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|Mary’s best laid plans
Written by Robbin
(9/13/2010 2:31 p.m.)
Mrs. Grant tells her siblings “Mansfield shall cure you both, and without any taking in” (5). She speaks of Mary’s ill opinion of the marriage state and Henry’s disinclination to risk his “happiness in a hurry” (4). I think Mrs. Grant means the people and marriages at MP will put their opinions right by countering the poor examples of scheming women, men of viscous propensities and disappointing and unharmonious marriages to which they have been exposed in London. However Mary & Henry do not wish to be cured and I take that to mean they are satisfied their opinions of matrimony are correct. Yet, after Tom’s departure for the races Mary fully expected “to feel a most melancholy difference in the change of masters” (6) but instead she begins to find Edmund agreeable despite the fact he has little to recommend him:
Edmund was beginning, at the end of a week of such intercourse, to be a good deal in love; …to the credit of the lady it may be added that, without his being a man of the world or an elder brother, without any of the arts of flattery or the gaieties of small talk, he began to be agreeable to her. She felt it to be so, though she had not foreseen, and could hardly understand it; for he was not pleasant by any common rule: he talked no nonsense; he paid no compliments; his opinions were unbending, his attentions tranquil and simple. There was a charm, perhaps, in his sincerity, his steadiness, his integrity, which Miss Crawford might be equal to feel, though not equal to discuss with herself. She did not think very much about it, however: he pleased her for the present; she liked to have him near her; it was enough. (7)
I think Mary’s surprise reveals too much value for the superficial—town manners, flattery, entertaining small talk that makes for fashionable fellow and not enough for substance—essentials in principle and character that makes up the worth of a man (or woman). Edmund’s manners are not worldly but they are steady and sincere and I think communicate a real value and regard for her which Mary finds pleasing. It is to Mary’s credit that she recognizes this on some level but not feeling “equal to discuss with herself” (7) his surprising agreeableness evidences an unwillingness to question the value system that led her to make his brother her object. Perhaps Mary fears upon examination she could learn to value the charm of sincerity, steadiness and integrity over rank, wealth and fashionableness. Such a change in values would put a definite kink in Mary’s plan to marry to advantage.
Is Mansfield beginning to work a cure on Mary? (:D)
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