Diane Reynolds just wrote the below quoted comments in the Janeites group, and here is how I replied:
" I too have an uneasy sense that I'm missing something JA means to communicate about religion in MP ... and when JA gives off that vibe, it's good to pay attention."
Exactly so, Diane!
"Since I'm a Quaker, my initial thought was a Quaker subtext, as Mansfield, at least early on, was a center of Quakerism, and since Fanny Price reminded me of Jane Eyre, who is likened to a Quaker "
I had no idea that Mansfield was an early center of Quakerism, Diane, thanks for that---it makes perfect sense!
I have recently concluded that JA has a very serious Quaker subtext in her novels, and not just in Mansfield Park!
You were on the right track last summer when you wrote:
"When Henry comes to visit her at Portsmouth, he says to Fanny: "Your judgment is my rule of right." She responds: "Oh no! -- do not say so. We have all a better guide in ourselves if we would attend to it, than any person can be." This sounds like Quakerism to me. And Cowper, who Fanny thinks of, was much admired by the Quakers for his abolitionist stance. Or is Fanny just a straight evangelical? Did Austen ever write about Quakers? "
There are lots of hints in MP that suggest that Fanny Price is a Quaker, if not in actual practice, then in spirit and sympathy.
However, the best evidence of JA's Quakerism is not in Mansfield Park but where you'd least expect to find it....but more on that in my book!
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