"A creditable establishment": the irony of economics in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.




Sharren, Kandice

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This thesis contextualises Austen’s novel within the issues of political economy contemporary to its publication, especially those associated with an emerging credit economy. It argues that the problem of determining the value of character is a central one and the source of much of the novel’s irony: the novel sets the narrator’s model of value against the models through which the various other characters understand value. Through language that represents character as the currency and as a commodity in a credit economy, Mansfield Park engages with the problems of value raised by an economy in flux. Austen uses this slipperiness of language to represent social interactions as a series of intricate economic transactions, revealing the irony of social exchanges and the expectations they engender, both within and without the context of courtship.



austen, jane austen, mansfield park, credit, fanny price, early nineteenth-century economics, romanticism