Through Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park, Jane Austen views the social mores of her day and contemplates human nature itself. A shy and sweet-tempered girl adopted by wealthy relations, Fanny is an outsider looking in on an unfamiliar, and often inhospitable, world. But Fanny eventually wins the affection of her benefactors, endearing herself to the Bertram family and the reader alike.
In her Introduction, Carol Shields writes, [Mansfield Park's] overriding theme is difficult to isolate, since the novel is about everything it touches upon: nurturing, steadfastness, belonging and not belonging, about fine gradations of moral persuasion, about human noise and silence, and about action and stillness.
"Never did any novelist make more use of an impeccable sense of human values."