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kev67
09-20-2018, 08:09 PM
I reached the end of volume 2. I liked the note that Fanny returned to Mary Crawford regarding the proposal of marriage from her brother. It does not make sense; I read it two or three times and it was not coherent, but Frank and Mary Crawford would understand what it meant. It is still in character:*she is polite, she is grateful for what Frank has done for her brother, and she does give a reason for her refusal, albeit in a not very coherent way. It's something I've noticed with Austen before. She's very good at her secret channels of information. Her characters can communicate because they understand each others' minds.

"I am much obliged to you, my dear Miss Crawford, for your kind congratulations, as far as they relate to my dearest William. The rest of your note I know means nothing, but I am so unequal to anything of the sort, that I hope you will excuse my begging you to take no further notice. I have seen too much of Mr Crawford not to understand his manners; if he understood me as well, he would I dare say behave differently. I do not know what I write, but it would be a great favour of you never to mention the subject again. With thanks for the honour of your note, I remain, dear Miss Crawford, & c. & c."

Ecurb
09-22-2018, 05:45 PM
Fanny (perhaps) really does think that Crawford is duplicitous in his proposal to her. As she states, she knows he occasionally toys with the affections of women. However, Jane Austen is a bit duplicitous herself. She leads the reader to think of Fanny as the heroine who sits quietly, observing accurately and without prejudice the actions of the more active characters. But Fanny (as we readers know, if we care to think of it) is as duplicitous as any of them. She is secretly in love with Edmund. This leads her to be jealous of Mary Crawford, which allows her (supposedly) to see through Mary's insincerity and lack of moral fiber. She is not "taken in" by Crawford's protestations of love (unlike Maria and Julia) -- but perhaps this is because her heart has already been given to her cousin. Her view of others is always colored by her secret -- a secret for which, were it known, she would be condemned by the powers-that-be at Mansfield. Remember, at the start of the novel Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris discuss with horror the possibility that Fanny will entangle one of the Mansfield sons.

Mansfield Park is Jane Austen's anti-heroic novel In the standard epic, the hero leaves home to seek his fortune. IN MP Fanny strives mightily to NEVER leave her new home, which she sees as an Eden. Austen makes it work seamlessly, because Fanny is timid and unheroic -- the girl who is rejected by her birth family and who wants nothing more than to have a home in which she can avoid adventures. Mary Crawford's failing is that she thinks others are like she is, and can't imagine a girl who wouldn't want adventurous romance.

Here Mary and Mrs. Grant are talking, earlier in the novel:


“Ah! You have been in a bad school for matrimony, in Hill Street.”

“My poor aunt had certainly little cause to love the state; but, however, speaking from my own observation, it is a manoeuvring business. I know so many who have married in the full expectation and confidence of some one particular advantage in the connexion, or accomplishment, or good quality in the person, who have found themselves entirely deceived, and been obliged to put up with exactly the reverse. What is this but a take in?”

“My dear child, there must be a little imagination here. I beg your pardon, but I cannot quite believe you. Depend upon it, you see but half. You see the evil, but you do not see the consolation. There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere—and those evil–minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves.”

“Well done, sister! I honour your esprit du corps. When I am a wife, I mean to be just as staunch myself; and I wish my friends in general would be so too. It would save me many a heartache.”

“You are as bad as your brother, Mary; but we will cure you both. Mansfield shall cure you both, and without any taking in. Stay with us, and we will cure you.”

The "drama" is set. Will Mansfield change the Crawfords, or will the Crawfords change Mansfield (as they literally try to do when they turn one of the rooms into a theater)? Who will be "taken in" or "deceived"? Is Fanny the one who sees things clearly? Is Mansfield Park a bucolic Eden (per Fanny's opinion), or is it a tyranny, ruled by a distant, unloving and powerful God (Sir Thomas), and funded on the labor of slaves? As is often the case with Austen, it is perfectly reasonable to read the novel from Fanny's point of view, and the reader is encouraged by Austen to do so. But she hints at other points of view, and a complicated moral universe.

kev67
09-23-2018, 05:43 PM
and those evil–minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves.

So, is Fanny an evil-minded observer?



You are as bad as your brother, Mary; but we will cure you both. Mansfield shall cure you both, and without any taking in. Stay with us, and we will cure you.”

Cure them both of what?



Remember, at the start of the novel Sir Thomas and Mrs. Norris discuss with horror the possibility that Fanny will entangle one of the Mansfield sons.

I remember reading that and I also remember reading someone's argument that bringing them up together would make them feel like brothers and sisters. I think it's true that bringing boys and girls up together makes them feel like siblings, so they are unlikely to fall in love. I find it a problem in other books where this happens.

I am unsure how sheltered Fanny is. Jane Austen did not write explicitly about sex. I think there is a hint that Frank Crawford and Maria Bertram had sex at Sotherton House, or at least in the grounds. Does Fanny suspect this herself? She must know Frank Crawford is a man of the world. If she does suspect Frank and Maria of having been lovers, it would be difficult for her to tell this to anyone.

Ecurb
09-26-2018, 09:43 AM
Fanny certainly does not seem an "evil-minded" observer. But she likes to think badly of her secret rival Mary, doesn't she? The Crawfords "need" to be cured of their sophisticated, "city" ways (although Mansfield "Park" fails in its projected cure). The Crawfords represent the sinful urban sophisticates, the Prices the sinful urban middle class. The contrasts between the urban and the rural are repeatedly emphasized in the novel.