Lesson #225 (Part 2): Reviewing Expressions of Place and Movement (through Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’)

Welcome to Part 2 of this Lesson, where we have been looking at expressions of place and movement in English (mostly adverbs which English speakers use on a daily basis).


📘 ‘[Fanny] was again roused from disagreeable musings by sudden footsteps: somebody was coming at a quick pace down the principal walk.’

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

In point 3 above, we saw how Austen used the expression ‘up the walk’. Like ‘up the walk’, ‘down the walk’ or ‘down the road, street, path, etc’ can be used to describe a journey taken over a short distance, close at hand.


📘 She expected Mr. Rushworth, but it was Julia [Maria’s sister and Fanny’s cousin], who, hot and out of breath, and with a look of disappointment, cried out on seeing her, “Heyday! Where are the others? I thought Maria and Mr. Crawford were with you.”

Fanny explained.

“A pretty trick, upon my word! I cannot see them anywhere,” looking eagerly into the park. “But they cannot be very far off, and I think I am equal to as much as Maria, even without help.”

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

far off: We can also say ‘far away’ in contexts like this.

The story continues: 📜 Julia, like her sister, is in love with Henry Crawford, and being jealous, she is in a hurry to catch up with them beyond the gate.

📝 #17 ACROSS

📘 ‘And [Julia] immediately scrambled across the fence, and walked away, not attending to Fanny’s last question of whether she had seen anything of Miss Crawford and Edmund.’

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

across: As an adverb this means ‘from one side to the other of an area, place, etc.’

The story continues: 📜 Fanny stays where she is, still expecting her cousin Edmund and friend Miss Crawford to return as they had said they would, when Mr Rushworth appears, out of breath and holding the key.

He is greatly disappointed, even hurt, to find out that his fiancée Maria didn’t wait for him to bring the key and has gone off walking with Henry Crawford.

Mr Rushworth sits down next to Fanny to catch his breath, complain, and decide what to do.


📘 ‘ “I do not believe I shall go any farther,” said [Mr Rushworth] sullenly; “I see nothing of them …” ‘

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

farther: This simply means ‘more distant’. It can be used interchangeably with ‘further’, although American English tends to use ‘farther’ to describe physical distances and ‘further’ to describe figurative distances. 🇺🇲

Meanwhile, most British English speakers now use ‘further’ more than ‘farther’ to mean the same thing: ‘more distant’. 🇬🇧


📘 ‘ “… By the time I get to the knoll they may be gone somewhere else …” ‘

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

✍️ I have suggested ‘elsewhere’ above as a synonym, since it means the same thing as ‘somewhere else’. ‘Somewhere else’ tends to be less formal than ‘elsewhere’. Both of them mean ‘in, at, or to some other place(s)’.


📘 ‘And he sat down with a most gloomy countenance by Fanny.’

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

by: We often think of ‘by’ as a preposition that identifies the person or thing that performed an action, or else that it indicates the means (‘via’) of completing some activity. But in the context above it is an adverb that can mean ‘next to’ or ‘beside’ (or even ‘going past’) something or someone.

The story continues: 📜 Fanny encourages him to open the gate and try to find them.


📘 “It is a pity you should not join them. They [Maria and Henry] expected to have a better view of the house from that part of the park, and will be thinking how it may be improved; and nothing of that sort, you know, can be settled without you.”

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)


📘 ‘Mr. Rushworth was worked on. “Well,” said he, “if you really think I had better go: it would be foolish to bring the key for nothing.” And letting himself out, he walked off without farther ceremony.’

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

walk off: It is difficult to pin down the precise meaning of this expression, since it basically means to walk away from something or someone in an energetic way. This could be on account of sadness, anger, resentment, or any other strong emotion; the context decides which one. But if you hear that someone ‘walked off the job’, this is a contemporary expression that means a person has left a job (because of a strike, in protest, because he/she quit, etc).


📘 Fanny’s thoughts were now all engrossed by the two [Edmund and Miss Crawford] who had left her so long ago, and getting quite impatient, she resolved to go in search of them. She followed their steps along the bottom walk, and had just turned up into another, when the voice and the laugh of Miss Crawford once more caught her ear; the sound approached, and a few more windings brought them before her.

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

along: As an adverb, ‘along’ means to move constantly on the edge or direction of something, usually on a horizontal surface. This is the meaning of ‘along’ in the sentence above. ‘Alongside‘ also has the same meaning, but is only used in relation to people or animals: e.g., ‘I walked alongside my brother …’

‘Along’ can also mean ‘in the company of others’: e.g., ‘feel free to bring along your friends to my party’.


📘 They [Edmund and Miss Crawford] were just returned into the wilderness from the park, to which a sidegate, not fastened, had tempted them very soon after their leaving her, and they had been across a portion of the park into the very avenue which Fanny had been hoping the whole morning to reach at last, and had been sitting down under one of the trees.

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)


📘 Fanny’s best consolation was in being assured that Edmund had wished for her very much, and that he should certainly have come back for her, had she not been tired already; but this was not quite sufficient to do away with the pain of having been left a whole hour, when he had talked of only a few minutes, nor to banish the sort of curiosity she felt to know what they had been conversing about all that time …

– Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (emphasis mine)

This may be the end of today’s reading, but if you ever read Mansfield Park for yourself, you will find that Fanny gradually returns to the centre of events at Mansfield Park. She is a quiet yet essential character who helps to restore peace and order in their home.

💡 I mentioned at the start of this Lesson that I would be sharing what could be the hidden meaning behind Austen’s symbolism in this passage.

We will finish here with an interpretation (explanation of the meaning of something) from literary critic and author Peter J. Leithart, which I find illuminating (helping to clarify and explain something better):

This farcical scene, which is made all the funnier by the fact that Fanny sits as a spectator through the whole, clearly foreshadows the coming disasters of Sotherton. Maria and Henry will ignore the restrictions of law and morality and run off together, they will crash the gate and make their way into the wilderness. Rushworth, the husband who should be the guardian, will be left standing, holding the key …

Austen wants our judgments about her characters to be shaped by the principles they display, not by their ability to charm. Charm deceives, and many are the critics who are taken in by it. Fanny’s weakness and immobility are also part of the point. She shares much with classic Christian heroines, like Constance in Chaucer’s “Man of Law’s Tale,” who are heroines of perseverance. …

Consistent with this perseverance, Fanny spends much of the novel in a single location, Mansfield Park, while many of the other characters come and go, and in several scenes Fanny sits in the center of a swirl of activity. This is not a fault. Her very immobility, her stillness in a world running after vanity, makes her a heroine.

Peter J. Leithart, Miniatures and Morals. Canon Press, Moscow, Idaho: 2004 (pp. 115-6; 133)

Well done for reaching the end of this Lesson. 📚 Happy reading!

by J. E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2024)