Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Land and tigers and bears

When I first started to read Culture and Imperialism, I was reading it with Kalie out loud and I looked at her and said, I do not understand half of what this Said man is saying. I can understand the part about Mansfield Park, but I could not really connect it. It wasn't until Dr. Bowser started to put the essay in more lame terms and I was able to see some of those connections. While drawing the diagrams on the board today so many ideas and thoughts popped into my mind. Have I been reading this Mansfield Park with the wrong interpretation all along? Have I been watching the relationships take place and unfold, while neglecting the more important ideas Austen is conveying. The title alone, Mansfield Park, is a way of showing us that this was going to be about a "colony". Within a colony many things take place and are to be determined, who is in charge, social order and rules, limits, space, relocation, dislocation. Edward Said connects this so well to the imperialistic actions England took so long ago to conquer lands they wished to improve and make their own. With Mansfield Park, it's run by Sir Thomas, who is a patirarchal and authoratative role in our novel. With his rule, there was a specific social order at the house, and despite Mrs. Norris' objections, Sir Thomas stood strong. The men, Edmund and Thomas knew where they stood in the household, Tom following his father to Antigua which brought on another idea of colonization. With Edmund then the next in command, Fanny saw more respect and attention than she would have if Sir Thomas was there. It's almost as if we can view Fanny as a piece of property. She is just there, no one pays much attention to her, take her for granted. Edmund shows tender, love and care and this bright woman begins to blossom, who ends up becoming a huge asset to his life. As for Maria marrying Mr. Rushworth there is a different transfer there, no love but lust, a concern for wealth and social acceptance. Maria wants to be in possession of land so she feels a sense of worth. The family overlooks the absence of love but sees the inheritance. It is an improvement to their social standing. When we look at the instances that have to do with land in this novel is has something to do with improvement whether it is social status, economic wealth, or personal gain. The imperialistic underlyings in this novel change the outlook of why this novel was so influential and not just another Austen love story.


Abby Elisabeth said...

I agree! I did not have much time to read through the article before class, but the connections started coming together. Maybe it isn't just Mansfield Park that mirrors colonization. What if all of Jane Austen's novels are a metaphor for colonization for their focus on marriage? In each novel the female protagonists are pushed to pursue wealthy men in order to get a piece of their possessions. This is so much like a country pursuing land rich in resources in order to conquer and reap the benefits. Then women in the novels use their feminine charm to "conquer" the heart of the man they are pursuing.

Interesting stuff! I like your analysis and the fact that you were able to point out the patriarchal rule, alone with the "chain of command" going through the first born.

Maybe the failure of Maria's marriage, or any marriage solely for money, is Austen's way of telling the reader that colonizing countries merely to draw the resources out of them will end up failing (i.e. the conquered people revolt!).

Moving On said...

This analysis was really very helpful because I am really struggling to understand all of the articles that we are given in class and how they connect directly to what we're trying to understand from the novel of Mansfield Park.

This article by Said is apparently one of the most influential articles written on this specific subject, but I really have a hard time figuring out why. But after reading your break down of the patriarchy and "colony within a colony" it starts to make sense how imperialism does play a role in the novel of mansfield park.

Also I agree with Abby that Jane Austen does try to show her female protagonists in this type of light, and that she was probably trying to show the broader idea of the English ideas during the time period that these novels were written for colonization and domination.