Mansfield Park – A New Ending?

466px-Leighton-Till_Death_Do_Us_Part-1878This weekend was Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s Mansfield Park talk at our Washington Romance Writers meeting. As it always is with Kathy, the talk was intelligent, stimulating, instructive, and enjoyable.

In the morning we discussed what didn’t work for us in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, some of the same things I talked about in the blog last week. In the afternoon we speculated about alternate endings.

Some Alternatives

Mary Crawford is reformed and marries Edmund

Henry Crawford is reformed and marries Fanny

Tom is reformed and marries Susan, Fanny’s sister

The basic idea was that the flawed characters were more interesting than the wholly good Fanny or the easily besotted Edmund and that we like to see flawed characters change and be redeemed.

What Would You Change?

This got me thinking about other books or movies that deserve an alternate ending. The main one that comes to mind for me is Little Women. I always wanted Jo to wind up with Laurie. It still bugs me.

What books or movie endings would you change? Gone With The Wind? Wuthering Heights? Almost anything by Nicholas Sparks?


About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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13 Responses to Mansfield Park – A New Ending?

  1. HJ says:

    I do so agree with you about Little Women. I’m sure that’s why I haven’t re-read it since I was a child, and don’t remember it with fondness. Bearing in mind that it’s an awfully long time since I read it, I don’t think the author did what she should have done to make that outcome credible, or acceptable given the other “moral” lessons in the book. Amy was a spoiled brat; why did she end up with the nicest most interesting boy? And we’re all made to love Jo, yet we have to accept that she’s made absolutely miserable? And (although I suspect I’m straying into one of the sequels here) I was never convinced that she’d fall in love or be happy with her eventual husband, kindly and nice though he was.

    Given the extent of my love for Persuasion, P&P and S&S, I’ve always felt guilty that I don’t care for Mansfield Park and that it took me years to finish Emma (and I still don’t like her). I can see that Fanny is perhaps true to life as a girl of her times – but then so is Mary Crawford, so why does Fanny have to be such a wet blanket and a doormat? As with Emma, I find it difficult to sympathise with her. And I’m afraid I don’t find Edmund’s eventual realisation that he loves her very convincing.

    • diane says:

      You are not alone in your thoughts about Mansfield Park! Edmund was considered a “problem hero.”

      And I agree completely about Little Women!!

  2. Elena Greene says:

    I feel that most stories are what they are; if I want to write something different, I write my own.

    My exception (only sort of) is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. When I first read it in my teens I wanted Eowyn to end up with Aragorn, because she was so much more interesting than Arwen. I know Tolkien purists may disagree (and that’s their right) but I like how the films handled it, not by changing the ending but increasing Arwen’s role so she became more of a character in her own right, not just Aragorn’s prize for winning back his kingdom. Same ending but a better way to get there.

    • diane says:

      I think that is another way to “fix” Mansfield Park. Tweak Fanny and Edmund so that there is a better way to get to the ending!

  3. Sara M. says:

    I’ve always wished “Jane Eyre” ended with Jane being happily independent with her fortune and taking no more crap from anyone. Maybe it’s just me, though, since a lot of people seem to like Rochester.

    Speaking of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, I would change that silly “the Ring must go to Osgiliath” scene at the end of “The Two Towers”. I mean, even if we’re supposed to accept that Faramir’s personality is a clone of his brother’s personality (the purist in me grumbles loudly), why take the ring to the most difficult place to defend? 😛

    • diane says:

      I’m not well versed at all on Lord of the Rings, but I wholeheartedly agree about Jane Eyre! I did not find Rochester to be a romantic hero. I thought he was unnecessarily cruel to Jane. Even when I was a kid and I read the book, I did not find him romantic in the least.

  4. Susan/DC says:

    Must admit that when I saw Gabriel Byrne as Professor Bhaer in the 1994 movie of Little Women, I thought that Jo may have got the better deal and was reconciled to her loss of Laurie. Otherwise, Marmee’s speech to Jo about why a Jo/Laurie relationship wouldn’t work (they were too alike) wasn’t quite enough for me, and I totally agree that Amy was a spoiled brat.

    • diane says:

      Well, Gabriel Byrne almost fixed it for me, too, but Christian Bale was a good Laurie. Until the end with that stupid facial hair that looked soooo fake.

  5. librarypat says:

    Totally off Regency here, but most stories and characters are what they are and we learn something from them about ourselves, the characters, and life. My complaint – stories about dogs. It always seems they are written to make you love them and then they die. There was a book, NO MORE DEAD DOGS by Gordon Korman, which dealt with this from a high school student’s view point. Yes, Scarlett was crushed when Rhett left her, but tomorrow is another day. Did they have to end Old Yeller by shooting the title character?

  6. Lil says:

    When I was 12, I wanted Jo to end up with Laurie, but as an adult I think Alcott’s ending is far more interesting. Laurie is fun, but lacks substance.
    As for Mansfield Park, I incline to think Edmund and Fanny deserve each other. I’d hate to see either of the Crawfords end up stuck with such bland drips. It would be like pairing champagne with gruel.

  7. I never understood why Jo couldn’t end up with Laurie. What is wrong with two people who are like-minded being together? Does it always have to be a case of opposites attract? Food for thought.

    And as for Mr. Sparks, don’t get me started! ANY ending would have to be better than his endings. The only book I thought ended well was The Notebook. I just don’t appreciate investing time and emotion in reading about a character only to have him or her killed off in the end. The man has got ISSUES!

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