Ultimately, the relationship
fails
before marriage is proposed because Edmund believes that Mary has not been
brought up correctly, and must be forgotten because he is unable to change
her. Fanny, conversely, shows her love for Edmund in her constant devotion
to his happiness, and belief in the near-infallibility of his opinions and
intentions. She never disagrees with him, and in truth her unquestioning
admiration of his character, actions, and opinions form the basis of her
romantic attachment.

“Having formed her mind and gained her
affections, he had a good chance of her thinking like him”. In fact, Fanny’s introduction to the world
of romance was based on her willing submission and subsequent admiration
for a male authority—Edmund. Ultimately, Fanny’s submission to
Edmund’s will as her patriarchal authority in married life permanently
raises her from the socially and economically vulnerable presence as a
ward of Mansfield Park to that of a distinguished, respectably married
woman. The combination of submission and deep fondness in the marriage of
Fanny

In
her work, Austen presents a society which positions women as merciless compounds
of economic and patriarchal oppression that made them helpless in their own
regression from free-thinking individuals to servants of institutions which
robs their humanity. Her female protagonists, unique, refuse to abandon their
own personal convictions and desires,hence were able to circumvent the
greater evils of loveless, pragmatic marriage and the inherent
voluntary concession to a joyless future; they could only do so, however,
in remaining submissive to the patriarchal structure of society as a
whole. The oppressive nature of this form of society has caused great
damage to the female community, placing competing women in opposition to
each other with men in the privileged role of choosing the
superior individual.

 

 

 

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