Fanny’s last feeling in the visit was disappointment: for the shawl which Edmund was quietly taking from the servant to bring and put round her shoulders was seized by Mr. Crawford’s quicker hand, and she was obliged to be indebted to his more prominent attention. The Narrator, Chapter 25
Sir Thomas notices that Henry is paying particular attention to Fanny as they dine at the parsonage. Henry visits Thornton Lacey, Edmund’s pending parish, and would like to improve the parsonage and live there himself. This talk reminds Mary of Edmund’s looming ordination. Sir Thomas will host a ball in Fanny and William’s honor at Mansfield. Fanny receives two gifts of chains for her amber cross. Which one should she wear? Fanny realizes that Edmund is seriously in love with Mary. Mary tells Edmund that she does not dance with clergymen in a last attempt to dissuade him from his profession. Fanny thinks “in spite of everything, that a ball was indeed delightful.” William departs for London with Henry. Henry returns informing Fanny that William has been promoted to lieutenant by his hand through his uncle the Admiral. She is delighted, until he proposes marriage. She will not accept, even though Sir Thomas drills and badgers her for reasons, condemning her as “Self-willed, obstinate, selfish, and ungrateful”. Fanny is wretched and miserable and made to speak to Henry one last time.
Everyone notices Fanny at last! She has matured into a beautiful young woman and is being invited to visit the parsonage and dine, much to the amazement of her aunt’s who can only wonder why anyone would want Fanny, and lecture her on her manners and deportment. On reflection, it is really Mrs. Norris’ repeated putdowns that established her lowly position in the Mansfield household. If Lady Bertram’s passive indifference had been only the reverse, Fanny’s life and outlook could have been so much different. By nature she was a shy child, but a positive environment could have drawn her out. Mary Crawford seems to be her complete opposite in temperament and attitudes. I was struck by this telling quote.
“There, I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me. I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it.” Mary Crawford, Chapter 25
And she is playing her game to win Edmund’s heart and persuade him to change his profession like a master. It seems in every one of their meeting, she is working away at his resolve in pursuit of her goal. He is charmed by her spell, blind to her faults, and ready to forgive her by rationalizing her indecorous behavior by blaming her upbringing. One wonders what kind of minister he will make if he does not read personalities or see human failings so easily? The one question that he deliberates over and over is, does she love him enough to give up her essentials to happiness, – money and freedom. He doubts it, but continues in his delusion all-the-same. I can not think of two people so far apart on principles and life goals than Mary and Edmund. Today, they would definitely fail one of those compatibility tests that young couples take before they marry! My heart went out to Fanny though when she truly understands how much in love with Mary he is.
He was gone as he spoke; and Fanny remained to tranquillise herself as she could. She was one of his two dearest- that must support her. But the other: the first! She had never heard him speak so openly before, and though it told her no more than what she had long perceived, it was a stab, for it told of his own convictions and views. They were decided. He would marry Miss Crawford. The Narrator, Chapter 27
My greatest surprise is in Henry Crawford! Has the callous cad found principles and virtues from his nearness to Fanny? If so, she may deserve sainthood! Ha! He has undergone such a material change from rogue to gallant savior with his attentions, manner and proclamations of his honorable intensions to Fanny, that I am all amazement.
“I care neither what they say nor what they feel. They will now see what sort of woman it is that can attach me, that can attach a man of sense. I wish the discovery may do them any good. And they will now see their cousin treated as she ought to be, and I wish they may be heartily ashamed of their own abominable neglect and unkindness. They will be angry,” Henry Crawford, Chapter 30
His timing with his offer of marriage to Fanny is off though, and blew my slight softening to him. Helping Fanny’s brother William to obtain a promotion was a sly manipulation to win her gratitude which she graciously bestowed. Never-the-less, how little he truly knows the woman that he wants to marry, judging her against other women of his acquaintance such as Julia and Maria who would have succumbed to his ploy and accepted him without hesitation. Our Fanny Price has principles and can not be bought or badgered by her uncle into submission. Bravo Fanny!
Mansfield Park Madness: Day 9 Give-away
Leave a comment to by August 30 qualify for the free drawing on August 31 for one copy of.
Mansfield Park: Barnes & Noble Classics
Barnes & Noble (2005). Revised edition. Novel text and introduction and notes by Amanda Claybaugh. Hardcover, 427 pages, ISBN 978-1593083564
Day 10 – Aug 24 MP 1999 movie discussion
Day 11 – Aug 25 MP Oxford book review
Day 12 – Aug 26 MP novel discussion chapters 33-40
Day 13 – Aug 27 MP 2007 movie discussion