Jane Austen, Foucault, Postcolonial, Domestic Retrenchment, Panoptical


Mansfield Park features one of Jane Austen's most unique heroines, Fanny Price. Though Fanny is painfully shy—almost to the point of becoming the audience to her own story—she manages, by the end of the novel, to gain everything she wanted while the rest of her adopted family falls apart into disgrace or reform. Some critics see this as proof of Fanny’s monstrosity while others read Fanny’s ascent as a reward for her principled nature. Using recent postcolonial readings of Mansfield Park with Michel Foucault’s theory of panoptical surveillance, my goal is to show how Fanny Price subverts the colonial authority of Sir Thomas Bertram to shift familial power into the domestic sphere. Borrowing from Clara Tuite’s reading of Mansfield Park as an example of domestic retrenchment, I will argue that Fanny repurposes her normative gaze to reinforce the power of the domestic space as the moral center of society.

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