Miss Crawford, you play the harp. Do you know whether the Misses Owen are, any of them, musical?
"That is the first question, you know," said Miss Crawford, trying to appear gay and unconcerned, "which every woman who plays herself is sure to ask about another. But it is very foolish to ask questions about any young ladies — about any three sisters just grown up; for one knows, without being told, exactly what they are — all very accomplished and pleasing, and one very pretty. There is a beauty in every family. — It is a regular thing. Two play on the piano-forte, and one on the harp — and all sing — or would sing if they were taught — or sing all the better for not being taught — or something like it."Having come to the end of the novel, I realize that the amusing bits of dialogue I've posted are likely to mislead. Though a comedy ("happy ending"), Mansfield Park is a dark novel, encompassing despair, greed, infidelity, isolation, poverty, and (at a great distance) slavery. Troubling too is the novel's emphasis, in its strange final chapter, on contingency: while giving the reader the anticipated ending, the narrator also points out that nothing that has happened had to have happened — the characters' lives might have been worked out in other, equally satisfactory ways.
From Mansfield Park (1814)
A Jane Austen character speaks
A second Jane Austen character speaks
A third Jane Austen character speaks
A fourth Jane Austen character speaks