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|Fanny too angry for speech. (Ch.9)
Written by Rachel G
(9/23/2010 11:26 a.m.)
So far in this GR I have felt much more in tune with Fanny than I used to, but in this week's chapters there are two instances when her reactions seem to me to be unduly extreme and emotional. I have made two separate posts as they concern very different topics.
In the chapel at Sotherton Mary's response to the idea of obligatory daily household prayers leaves Fanny too angry for speech. Here's the passage:-
“It is a pity,” cried Fanny, “that the custom should have been discontinued. It was a valuable part of former times. There is something in a chapel and chaplain so much in character with a great house, with one’s ideas of what such a household should be! A whole family assembling regularly for the purpose of prayer is fine!”
“Very fine indeed,” said Miss Crawford, laughing. “It must do the heads of the family a great deal of good to force all the poor housemaids and footmen to leave business and pleasure, and say their prayers here twice a day, while they are inventing excuses themselves for staying away.”
“That is hardly Fanny’s idea of a family assembling,” said Edmund. “If the master and mistress do not attend themselves, there must be more harm than good in the custom.”
“At any rate, it is safer to leave people to their own devices on such subjects. Everybody likes to go their own way—to chuse their own time and manner of devotion. The obligation of attendance, the formality, the restraint, the length of time—altogether it is a formidable thing, and what nobody likes; and if the good people who used to kneel and gape in that gallery could have foreseen that the time would ever come when men and women might lie another ten minutes in bed, when they woke with a headache, without danger of reprobation, because chapel was missed, they would have jumped with joy and envy. Cannot you imagine with what unwilling feelings the former belles of the house of Rushworth did many a time repair to this chapel? The young Mrs. Eleanors and Mrs. Bridgets— starched up into seeming piety, but with heads full of something very different—especially if the poor chaplain were not worth looking at—and, in those days, I fancy parsons were very inferior even to what they are now.”
For a few moments she was unanswered. Fanny coloured and looked at Edmund, but felt too angry for speech;
My initial reaction to this passage was that whether you share the religious beliefs or not such levity is not treating a sanctified space with due respect. But Mrs Rushworth is treating the chapel like a tourist attraction, and nobody disapproves of Julia's joking, so this can't be what bothers Fanny.
Fanny could be bothered by:-
- Mary's dislike of enforced religious observance
- Her implication that this engenders hypocrisy ("seeming piety")
-Her acceptance that young women may have their minds on worldly concerns during prayers. (In my time I've attended countless obligatory prayers with teenage girls - Mary's comments seem realistic to me, though not entirely commendable.)
- The description of parsons as "inferior". Is Mary wrong to say anything critical of the clergy just as she was wrong to express criticism of the Admiral?
What exactly is provoking Fanny's anger here? Is anger an appropriate response to what Mary has said?
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