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|No Fury like a Woman Scorned
Written by Robbin
(10/2/2010 10:25 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Right & wrong, penned by Barb JA
I agree Mary’s anger at the news of Edmund’s ordination is an eye-popper. I had not noticed this particular emotion before but I find it to be quite interesting and worthy of closer inspection. As the Crawfords are my focus I feel it particularly incumbent upon me to make an effort to discover the cause. What has poor befuddled and infatuated Edmund done to deserve her anger?
The assurance of Edmund’s being so soon to take orders, coming upon her like a blow that had been suspended, and still hoped uncertain and at a distance, was felt with resentment and mortification. She was very angry with him. She had thought her influence more. (23)
It is interesting that Mary was shocked to learn of Edmund’s ordination. She felt it ‘a blow that had been suspended, and still hoped uncertain’ (23) suggesting, as in acting, she thought he would change his mind for her sake. I think Mary’s resentment springs from Edmund’s taking orders despite all she has said to him against it and she is mortified because ‘She had begun to think of him’ (23) as a serious suitor. She saw in Edmund’s behavior towards herself ‘almost decided intentions’ (23) but taking orders makes it ‘plain that he could have no serious views, no true attachment’ (23). Edmund knows she believes ‘A clergyman is nothing’ (9) and that ‘she would never stoop to’ (23) to marry one so his decision is proof of his indifference. I think she is angry because she feels taken-in. Her revenge confirms her disappointed hopes and her affection for him:
She would learn to match him in his indifference. She would henceforth admit his attentions without any idea beyond immediate amusement. If he could so command his affections, hers should do her no harm. (23)
I do not know if Mary’s affections will do her no harm but I feel there are two great faults in her logic. One is the idea Edmund should sacrifice his profession is very unreasonable. He is not disinclined, has long prepared for the clergy and it secures him an early competence which it seems is not usually so easy to come by. The second is that pursuing his livelihood in the clergy has absolutely nothing to do with his regard for her or whether his intentions towards her are honorable. Perhaps Mary’s equating accommodation with affection has its roots in the Crawford marriage—it does not seem they were affectionate or accommodating to each other and her own experience has not taught her otherwise. Both her uncle and Henry failed to put her needs before their own when I think it was inarguably their duty.
It is interesting that early on Mary thought Edmund’s ‘opinions were unbending’ (7) but it seems hers are just as steadfast. At Hill Street she was indeed ‘in a bad school for matrimony’ (5).
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