Blogs Don't Burn

My preferences are not important. Just look at what I've read, note what's lacking, and tell me to read it posthaste.

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

After reading Pride and Prejudice, my one real complaint with the book was the aggressively puritanical treatment of romance. While Austen has wit to spare, she conflates sexual promiscuity with selfishness and condemns it with no room for gray areas. While I understand approaching the social stigma of the actions taken by Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, and by Maria Bertram Rushworth in Mansfield Park realistically, I cannot excuse the unforgiving villainization of anyone who does not confine their sexuality within the bounds of marriage. While it does not stretch the boundaries of verisimilitude to have a character act in both a sexually promiscuous manner and live in self-absorption-- and even have the latter influence the former-- one cannot excuse Austen for not presenting her more sexual characters with greater compassion, even if it was the norm for her culture. Half of Austen’s appeal is her unremitting satirization of the pomposity of fashionable socialites. Why should there not be room to critique Georgian England’s treatment of sex as well, especially when Lord Byron would do it so well and so thoroughly a mere five years later in Don Juan?


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