Mansfield Park: Summary Chapters 33-40

Chapter 33

Sir Thomas promotes Henry’s continued pursuit for Fanny’s hand. They both think she will soften and change her mind. Having always won a ladies heart, he is both invigorated by her rejection and certain he will succeed.  Fanny gives him no indication that her feelings will change. Sir Thomas slyly removes his pressure from the situation and then proceeds to inform Mrs. Norris and Lady Bertram of Fanny’s offer. Mrs. Norris is angry because of the slight to Julia, and Fanny is unworthy of such an honor. Lady Bertram is gratified by the news, being a lady who values beauty and wealth, Henry’s offer confirms hat her family is handsome and connected to monied gentry. She tells Fanny to do her duty, which is the only advice that Fanny has ever received from her in eight and a half years.

Chapter 34

Edmund returns after a fortnight having extended his stay to avoid Mary learning that she has not departed for London as he had hoped. Edmund is told of William’s promotion and of Fanny’s offer of marriage by Henry. He favors his father’s view and is surprised that Fanny has refused him. Henry dines at Mansfield and Edmund detects no softening on Fanny’s side. Henry reads from Shakespeare to Lady Bertram and Fanny. Edmund sees that Fanny is moved by his speech. Lady Bertram complements him on his talent and recommends a theater at his estate of Everingham. Henry declines, reasoning that Fanny does not allow acting. Henry and Edmund discuss the art of reading aloud which Edmund states is even in neglect in his profession. Henry coaches him on his ministers service and Edmund hopes that seeing Henry be so congenial will win Fanny over. Henry states he admires the pulpit and making fine speeches and would like to be a clergyman who occasionally gives sermons. Fanny can not abide his inconstancy and shakes her head in disapprobation. Spurred on by Fanny’s reaction, he pounds her for reasons of his disapproving behavior. He must learn from her and mend his ways. 

Chapter 35

With Henry Crawford’s departure approaching, Sir Thomas hopes for one last push to convince Fanny to marry him and asks Edmund for assistance. Edmund earn her trust by reminding her that they have the same objective in not marrying without love. Fanny is comforted until he tells her that she will be the perfect model of a woman now if she lets Henry succeed in his pursuit. She must love him in gratitude. Fanny states that she and Henry do not share one thing in common. Edmund agrees that they are opposites, but the difference will complement each other. Fanny feels that even though their tempers are so different that she can not overlook his lack of character and uses the time of the play as an example. Edmund excuses his behavior, blaming Maria & Julia’s desire of his attentions, proving his love for her! Edmund credits his bad behavior to his education and couples his sister’s action with it, forgiving them both. He has seen Mary and her influence upon him is strong. She is angry at Fanny, protective of her brother and desirous of his happiness. Edmund still thinks that Fanny rejected Henry because it was such a surprise. Everyone is still angry with Fanny, but she does not waver. 

Chapter 36

Edmund tells his father that Fanny just needs more time to fall in love with Henry and to “submit quietly, and hope for the best.” The Crawford’s leave on Monday. Mary arrives at Mansfield requesting a private visit and Fanny. In the East room, Mary rhapsodizes about rehearsing for the play there with Edmund. She had never known such exquisite happiness in her life when “His sturdy spirit to bend as it did“! Mary exclaims that her purpose in coming was to scold her, but now can only love gentle Fanny. Mary relays her regrets to be leaving such trusting company at Mansfield, so different from people in town. Turning, she admonishes Fanny for her indifference to Henry. She does not know the power that Henry has over so many young ladies who will now be envious of her. Mary wonders at Fanny being clueless on Henry’s intensions since it was he who thought of giving her the necklace! Fanny is shocked and upset at having been taken in by their scheme. Aware of his attentions, she thought it only his way after witnessing his actions there last fall. Mary admits he is a sad flirt, caring nothing for the feelings of others, but sees that this gives Fanny the “power to pay off the debts of one’s sex”, because no woman can refuse such a triumph! But he truly loves her, as he has loved no other. Mary plays her last guilt card on Fanny reminding her of Henry’s help in securing William’s promotion. She departs and in turn Henry arrives for dinner, is evidently oppressed, eats and departs. The Crawford leave on the morrow.

Chapter 37

Sit Thomas is still hopeful that Fanny will have a change of heart for Henry. Edmund continues as his eyes and ears on the progress, but no change is evident. Edmund and Fanny are affected by Mary’s absence; he is surprised that Fanny does not miss her, she that Edmund does. “Her acceptance must be as certain as his offer” William arrives on a ten-day leave. Sir Thomas wants Fanny to return to her family in Portsmouth to “teach her the value of a good income“, and Edmund agrees with the plan. Fanny is over-joyed to be again within a circle who love her. Mrs. Norris is inspired by their plan and wants to travel with them to see her sister. Fanny and William are horror-struck and relieved when she changes her mind because of expense. Edmund puts off his trip to London to visit Mary to “fix his happiness“, with Fanny’s absence. Edmund tells Fanny of his intension with Mary. Fanny sadly departs Mansfield Park for Portsmouth.

Chapter 38

Fanny and William travel to Portsmouth. He knows of Henry’s offer but is all for love also. Fanny reflects on the many letters that Mary Crawford wrote to her from London whose chief object was to rhapsodize about Mansfield and allow Henry to insert a few lines to Fanny. Edmund reads them also with rapt interest since they are from Mary. Fanny, reunited with her family finds the household noisy, small and in disarray, the children dirty and raggety and her father smelling of spirits. William’s ship the Thrush has its orders sooner than expected. Mr. Price ignores Fanny who he has not seen in eight years. Fanny’s sisters Susan and Betsy quarrel over a silver knife that was given to Susan when their sister Mary died. Fanny is shocked by their behavior and that of everyone else in the household.

Chapter 39

William departs for his voyage on the Thrush. Fanny sees defects of her parents; her father swears, drinks and is gross, her mother “partial, ill-judging parent, a dawdle, a slattern, who neither taught nor restrained her children, whose house was the scene of mismanagement and discomfort from beginning to end“. Her siblings are not much better, spoiled, unruly, loud quarrelsome and unproductive. Fanny tries to be useful and attends to sewing her brother Sam’s kit to be a midshipman. She can think of nothing but the “elegance, propriety, regularity, harmony, and perhaps, above all, the peace and tranquillity of Mansfield.”  The profound difference in the two household is exactly what Sir Thomas had planned for.

Chapter 40

Fanny is surprised by her eagerness to receive letters from Mary Crawford who she had been previously regretted corresponding with. Any connection to the people that she loves at Mansfield is a delight. Mary relays news of Maria’s indifference to Fanny due to her being Henry’s new amore. Edmund is at Thornton Lacey, called to his parish duties. Henry travels to his estate of Everingham for business. She encourages her to write with kind words for Henry upon his return. Fanny meets no one in Portsmouth in her parent’s acquaintances that are not uncouth and ill-bred and in turn they think she has “airs”. Fanny assists her sister Susan by improving her mind with books and her deportment by example. Fanny buys sister Betsey a silver knife of her own to quell the squabbling. Edmund has gone to London, and Fanny dreads what news that visit might bring.

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose