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|Is Mary 'merely acting a part'?
Written by Rachel G
(9/29/2010 6:29 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, More on Amelia and Anhalt, penned by Ramya
Perhaps I have misunderstood you Ramya, but I take the last line of your 'More on Amelia & Anhalt' post to mean that you think Mary does not have any real feelings for Edmund, but is just amusing herself with a flirtation. If so, I really don't think we can be sure of that.
When Tom went off to the races Mary unexpectedly found that she "liked to have (Edmund) near her" (ch.7). I think that at that stage he was just 'better than nothing', a defence against tedium, much as Fanny is when she starts visiting the Parsonage (ch.22). But when Tom returns Mary realises that she really does prefer his brother. (ch.12)
Mary thinks poorly of clergymen and their lack of social status, so tries to persuade Edmund to choose a different profession, but she doesn't understand the depth of his religious commitment. Equally, she just doesn't 'get' his "uprightness of mind" and moral seriousness, so it could be said that she doesn't love the 'real' Edmund, but I don't think that means her feelings are not genuinely felt, or are just an act.
When she is walking with Fanny in the Parsonage shrubbery (ch.22)Mary muses on what life might be like being married and living in the country, and finds "nothing frightful in such a picture". I understand this passage to mean that Mary is seriously contemplating the possibility of marrying Edmund. She is not yet ready to take him 'warts and all' as a poor clergyman, but why would she be thinking this way at all if she was just pretending to like him and diverting herself with a meaningless flirtation?
Crucially Mary wants to be rich, whilst Edmund's intention is "only not to be poor" (ch.22). When she hears that he firmly intends to be ordained soon she feels mortified and angry:
"She had begun to think of him; she felt that she had, with great regard, with almost decided intentions; ....... If he could so command his affections, hers should do her no harm."(ch23)
This sounds to me like Mary has real feelings for Edmund. Though her affections are more guarded than for example Maria, I don't believe she is only "acting a part".
[I realise this post goes off at a tangent from the main subject of this thread - it was Ramya's last sentence that got me thinking.]
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