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Hanly, M.A. (2005). Submission, inhibition and sexuality: Masochistic character and psychic change in Austen's Mansfield Park. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):483-501.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):483-501

Submission, inhibition and sexuality: Masochistic character and psychic change in Austen's Mansfield Park

Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly

Mansfield Park is Austen's most controversial novel. ‘Squarely taking on such issues as class, gender, sexuality, religion, education, theatricality, and colonialism, Mansfield Park now appears to occupy a more critical place in Austen's canon and in literary and cultural history generally than that perennial favorite, Pride and prejudice’ (Johnson, 1998, p. xiii). Austen's heroine, Fanny Price has generated heated controversy because of the provocative contradictions in her character, which this paper argues tally with the psychoanalytic understanding of moral masochism within the masochistic character. As a child neglected at home and then sent to a frightening new environment, in which she was lowest and last, Fanny Price needed the love and protection even of those who mistreated her. She needed to control and influence them with submission and the inhibition of her aggressive impulses and through a vigilant scrupulousness. Austen created a plot in which she also dramatized the seeds of change that lie within the submissive character, within the repressed and inhibited psychosexual desire linked to the father which can drive the reemergence of wishes for love and satisfaction in situations of relative safety.

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