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Written by Rachel G
(10/13/2010 3:44 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Contrasts, penned by Barb JA
Regarding that necklace, I'd like to point out that it would have been most improper for Fanny to receive a gift, particularly a valuable one, from a man to whom she was not engaged and was not a family member. Henry is well enough versed in the social niceties to know this perfectly well, so to me this gift and the deceit involved in the giving of it cancel out any generous impulse Henry may have had.
Henry's other 'gift' to Fanny, William's promotion, was better in that it involved her in no impropriety. It didn't involve a lot of effort on Henry's part - he gave William a lift to London introduced him to the Admiral and persuaded the latter to recommend William for promotion. Nevertheless this was something which Fanny truly desired, more than any necklace. If this 'gift' was really motivated by generosity and a real desire to please her, rather than by self-interest (which I doubt), then Henry would have done better to copy Darcy and keep his efforts secret rather than use it to exert emotional blackmail, IMO.
You make a good point about contrasts. Though the Crawfords are morally suspect in various ways I just don't see them as the "baddies", especially when I consider the many instances of selfishness, blinkered thinking, and the worship of wealth and worldly consequence which are manifested by the various members of the Bertram family.
There's another example of the contrasts between Crawfords and Bertrams in ch.28 at the start of the ball:
The entrance of the Grants and Crawfords was a favourable epoch. The stiffness of the meeting soon gave way before their popular manners and more diffused intimacies: little groups were formed, and everybody grew comfortable.
This sort of social ease and warmth is hardly a mark of moral excellence, but it is life enhancing and not to be sneered at, IMO.
I think the possibility that the Crawfords may have the capacity to move beyond the rather brittle, morally suspect characters we see at first is an important element in the novel. We see a softer Mary who still wants Edmund despite his ordination; we see Henry apparently deeply smitten by Fanny, and we wonder if they are really changing. This maintains a very different sort of narrative tension than would be the case if we were just transfixed by horror at the possibility of Fanny and Edmund ending up with partners who were obviously unredeemable villains.
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