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|We respect your pheasants, sir
Written by Robbin
(9/26/2010 11:11 p.m.)
Sir Thomas’ children, but one, do not appear to respect him, his rooms or his pheasants. I don’t know that three of them have even a little affection reserved for him. When his father lectured Tom because his frivolous spending habits robbed Edmund of the Mansfield living for untold years all he could think of his father was he “had made a most tiresome piece of work of it” (3). Of course his daughters are no better. When Sir Thomas left for Antigua they were ‘much to be pitied… not for their sorrow, but for their want of it’ and when he wrote of his return ‘to think of their father in England again within a certain period… was a most unwelcome exercise’ (3).
All Tom’s assurances to Edmund, “I know my father as well as you do” and “I’ll take care that his daughters do nothing to distress him” (13) and he would be answerable for “taking liberties with my father’s house” are all talk and no walk. It was not until Sir Thomas stood in the wreck of his own dear room that Tom ‘began to see, more clearly than he had ever done before, that there might be some ground of offence’ (19) and Edmund is the one who explains the acting scheme to their father and takes the bear’s share of the blame. On his father’s return Tom is cowardly and spineless; he tries to avoid the truth about the play for as long as possible:
“The all will soon be told,” cried Tom hastily, and with affected unconcern; “but it is not worth while to bore my father with it now. You will hear enough of it to–morrow, sir. We have just been trying, by way of doing something, and amusing my mother, just within the last week, to get up a few scenes, a mere trifle. We have had such incessant rains almost since October began…” (19)
Tom tries to curry favor with Sir Thomas with flattery and it is so transparently insincere it is quite painful to read:
“The first day I went over Mansfield Wood, and Edmund took the copses beyond Easton, and we brought home six brace between us, and might each have killed six times as many, but we respect your pheasants, sir, I assure you, as much as you could desire. I do not think you will find your woods by any means worse stocked than they were.” (19)
Sir Thomas began as a rather stern reserved sort of person but for me his willingness to take care of his extended family, even the numerous children of his wife’s unthinking sister has always made me feel his heart is far tenderer than his countenance suggests. I think the hardships of travel, living in a foreign land and the separation from his “beloved family” (11) has stripped something of his reserve away. I think Sir Thomas deserves respect from his children but he also desires more affection than Julia, Maria and Tom can imagine in their tiny hearts and his feelings on discovering how little he was thought of are also very painful to read:
Sir Thomas saw all the impropriety of such a scheme [acting] among such a party, and at such a time, as strongly as his son had ever supposed he must; he felt it too much, indeed, for many words; and having shaken hands with Edmund, meant to try to lose the disagreeable impression, and forget how much he had been forgotten himself as soon as he could… (20)
What terrible selfish, unfeeling and ungrateful children. It is a good thing Sir Thomas has Fanny and Edmund! (:D)
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