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Tyrants, Lovers and Comedy in the Green Worlds of Mansfield Park and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • Inger S. B. Brodey
Chapter

Abstract

Several authors have noted the allusions to King Lear in Mansfield Park. This chapter does not dispute such reading, nor does it attempt to ascertain the degree to which Austen consciously cited Shakespeare. Instead, it complements these earlier studies by revisiting Mansfield Park through the eyes of a reader familiar with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Despite Mansfield Park’s explicit allusion to Shakespeare’s tragic and historic works, I suggest that there may be even deeper, if implicit, allusions to his comedy at work in the novel. In Mansfield Park, Austen alludes to the fickle emotions and wayward romances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and echoes its tortured courtship, competing rulers and self-consciously happy ending. Despite their differing historical contexts and genres, Austen and Shakespeare both portray the interchangeability of lovers and the fickle nature of romantic attachmentg in these works. Both artists combine tragic and comedic elements in their oeuvre to make an argument about the possibility of the harmonious resolution of romantic attachments within societal constraints. Through this lens it becomes apparent that Austen, like Shakespeare, is modelling a way in which to see the world.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inger S. B. Brodey
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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