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Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's 'Mansfield Park'

Joyce Kerr Tarpley

Publication Year: 2011

Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park offers a rigorous philosophical examination of the novel, the first book-length, close reading to do so.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-

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Preface

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pp. vii-xii

Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park” addresses the ethical dimension of Austen’s thought in her most controversial novel, Mansfield Park, by examining the portrayal of her least popular heroine, Fanny Price, and by focusing on...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

Suggestions that helped this project in its early stages came from Janet Smith, who recommended Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, and Scott Crider, who recommended the focus on a single novel. I also thank Theresa Kenney for

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Introduction. Reading Austen’s Ethics

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pp. 1-19

Among the qualities that account for Jane Austen’s enduring appeal, her ability to synthesize, or combine and unify, seemingly disparate elements and ideas within a complex and coherent whole suggests itself to be an essential one. This synthesizing...

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1. Constancy: A Definition

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pp. 20-56

Jane Austen uses the word “constancy” in all of her novels except Northanger Abbey, and the term appears more times in Mansfield Park than in any of the other novels.1 The word is etymologically derived from the original Latin noun...

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2. Constancy and Education

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pp. 57-86

The word “mind” appears approximately 160 times within the text of Mansfield Park, more than in any other novel.1 What better signal could the author send to her readers that her principal concern is the mind, in particular its education...

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3. Constancy, Education, and Leisure: An Interlude

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pp. 87-98

The responsible use of freedom is the primary goal of Fanny Price’s Christian liberal education. Austen concerns herself with a particular freedom—leisure—a word that appears more times in Mansfield Park than it does in her other novels..

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4. The Practice of Constancy

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pp. 99-132

Space, meaning the realm within which Austen’s narrative unfolds, is one of the most analyzed and intriguing aspects of her art .1 Austen herself describes her narrative space as a “little bit (two inches wide) of Ivory on which I work w...

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5. Constancy, Love, and Beauty

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pp. 133-163

A characteristic of Jane Austen’s work that suggests a Christian sensibility is the theme of the beautiful as the good. Henry Crawford’s impressions of Fanny Price, filtered through the narrator’s perspective, illustrate that sensibility by representing...

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6. Constancy, Nature, and Beauty

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pp. 164-181

A characteristic of Jane Austen’s work that suggests a Christian sensibility is the theme of the beautiful as the good. Henry Crawford’s impressions of Fanny Price, filtered through the narrator’s perspective, illustrate that sensibility by representing...

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7. Constancy and the Pursuit of Truth

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pp. 182-217

The question of truth is vital to this reading of Mansfield Park in three important ways. First, there is the pursuit of truth represented by the conversations—both internal and external—of characters in the novel. There is the truth—or realism—of...

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8. Constancy, Narrative Style, and Truth

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pp. 218-242

By virtue of her innovative use of narrative techniques, Austen anticipates some of the insights of Mikhail Bakhtin. Each of the three “global concepts that reappear” in Bakhtin’s writings seems applicable to Austen in some way: the concept...

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Conclusion. Reading Austen’s Ends

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pp. 243-258

Jane Austen’s narratives suggest that to answer rightly the question, “How should I live my life?” one must first know to what end that life aspires. Thus, in the realm of ethics, aiming for the right telos, or end, is paramount. With her unusual...

Appendix. Mansfield Park Plot Summary

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pp. 259-262

Bibliography

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pp. 263-270

Index

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pp. 271-288


E-ISBN-13: 9780813218977
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813217901

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Austen, Jane, 1775-1817. Mansfield Park.
  • Austen, Jane, 1775-1817 -- Ethics.
  • Constancy in literature.
  • Ethics in literature.
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