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|Hope, Vanity & Selective Insensibility
Written by Robbin
(10/19/2010 12:49 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Obtaining her affection, penned by Barb JA
In the last line of your response, if you are speaking of William’s promotion, I feel like I did not get my point across and looking back at my response I do feel it was muddled. I was not saying the generosity of the promotion was erased. Henry is a cad but I feel when he arranged William’s promotion he was a man with the honorable intention of marriage. That is all I have to add about the generosity of the promotion so will agree to disagree.
I recognize the argument Henry felt he had Fanny’s affection and had no need to use William’s promotion in pursuit of more but I disagree. I do not feel Henry’s surety of Fanny’s regard precludes his using the promotion to influence her opinion of him and upon further reading it seems to me he planned to do so from the start. Before proposing Henry believed he had “made no inconsiderable progress in her [Fanny’s] affections” (30) and he contrasted it with “but my own are entirely fixed” (30) suggesting he considered hers were not entirely fixed. Since that was his opinion I think he may very well have intended the promotion to fix Fanny’s affections entirely. Mary asks why he has not yet proposed and he explains that he is waiting “for very little more than opportunity” (30). When the first opportunity arises, being alone with Fanny, he announces the promotion and then proposes. There was no reason Henry needed to be alone with Fanny to announce William’s promotion other than he desired it so he could also propose which does require privacy. That the ‘opportunity [to propose] was too fair’ (31) to resist seems more of a set-up rather than an accident. I am willing to agree to disagree on this point.
Henry does seem stupid and irrational in his pursuit of Fanny. He is used to getting his way and unfortunately gets encouragement from most everyone but Fanny. He sees her incurably gentle manner as he wishes or if need be determines to change her mind and from the beginning derived spirits from the idea of forcing her to love him. Another reason for Henry’s hope is that in attempting to attach her though kindness to William he forced Fanny to behave more agreeably towards him than her opinion of him justified. He really sets himself up to be fooled. He mistakes her attentiveness for regard: “in the midst of all this, still speaking at intervals to me, or listening, and as if she liked to listen, to what I said” (30). I can see why Henry thinks he has made progress in Fanny’s affections by comparing her behavior towards him in Ch. 30 just before he proposes to how she behaved at the Grant’s dinner party: “I never was so long in company with a girl in my life, trying to entertain her, and succeed so ill” (24). I feel there are many reasons he misinterprets Fanny’s behavior but the basic problem is that he is vain, selfish and inconsiderate of her desires. Henry talks about saving Fanny from the insensitivity of MP but ignores her pleas to be free of his attentions.
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