Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Prudie and Mansfield Park

My book club meets tomorrow and I am no where near finished my book by book, chapter by chapter analysis. Ah well. But I can at least do Prudie. She is sorely tempted, isn't she? Her wonderful, sensitive, romantic and caring husband seems dull, uninteresting, too familiar.

" What was wrong with a solid kind of guy? Did you want a marriage full of surprises, or did you want a guy you could depend on?" But later ... " Prudie had thought that was what she wanted. Someone with no pretense...But just occasionally she felt more lucky in her marriage than contented with it. She could imagine something better."

Around her are the raging hormones of her students ( and her own) She has very "unAustenish" thoughts about Trey Norton ( but of course these were exactly Austen thoughts as Austen's characters are similarly beseiged and in MP Maria succumbs!) She has the glimpse of an affair between two colleagues one of them married. "Prudie's own feelings on adultery were taken from the French". She dislikes the character of Edmund for not being more forgiving of his sister who commits adultery.
The rehearsal for Brigadoon ( about love) in Prudie's chapter mirrors the rehearsal of " Lovers Vows" in MP - the play itself is never performed. There is the whole courtship problem of the student players which mirrors relationship flirtations in MP.

Then there is the theme of change. There is the computer trouble which Prudie has which must be handled by her young neighbour Cameron with all his talk about DSL and bandwidth. She sees all the young students and is not really part of their world. Then there is the death of her mother ( which she dreams about) Jane showing her through an estate ( like MP-heaven) and in one room she has put her mother - the island in the distance - the great sea change of her mother's death.

Prudie's mother made her care more for unreality than reality, living in imagination more than in the actual. I am not sure how this relates particularly to Mansfield Park, except it perhaps explains Prudie's love of Austen's fictional world. Perhaps the others in my book group will have a better idea.

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Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)