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|The Miss Bertrams’ End Game
Written by Robbin
(9/26/2010 4:09 p.m.)
Henry tried to appease Julia after she quit the play “by the usual attack of gallantry and compliment, but he had not cared enough about it to persevere against a few repulsesl” (17) and gladly turns all his attention to Maria and the play. Henry’s attentions to Maria during the play lead her to have serious hope in him and she avoids Mr. Rushworth more than ever. Mary refers to them as those indefatigable rehearsers and tells Fanny she looked in on them and it “happened to be exactly at one of the times when they were trying not to embrace” (18). Another too intimate moment is seen when Julia announces the return of Sir Thomas:
Frederick was listening with looks of devotion to Agatha’s narrative, and pressing her hand to his heart; and as soon as she [Julia] could notice this, and see that, in spite of the shock of her words, he still kept his station and retained her sister’s hand… the very circumstance which had driven Julia away was to her [Maria] the sweetest support. Henry Crawford’s retaining her hand at such a moment, a moment of such peculiar proof and importance, was worth ages of doubt and anxiety… (19)
Even when Maria knows her father is heading to “his own dear room” (19) and there discover the extent of their acting her head is still full of Henry: “It is time to think of our visitors… still feeling her hand pressed to Henry Crawford’s heart, and caring little for anything else” (19). I easily understand why Maria is in love with Henry and why she believes he returns her affection. Maria is now “in a good deal of agitation” (20) for Henry to declare himself to her father however since he never had any credible or honorable intentions she is only in for a sad and astonishing disillusionment.
Maria saw with delight and agitation the introduction of the man she loved to her father. Her sensations were indefinable, and so were they a few minutes afterwards upon hearing Henry Crawford, who had a chair between herself and Tom, ask the latter in an undervoice whether there were any plans for resuming the play after the present happy interruption… he should make a point of returning to Mansfield at any time required by the party: he was going away immediately, being to meet his uncle at Bath without delay; but if there were any prospect of a renewal of Lovers’ Vows, he should hold himself positively engaged… (20)
I can’t actually feel sorry for Maria, she deserves no better treatment than she has given to her fiancé but I can see it is heart-breaking to realize the play meant more to Henry than she does—the ‘hand which had so pressed hers to his heart! the hand and the heart were alike motionless and passive now!’ (20). It does not seem like a good idea to me but Maria, too proud to let Henry think she misses him, too covetous for “fortune and consequence, bustle and the world” (21) and desiring freedom from her father and MP rushes into marriage despite Sir Thomas’ willingness to disentangle her from a man she obviously does not care for. Such as they are the sisters are restored to each other but I can’t help feeling Julia owes a great debt of gratitude to her new brother for her share of the amusements:
Julia was to go with them to Brighton. Since rivalry between the sisters had ceased, they had been gradually recovering much of their former good understanding; and were at least sufficiently friends to make each of them exceedingly glad to be with the other at such a time. Some other companion than Mr. Rushworth was of the first consequence to his lady; and Julia was quite as eager for novelty and pleasure as Maria… (21)
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