It has been twenty-one years since Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park hit the big screen. Well, sort of. Her statement on the film was that it is “not a Jane Austen film. It’s a Patricia Rozema film.” In framing it this way, she believed that the plot of Mansfield Park could be used as the framework for an artistic expression that incorporated social and political issues that Austen herself only hinted at in the novel. It is through that lens that we approach today’s trivia challenge.
- Which two actors or actresses in Mansfield Park were related in real life?
- Besides Jane Austen’s Novel, what other source material was incorporated into the screenplay of Mansfield Park?
- Which English College was used as a filming location in Mansfield Park? Bonus point: Which scene?
- What is the name of the instrument that was played as a duet by Maria and Julia Bertram?
- Along with the overt theme of the slave trade, another, more close-to-home subtext of enslavement was woven into the screenplay. Who was the subject of the subtext?
- One of the cast members has been in three adaptations of Austen novels, two of which were Mansfield Park. Who was it?
- Was Mansfield Park a successful novel in Jane Austen’s lifetime?
- How long were the doves released in the fireworks display left in Charlestown, Cornwall seen around town after filming.
- Two cast members from Mansfield Park (1999) went on to play leading roles in the BBC series Downton Abbey. Name one of them.
- In the screenplay, elements of Jane Austen’s life were superimposed on which character?
Enough with the questions! How do you think you did on the challenge? Read on to check your answers.
10.) Surprise! Mansfield Park was Austen’s best seller. Mansfield Park was Jane Austen’s most successful novel in her lifetime, earning her in excess of £300. Although modern readers often complain the about the novel with Fanny Price, in particular, drawing criticism, Mansfield Park was popular with the reading public when it was released. The first print edition published in 1814 was completely sold out within six months. The second run in 1816 was similarly successful, also selling out.
9.) A reflection of Jane Austen. In this adaptation, Fanny Price’s character was expanded in the screenplay to be an extension of her creator, incorporating multiple events and aspects of Jane Austen’s life into the narrative. Examples include such things as her being a writer from early youth and accepting a proposal only to change her mind the next day.
8.) The Downton connection. In Mansfield Park, Hugh Bonneville played the role as the wealthy but oafish Mr. Rushworth. The actor Charles Edwards was Mr. Yates, Tom Bertram’s troublemaking friend in Mansfield Park. Fast forward thirteen years and the two actors are cast together once again in the third and fourth seasons of the BBC production of Downton Abbey. This time, Bonneville is the wealthy aristocrat, Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham while Edwards is Edith’s married suitor, Michael Gregson, in Downton Abbey. Bonneville = rich guy, Edwards = bringer of scandal.
7.) Is Fanny Price a plagiarist? The credits at the beginning of the film inform the viewer that the source material for the novel is not limited to the novel itself, but also includes her letters and early journals.
Although the opening credits don’t specify Austen’s Juvenilia it is clear that when Fanny introduces her History of England, the reference is to Jane Austen’s work of the same name which is included in the juvenilia category.
6.) What exactly is an armonica? I’m so glad you asked. There is a scene, slightly blurred by obscure glass, where Maria and Julia Bertram are playing a duet on an instrument you can’t quite see. They are playing a glass armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin. The instrument operates on the same principle of tonal vibration as the wine-glass music you’re probably familiar with. The armonica uses precisely sized pieces of glass nested together on a rod and arranged in a musical scale sequence. It is played with moistened fingertips as the glass spins.
5.) Art imitates life. The actresses who play Fanny and Susan Price when they are young are Hannah Taylor Gordon, as Fanny, and Talya Gordon, as Susan. The quiet sisterly connection was no act, as they are sisters in real life.
4.) Mansfield Park’s magnificent library. While many historic stately homes do feature fantastic libraries, in Mansfield Park, the library at Eton College was used as the location where the library scene between Fanny Price and Henry Crawford was filmed.
3.) More than one type of slavery. Alongside the overt messaging about the evils of slavery in general and specifically on the Bertram plantation Antigua, a subtext of related to the enslavement Fanny Price is woven throughout the film. Her position as a second-class member of the family, often subjugated to a role of servitude, particularly by her Aunt Norris, is overt enough to lead a viewer to infer that Fanny’s ofttimes timid demeanor is the result of this treatment.
2.) Next time, try homing pigeons. In a grand gesture designed to win over Fanny Price, Henry Crawford, played by Allessandro Nivola, delivers a fireworks display to her front door. You can watch the impressive scene in the video below. The problem was that after they were released, the 200 doves could not be recovered and were left behind by the film crew. These domesticated birds were unable to fend for themselves against the native seagulls. A kind-hearted woman fed them for at least eight years.
1.) From brother to love interest. Jonny Lee Miller, who plays Edmund Bertram in the 1999 film adaptation of Mansfield Park, was also seen as the eight-year-old Charles Price, one of Fanny’s rambunctious younger brothers, in the 1983 production of the same work. In his third role as an Austen character, he portrays Mr. Knightly in Emma (2009).
Answers: 1.) Young Fanny and Young Susan 2.) Juvenilia 3.) Eton College. The library. 4.) Armonia 5.) Fanny Price 6.) Jonny Lee Miller. 7.) Yes. 8.) Eight Years 9.) Hugh Bonneville (Rushworth) and Charles Edwards (Yates) 10.) Fanny Price.
Well, how did you do? Please let us know in the comments, and if you have some additional trivia to share, let’s hear it!