Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
While Sir Thomas is in residence, the estate is a model of order and dignity, the beau ideal of a noble family seat. However, a flaw appears when the death of Mr. Norris coincides with the extravagant behavior of Tom, Sir Thomas’s older son. To cover this son’s debts, Sir Thomas must dispose of the estate to outsiders, the Grants, instead of holding it until his younger son is ordained. The Grants’ arrival opens the rectory doors (and hence, those of Mansfield) to their young relatives, the Crawfords. As this attractive but fundamentally cynical and corrupt pair begin to destabilize Mansfield Park, Sir Thomas must travel to Antigua to see to his properties there. An offstage presence in the story, Antigua hints at further disturbance of a basically conservative social order.
The Mansfield young people are talked into converting a room of the manor into a stage for amateur theatricals. Only Fanny is convinced that Sir Thomas would find this unacceptable; even Edmund, the most moral of the Bertram children, is swayed by the enthusiasm of the teasing Mary Crawford. Mrs. Norris, in charge owing to Lady Bertram’s indolence, indulges her nieces in rehearsing a play that encourages dangerous flirtations.
Sotherton. Family estate of Mr. Rushworth, Maria Bertram’s dull but wealthy fiancé, which is visited by a party from Mansfield Park. Approached through a long avenue of oak trees, the house, which has its own family chapel, is substantial but fairly modern and not very interesting. Its grounds include a bowling green and a long terraced walk, but beyond the formal parkland lies “a nice little wood,” in which shady serpentine paths overlook a sunken fence. There, a tired Fanny is forgotten as Edmund and Mary explore among the trees and Maria disappears with Henry Crawford. While Austen’s writings are rarely heavily symbolic, this locale surely underlines the moral wilderness into which most of the principal characters are plunging.
*Portsmouth. Port city on England’s southern coast to which Fanny is sent to stay at her parents’ home after she rejects Henry Crawford’s proposal of marriage. Sir Thomas hopes the contrast between the serenity and order of Mansfield Park and the squalor of a lower-middle-class home in the great naval port city will cause her to rethink her decision.
Price house. Portsmouth home of Fanny’s parents. The house is small, untidy, and full of ragged, dirty, and rude children. Its walls are thin, and it is an “abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety.” Austen makes no simplistic pairing of wealth with corruption and poverty with innocence. If Mansfield Park has become somewhat tainted, Portsmouth is altogether coarse and gross, failing even to recognize standards of harmony and restraint that one may be unable to meet perfectly. Although the Price house is disagreeable physically and disappointing emotionally, Fanny is able to control her desire to return to Mansfield Park until all the social couplings have been sorted out appropriately, and she is in a strong position to refuse Henry Crawford again. She eventually marries her cousin Edmund and installs the most trainable of her younger sisters as Lady Bertram’s resident niece and errand girl at the estate, which will be in good hands in the future.