An Aristotelian Approach to Jane Austen's Mansfield Park


Authors
Katherine Guin
Florida State University
Abstract
Many argue that Jane Austen's novels exemplify a distinctly Aristotelian view of ethics. In An Aristotelian Approach to Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, I argue that Austen presents the development of Mansfield Park's protagonist, Fanny Price, as well as the other young people in the novel in terms of characteristically-Aristotelian understandings of virtue, character, and habituation. To demonstrate this, I draw primarily from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics to analyze characters and events from Mansfield Park. For instance, I argue that Jane Austen's criticisms of marriage from wrong motives parallel Aristotle's own criticisms of friendships for utility and for pleasure. Interestingly, Mansfield Park both clarifies and lends support to Aristotle's ethical theory
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