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|The outs and not outs
Written by Tori Marie
(9/17/2010 12:05 p.m.)
“I believe I know what you mean, but I will not undertake to answer the question. My cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman, but the outs and not outs are beyond me.”
To me, this reply says two things. The first is that the Bertrams have not truly done their duty by Fanny. If, as Sir Thomas suggested at first, they had made provisions for her future, there would be some plan in place to introduce her to society at some point and the family would all know about it. Edmund might have said, "Miss Price is not yet out, but after my father returns and Maria marries, she will be brought out." So we know that at this point, no plans have been made for Fanny's future, though she is now 18 years old.
The second thing this speech of Edmund's tells me is that he is oblivious to this terrible omission. IMO, if Edmund had been in any way troubled by that fact, JA would have given him a grave countenance or a moment of hesitation upon speaking or something. But instead, the best he can say for Fanny is that she has the "age and sense of a woman." As Edmund is Fanny's only real ally among the Bertrams, I have trouble excusing him for this.
Also, Tom deserves quite a bit of blame here too. Instead of answering Mary's question about Fanny, he goes into two seperate stories about himself and girls he has met who are out and not out. In one case, he expects Mary to have heard the story--as if everyone, everywhere discusses the ins and outs of Tom Bertram and all the young ladies he meets! What a self-centered...well, let's just say that I'm unhappy with him.
However, my greatest censure of Tom in this exchange has to do with something he drops into the conversation. He says:
"... I went down to Ramsgate for a week with a friend last September, just after my return from the West Indies."
Does he mean to say that he stopped to goof off at Ramsgate before coming home to his family? Even if he came home and then went away again, isn't it a little much for him to be doing this? I mean, Mrs. N doesn't think Fanny's pony should be replaced because Sir Thomas's affairs are in some difficulty. Maria's engagement cannot be announced. But Tom goes off and enjoys himself as usual, despite the fact that he's supposed to have gone to Antigua to grow up a little and learn about responsibility? Sheesh! :-)
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