Maria Bertram

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Maria Bertram
Michelle Ryan as Maria Bertram in the ITV drama)|Mansfield Park]]
Age13 at the beginning of the novel, about 21 at the end
EducationBy governess, Miss Lee
RankDaughter of a Baronet
Primary residenceMansfield Park; after her marriage, Sotherton Court; after her divorce, somewhere in the countryside with her aunt Norris
Romantic interest(s)Mr. Rushworth and Henry Crawford
ParentsSir Thomas Bertram and Lady Maria Bertram
Sibling(s)Thomas Bertram, Edmund Bertram, Julia Bertram

Maria Bertram is a fictional character in Jane Austen's 1814 novel, Mansfield Park.


Maria Bertram is the eldest daughter and third child in a wealthy family that owns the large country estate, Mansfield Park. Her father, Sir Thomas Bertram, is a baronet. She has two older brothers and one sister a year younger than herself. She grows up treated with stern distance by her father, kindly ignored by her indolent, self-centred mother, but spoiled and indulged by her Aunt Norris. When she is thirteen, her family brings a poor ten year-old cousin, Fanny Price, to live with them. She has little interest in Fanny and treats her with condescension, giving Fanny the toys of the least value to herself. She mocks Fanny for her ignorance and reports on Fanny's apparent deficiencies to her Aunt Norris. When she grows to adulthood, she is considered in the county to be a great beauty. Her attitude towards Fanny is little improved.

Maria and Mr. Rushworth[edit]

When Sir Thomas goes to Antigua to attend to problems on his plantations, Maria, being at the age to marry, is introduced by Aunt Norris to a young man named Mr. Rushworth. Although Mr. Rushworth is neither intelligent nor handsome, he does have a large estate of 700 acres and is worth about 12,000 pounds per annum, Maria, eager to escape her parental home, agrees to his proposal.

Maria and Mr. Crawford[edit]

Immediately after Maria's engagement to Mr. Rushworth, a young man named Henry Crawford comes to the neighbourhood with his sister, Mary. Because Maria has no real affection for Mr. Rushworth, she does not scruple to flirt with Henry, and she also befriends Mary. Henry also favours her over her unattached younger sister, Julia, even though (or perhaps because) her engagement makes her unavailable, Julia, too, is attracted to Crawford. This puts Maria and her sister in competition with one another. When Henry leaves without proposing to her, she insists on going through with her marriage to Mr. Rushworth, partly out of disappointment and partly to escape her stifling home life. She goes to Brighton on her honeymoon, taking Julia with her, and from there the party proceeds to Mr. Rushworth's new London home.

Maria's disgrace[edit]

In London, Maria encounters Henry and their flirtation begins anew. It proceeds to an affair, which becomes publicly known. The two elope, bringing shame to her family and disgrace on her. In fear, Julia also elopes and marries Mr. Yates. Henry, predictably, refuses to marry Maria, and Mr. Rushworth divorces her for adultery. She moves to "another country" (another rural area of England) with her Aunt Norris and they live together financially supported by Sir Edmund.

Notable portrayals[edit]