Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Mansfield Park Madness

Mansfield Park Chapters 33-40: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 12 Give-away!

THE NOVEL

He was in love, very much in love; and it was a love which, operating on an active, sanguine spirit, of more warmth than delicacy, made her affection appear of greater consequence because it was withheld, and determined him to have the glory, as well as the felicity, of forcing her to love him. The Narrator on Henry Crawford, Chapter 33 

Quick Synopsis 

Henry persists in his quest for Fanny’s hand. Sir Thomas solicits Edmunds help, who attempts to discern what Fanny’s doubts are. He insists it was Henry’s abrupt delivery. She tells him she can not love a man of such unprincipled character. Everyone at Mansfield and the parsonage know of Henry’s proposal and in their own way try to chisel away at Fanny’s resolve. William visits on leave. Sir Thomas sees an opportunity for Fanny to see the difference that a good income can bring, and sends her home to her impoverished family in Portsmouth. Anxious to be with people who love her, the household, her parents and her siblings are a shock, and the complete opposite of her tranquil, ordered, and quiet home at Mansfield Park. Sister Susan shows some interest in improving herself and gives Fanny some hope. Edmund is more in love with Mary than ever, visiting her in London. Fanny dreads the post, fearful of what news it will bring. 

Musings 

After Fanny’s rejection of Henry’s offer of marriage, I am amazed at what lengths everyone takes to change her indifference to him. No one honors her decision and proceed to create excuses why she declined. Sir Thomas encourages Henry to continue his pursuit, which he does relentlessly, even though she shows him no encouragement at all. Having always won a ladies heart, he is both invigorated by her rejection and certain he will succeed. (conceited lout) Sir Thomas increases the pressure by telling his wife Lady Bertram and her sister Mrs. Norris of Henry’s proposal. They have opposite reactions; Lady Bertram thinks it an honor to her family to attract such a wealthy and handsome suitor, and Mrs. Norris takes it as an insult to her niece Julia who they all wanted Henry to marry from the beginning. 

Angry she (Mrs. Norris) was: bitterly angry; but she was more angry with Fanny for having received such an offer than for refusing it. It was an injury and affront to Julia, who ought to have been Mr. Crawford’s choice; and, independently of that, she disliked Fanny, because she had neglected her; and she would have grudged such an elevation to one whom she had been always trying to depress. The Narrator, Chapter 33 

I has stunned and disappointed in Edmund’s part in the interrogations, working away at his friend Fanny on behalf of his father. His actions hurt her the most since he was her mentor and only friend at Mansfield Park up until Mary Crawford corrupted him. All of his conversation now is tainted by her influence. When Edmund insists that he knows the truth of the rejection based on her surprise alone, I am angry at his arrogance and appalled that he suggests she should now let Henry succeed, and show everyone that she is the “perfect model of a woman which I have always believed you born for” Outrageous attitude from any friend, let alone a minister of the church. Where have his principles gone? I admire Fanny’s tenacity. She knows her mind and her own temperament. She explains that she and Henry are too different in nature to be happy together and does not waver from her position. Edmund, more than anyone in her circle should honor her wish to marry for love alone since his heart is also strongly inclined to the same desire, even though he has struggled against the unsuitability of his attachment to Mary Crawford for almost the entire novel! 

On his (Edmund) side the inclination was stronger, on hers less equivocal. His objections, the scruples of his integrity, seemed all done away, nobody could tell how; and the doubts and hesitations of her ambition were equally got over-and equally without apparent reason. It could only be imputed to increasing attachment. His good and her bad feelings yielded to love, and such love must unite them. The Narrator, Chapter 37 

The final wedge in an attempt to break Fanny’s spirit is Sir Thomas’ banishment of her to Portsmouth. His private plan is to let her see the difference that a good income can mean to her comfort, and motivate her to accept Henry Crawford with all his gentility and wealth. At first she sees it as a refuge from the pressures at Mansfield, and a benefit to be with family who truly love her, but after being reunited she soon discovers the disparity of the two households. Her parents, her siblings and their impoverished lifestyle are a quite a shock to a young lady who has become accustomed to living in the home of a Baronet. The noise, squalor and the indifference of her parents to her cruelly remind her of the peace, tranquility and order at her home, Mansfield Park. William departs for sea, and with no friend left in the world to support her, she is truly alone. Fearful of the pending news from London of Edmund and Mary’s engagement she waits for the other shoe to drop. Even under these adverse circumstances, our heroine is still optimistic. 

Fanny soon became more disposed to admire the natural light of the mind which could so early distinguish justly, than to censure severely the faults of conduct to which it led. The Narrator, Chapter 40 

With so much romantic turmoil in these last eight chapters, I am more than a bit uneasy with the uncertainty. Austen is building to a climax and I am all anticipation. We shall see if everyone ends up with who they love, or don’t know they love, and who gets their comeuppance. I have never known her to cheat us out of a wedding or two at the end, or a bit of moralizing for those unruly characters who stirred up the plot. One can never be certain though until the curtain falls on this theatrical.   

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library

Cast of characters

Chapter 33-40 summary

Chapter 33-40 quotes and quips 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 12 Give-away 

Leave a comment to by August 30 qualify for the free drawing on August 31 for one copy of.

Mansfield Park: Oxford World’s Classics

Oxford University Press (2008). Revised edition. Novel text and introduction and notes by Jane Stabler. Trade paperback, 418 pages, ISBN 978-0199535538 

Upcoming posts
Day 13 – Aug 27          MP 2007 movie discussion
Day 14 – Aug 28          MP novel discussion chapter 41-48
Day 15 – Aug 29          MP: Sequels, Spinoff’s and Retellings
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: The Scoop! What People Are Saying

11 thoughts on “Mansfield Park Chapters 33-40: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 12 Give-away!”

  1. I just discovered both this blog and these specific posts on Mansfield Park, and I have to say, I’m quite impressed! :) I look forward to more regular reading as a subscriber.

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  2. ” but she was more angry with Fanny for having received such an offer than for refusing it.”
    Probably one of her most unfair comments.
    Fanny sent to Portsmouth by Sir Thomas can of course be compared to Catherine’s banishment from Northanger Abbey – not rich enough in both cases (the first because of a marriage she refuses).
    It’s surprising most people think Jane never described poverty – she did. I think that more than a different setting, it really provides Fanny with a comparison between her aunt Bertram’s fate and her own mother’s. They were sisters, and Mrs Bertram married into money as opposed to her sister : by refusing Henry, Fanny’s closer to her mother than perhaps ever before at this point. They’re both banished from Mansfield Park because of their choice in men.

    How horrible to know that marriage has such weight in Austen’s world. I agree with Deirdre le Faye (in Jane Austen : the world of her novels) “I do” was truly like saying “I am”

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  3. I think you are being a bit hard on Henry and Sir Thomas. Edmund is stupid no doubt about it, but Sir Thomas and Henry is in my opinion not acting so very bad. It’s several times explained that Fanny is so very shy that she simply does not say no in a manner that Henry understands. Yes Henry is being dense, but he really believe that while she might not love him, it’s not impossible that she will. As for Sir Thomas looking at things from his point of view I can understand why he acts as he does. He has only met Henry while he was interested in Fanny and consequently acted in a way to attract Fanny. He’s rich, intelligent, funny, interested in the right things and seems to love Fanny. Considering the very poor conditions Fanny’s parents live in, it’s not completely unreasonable to think that she should marry him even if she doesn’t love him. Not only does Henry have just the right connections to help her brothers he also have enough money to maybe help some of her sisters too. This is what Sir Thomas is probably seeing and sending her of to see her parents and siblings is maybe not such a bad idea if the point is to show her how her parents live now and what she could do to help. (In case anyone is wondering I really don’t like Henry)

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  4. i agree, kiragade, sir henry is acting (or at least believes he is acting) in fanny’s best interests. it’s all about the money, after all. she’s the poor relation and it would lift his burden if she married well, and it would, in fact, improve ALL their lives, would it not? after all, fanny has always been about doing good and wouldn’t make her a good person to help everyone else?

    no, i don’t agree with that, but i see the point being made. at least fanny seems to have discovered her spine.

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  5. I love Austen and regularly re-read almost all the novels except for (dare I say it) Mansfield Park. But these posts are inspiring me. I think it’s time I read it again. If past history proves true, I will likely fall as completely in love with it as I have Austen’s other work. A happy thought indeed!

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  6. I agree with everyone here that this focus here on Mansfield Park has helped me to appreciate the novel. I will also add it to my re-read list more often as I do with the other Jane Austen novels.

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  7. I think the worst person describe in this section is Aunt Norris. Almost everyone is rejoicing of Henry’s proposal to Fanny except Aunt Norris who always puts her in her place and treats her like a servant. I do feel that Sir Thomas is a bit harsh to send Fanny back to Porstmouth but I do agree with ren that Sir Thomas is acting in Fanny’s and her family’s best interest. However, no one understands Fanny’s reasons for declining the proposal at all and her mentor, Edmund is not helping her which makes Fanny lonely as ever.

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  8. I can completely understand that Fanny may be feeling betrayed by Edmund – he persists in trying to get her to do the wrong thing (in her own opinion) when he’s supposedly the person who knows her best and whom she likes the best!
    I’m so frustrated at Edmund. *sigh*

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  9. Hello Mansfield Park Madness participants day 12

    Well, the book is progressing along, and I am really enjoying all of your wonderful comments, which really help me to see how others are interpreting it also.

    M – welcome. I’m glad you found us, please come back.

    Sibylle – Fanny’s banishment to Portsmouth is as eye opening for me as her. We never know how good we have it until it is gone, right?

    Kiragade & Ren – I have never heard anyone defend Sir Thomas so well. You are right, he thinks that his authority and opinion is right, and that Fanny should accept Henry. But he also approved of Mr. Rushworth even though he doubted his worthiness, so their is some room for mistake there that Austen leaves for us to ponder.

    Beth & Felica – blush, I am so glad that you are inspired to read MP again. try an audio book. I love the Naxos version of MP read by Juliet Stevenson.

    Luthien84 – I doubt that anyone would dispute that Aunt Norris’s opinion is horrid. It shows how much she favors Maria and disfavors Fanny, who is only kindness.

    Laura – Edmund needs a good lashing in my view. Mary has corrupted him and changed his viewpoints for the worse.

    Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

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