Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mansfield Park and the Purgatorio

This thematic link between Austen and Dante can be explored by using the vocabulary of the Purgatorio to describe disordered love in Mansfield Park. Like the former, the latter represents a variety of disordered loves in the principal characters. The Purgatorio divides these loves into three categories: perverted love, defective love, and excessive love. Pride, envy, and wrath, are perverted loves, and, to various degrees, Sir Thomas, but especially Maria, Julia, Henry, and Mary represent these vices. By her sloth, Lady Bertram represents defective love. Hers is a will too weak or lazy to pursue the good. Excessive love includes avarice, prodigality, gluttony, and lust. Mrs. Norris has an excessive love of money, or avarice, while Tom's wasteful spending and dissipation demonstrate his prodigality. Furthermore, Maria's adultery with Henry, which continues for an extended period of time after their initial flight, reveals the way in which the perverted loves of pride, envy, and wrath can so affect the will that it loses the power to curb wrong desires; they then become excessive desires such as lust.

Joyce Kerr Tarpley, Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, p. 137. (It should be noted that Tarpley is not arguing for a historical connection, but that the ethical lay of the land in both cases is fairly similar, because they are both concerned with virtue, share certain Christian ideas, and link the pursuit of beauty with the pursuit of virtue and the pursuit of happiness.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.