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Written by Rachel G
(10/19/2010 8:47 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Predictions, penned by Tom P2
Tom listened with some shame and some sorrow; but escaping as quickly as possible, could soon with cheerful selfishness reflect, ...... that the future incumbent, whoever he might be, would, in all probability, die very soon.
The casual callousness of this is shocking as we read it. I laugh here at the vividness of expression, but much against my better judgement. In fact there's no real malice in Tom's prediction - compare this with Mary's hopes for Tom's death in ch.45 for a taste of real ugliness.
In ch.48 Tom's prediction proves to have been spectacularly accurate:
Mrs. Grant, ....... had again a home to offer Mary; ......They lived together; and when Dr. Grant had brought on apoplexy and death, by three great institutionary dinners in one week, they still lived together;
As if this were not irony enough, JA rounds off the confection in the penultimate line of the entire novel:
.... and to complete the picture of good, the acquisition of Mansfield living, by the death of Dr. Grant, occurred just after they had been married long enough to begin to want an increase of income, and feel their distance from the paternal abode an inconvenience.
The last pages of MP are immensely satisfying - the 'baddies' chastened or punished, the 'goodies' rewarded, and Fanny's cup overfloweth. As happiness piles upon happiness the effect is in danger of becoming saccharine - but not with JA in charge - she adds a squeeze of lemon to the mix. She takes the novel's first jolt of truly black humour, morphs it into a richly ironic fate for poor Dr Grant, then sets it into the final sentences of the tale 'to complete the picture of good', like a cherry on top of the cake. Clever ol' JA - she knew how to write with bite!
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