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Analysis

Mansfield Park Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Fanny comes to live with her aunt and uncle, the Bertrams, at Mansfield Park.

This section sets up all the main characters and introduces us to many of them as children before quickly aging them into young adults. We learn how the Bertram family functions and the author sets up Fanny's awkward place in the family, as well as her important relationship with her cousin Edmund.

Conflict

The Crawford siblings arrive in the neighborhood and Sir Thomas soon leaves town. The new group of friends tries to put on a play.

In this stage a number of complicated romances emerge, all centering around the Crawford siblings. While Sir Thomas is away, his kids start running amuck and get involved in a scandalous theatrical production that allows for lots of flirting.

Complication

Sir Thomas returns, the Bertram sisters depart, and the two Crawfords, Fanny, and Edmund take center stage.

After Maria's marriage, she and Julia leave and the main cast of characters shrinks considerably. We start to focus on the increasingly complicated relationships between Mary, Fanny, and Edmund. Henry returns in this stage and starts to pursue Fanny just to gain another conquest, which leads to more problems.

Climax

Fanny refuses Henry's proposal.

Fanny's refusal of Henry's sincere marriage proposal causes a series of climaxes as Fanny has to talk with nearly all the major characters about her choice. The major climactic scene occurs during her confrontation with Sir Thomas over her refusal of Henry.

Suspense

Henry and the others refuse to give up on his plans to marry Fanny and Fanny is sent to visit her family in Portsmouth.

Fanny is under siege from Henry and her entire family, who think that she ought to marry Henry. Edmund's relationship with Mary seems like it's heading towards marriage, which depresses Fanny. Fanny is also sent to Portsmouth, which is a dramatic change of scene for her.

Denouement

The Bertram kids all suffer illness, scandal, or heartbreak and Fanny is finally able to return home to Mansfield Park with her sister Susan.

While Fanny is miserable in Portsmouth, her cousins are all suffering greatly in their own ways: Tom is dangerously ill, Maria scandalously runs off with Henry, Julia elopes, and Edmund breaks up with Mary. In the midst of this turmoil, Fanny returns rather triumphantly back to Mansfield Park and is welcomed by her aunt and uncle.

Conclusion

Nearly all the deserving characters get married and everyone else ends up alone and miserable.

Fanny and Edmund finally marry while a lot of the major characters, like Maria, Henry, and Mary, end up alone.

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