Mansfield Park

The primary location of Mansfield Park is the Northamptonshire house and landed estate from which the novel takes its name. This is an imaginary place which used to be thought modelled on one or two estates to the north of Northampton where Jane Austen’s brother Henry had clients of his bank. The suggestions were made without any real conviction, the link being tenuous. A good suggestion for its location is offered by Stuart Wiltshire in his preface to the new Cambridge edition of the novel, locating it somewhere in the vicinity of Easton Maudit and Stoke Bruerne in south-east Northamptonshire. In Jane Austen's Geographies (Routledge 2018) I argue the location is that of Castle Ashby, seat of the Marquess of Northampton.
The most important geographical vectors in the novel are these:
1), the recuperation of Fanny Price, Sir Thomas Bertram's niece, from the poverty of her life in Portsmouth, and, much later, her being sent home again when she refuses the offer of marriage by Henry Crawford,
2), Sir Thomas’s trip to his Antigua plantation, opening the question of how much of the Mansfield estate is supported by revenues from slavery and sugar. This question has invited much critical attention since Edward Said made this dependency a central issue in his Culture and Imperialism (1993)
Apart from these two major vectors, the most notable geographical aspect of the novel is the contrast between the —stay-at-home— attitudes of those who live in Mansfield Park and the gadabout attitudes of Henry and Mary Crawford, Mr Yates and Tom Bertram, all of whom are characterized as pleasure-seeking, financially unreliable and lacking in respect for place and its responsibilities. Their journeys away from and back to Mansfield indicate their dependence on its location, and their inability to live with the honesty that staying put requires. Not that Mansfield is a —great good place— which exemplifies the best in aristocratic paternalism, as do Pemberley and Donwell Abbey: Mansfield is infected with reductive concern for economic values and a moral insensitivity, as can be seen in the behaviour of Sir Thomas, his daughters Maria and Julia, and Mrs Norris. However, Mansfield does hold out the prospect of amelioration, once under the moral guidance of Fanny and Edmund.