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|I think it's her shyness
Written by Tori Marie
(9/16/2010 12:43 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Sir Thomas's meaning, penned by Stephanie
I too was struck by the injustice of this remark. However, when I thought about it for a bit I realized that between Fanny's shyness and Sir Thomas' rather formal air with the children, he really doesn't know her at all.
Austen says, when Fanny first comes to live with the family, that he really doesn't even know his own daughters that well because he doesn't inspire them to express themselves honestly in his presence. This effect would be even more pronounced with Fanny, who is naturally shy and feels herself to be so much beneath the rest of the Mansfield family--as indeed, Mrs. Norris has ensured that she should. (Darn Sir Thomas for assigning her the task of making sure Fanny knows she isn't a "Miss Bertram"!)
Yes, Fanny has changed quite a bit in the time since she's come to Mansfield. She's grown into a young lady and she's learned to love learning, though I have no reason to suspect that she dreaded her letters or anything of the kind. I just mean that Edmund's guidance with books and such have helped her to blossom academically. But all Sir Thomas sees is the shy little thing that wouldn't speak and couldn't even be tempted by a gooseberry tart. His parting shot, IMO, is further evidence that he doesn't understand the young people in his care.
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