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|Letters 78 & 79, Ordination
Written by BarbaraB
(2/11/2013 2:50 a.m.)
These two letters together answer the ordination question that was recently being discussed. The Le Faye notation points out that, "Over-hasty reading of this letter  in the past has led some critics to believe that JA was only just now deciding to compose MP and that 'ordination' would be her theme for the novel. As her comments in letter 78 make clear, she was in fact by this date already half-way through MP. Her request to CEA for 'enquiries' was no doubt concerning the time necessary for the process of ordination---i.e. how long Edmund Bertram might be kept away from Mansfield Park for this purpose. CEA was then staying with James Austen, the cleric of the family, who would obviously be in the best position to provide the details of his own ordination in 1787."
I agree with this notation but, imo, that doesn't take away from the fact that religion, (ordination being an important part of it), is the foundation of the novel. Johnson's gives two definitions for 'ordination': established order (or tendency) and the act of investing any man with sacerdotal power. I find it interesting that both of these definitions, political and religious, play an important part in MP.
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