At the start of Mansfield Park Fanny arrives at Mansfield. Fanny stands out from those who live at Mansfield. She is much more humble and less arrogant than her relatives. Fanny is, all in all, a simple girl. As the story goes on, however, the reader gets a glimpse of exactly how Fanny has changed when she goes back to visit her family. Before encountering this look of Fanny's family and her life at Portsmouth, it is clear that her time at Mansfield has changed Fanny, and not for the better.
In Volume III, Chapter VIII, the entire chapter is made up of narrative, as opposed to any type of scene or dialogue. Through this narrative Austen sets up a theme, which can be seen at the start of the chapter. The theme is Fanny's growth, both good and bad, as a character. ”Nothing was in their right place,” claims Fanny, “nothing was done as it ought to be” (361). With this one sentence, the reader can see a big difference between the current Fanny and the one at the beginning. For example, at the start of the book Fanny is treated poorly, especially by Mrs. Norris (14). Fanny, however, does not respond with ill contempt. Instead, she carries it all inside, acting polite and taking it in stride despite how much the others' actions affect her (15). This attitude, however, greatly differs from how Fanny is treating her family. She speaks about them as if they are below her. “She could not”, she continues, “respect her parents, as she had hoped” (361). Looking at these two lines, Fanny can not respect her immediate family because they are without order. This thought process is the same as those at Mansfield held. Those at Mansfield treated her as if she were a simple commoner. Having grown accustomed to her life style, she has begun to think of her family in the same way as those at Mansfield thought of her at first.
The theme can be seen quite clearly in how Fanny describes her family. She describes her father as having “only a general impression of roughness and loudness; and now he scarcely ever noticed her, but to make her the object of a coarse joke” (361). She continues on to describe her mother in an equally poor manner:
Her disappointment in her mother was greater; there she had hoped much, and found absolutely nothing...Mrs. Price was not unkind–but, instead of gaining on her affection and confidence, and becoming more and more dear, her daughter never met with great kindness from her, than on the first day of arrival. (361)
Fanny adds insult to injury when she compares her mother to Mrs. Norris, claiming that “Mrs. Price very much resembled Lady Bertram than Mrs. Norris” (361). According to Fanny, both of her parents are neglectful, uncaring of all of their children. Her father is a drunk, while her mother is, while not cruel, sees her daughters of little to care about, but is fond of her sons (361). The problem with this description is that, as the reader, one can not be sure as to whether this is an apt description of her parents or is filled...