Maria Bertram

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Maria Bertram
Michelle Ryan as Maria Bertram in the Mansfield Park aired on PBS as "The Complete Jane Austen"
Full name Maria Elizabeth Bertram Rushworth
Gender Female
Height Taller than her cousin, Fanny Price, but no specific height is given
Age 13 at the beginning of the novel, about 21 at the end
Income After marriage to Mr. Rushworth, £12,000
Education By a governess, by the name of Miss Lee
Rank Daughter of a Baronet
Primary residence Mansfield 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
Parents Sir Thomas Bertram and Lady Maria Ward 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 sister and third child in a wealthy family that owns a large country estate. Her father is a baronet. She has two older brothers and one sister a year younger than herself. She grows up being treated with stern distance by her father, being ignored by her indolent mother, and being spoiled and indulged by her Aunt Norris, who covets the wealth and prestige of the Bertram family and the beauty and youth of Maria. When she is 13, her family brings a poor cousin to live with them, by the name of Fanny Price. 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 lack of knowledge and reports on Fanny's apparent deficiencies to her Aunt Norris. When she grows to adulthood, her attitude towards Fanny is not improved.

Maria and Mr. Rushworth[edit]

When Maria's father, Sir Thomas Bertram, goes to Antigua to improve the profits from his plantations, Maria, being at the age to marry, becomes engaged to a young man named Mr. Rushworth at the prompting of Aunt Norris. Although Mr. Rushworth is not very intelligent or handsome, Maria agreed to his proposal of marriage because his estate of 700 acres is worth about 12,000 pounds per annum, a very large sum at the time.

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 Crawford also favours her over her unattached younger sister Julia because her engagement makes her unavailable, although Julia, too, is attracted to Crawford and he flirts with her, too. This puts Maria and her sister in competition with one another. When Henry leaves without proposing marriage to Maria, she goes 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 and invites Julia, and from there the party proceeds to Mr. Rushworth's home in London.

Maria and Henry reunited[edit]

In London, Maria encounters Henry and their flirtation begins anew. It proceeds to an affair, which becomes publicly known such that the two must elope, bringing shame to her family and disgrace on her. In fear, Julia also elopes and marries Mr. Yates. Henry refuses to marry Maria, and Mr. Rushworth divorces her for adultery. She moves to "another country" (another area of England) with her Aunt Norris, who has always favoured her of all of her nieces, and they live together in disgraced retirement. When Mary refuses to condemn their actions, Edmund parts from her forever, and Henry's actions also mean that Fanny will never marry him.

Notable portrayals[edit]