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Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century NovelThe Scapegoat in English Realist Fiction$
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Michiel Heyns

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198182702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198182702.001.0001

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A Divided Community: Fanny Price and the Readers of Mansfield Park

A Divided Community: Fanny Price and the Readers of Mansfield Park

(p.50) Chapter 1 A Divided Community: Fanny Price and the Readers of Mansfield Park
Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Michiel Heyns

Oxford University Press

Mary Crawford's expulsion constitutes a simplified model of scapegoating, whereby the narrative requirement of closure demands the exclusion of such characters as threaten the desired equilibrium of the narrative community. This chapter charts the scapegoating process in terms of that narrative community that comes into being between reader and Jane Austen's narrative, Mansfield Park, as distinct from and privileged above the more or less complacent little societies in which their heroines live. The ‘organic, hierarchical, small community’ for which, according to Marilyn Butler, Austen's novels ‘speak’, is nevertheless all too often a community of fools, which it is the trick of her novels to expose as such without seeming to subvert it: the novels speak to a different community, party to all the essential discriminations implied or enacted in the novel. The reader, then, is privileged in having access both to the fictional community — Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram at Mansfield — and to the narrative community.

Keywords:   Mary Crawford, expulsion, scapegoating, narrative, community, Jane Austen, Fanny Price, Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park, novels

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