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|Mary’s Three Friends
Written by Robbin
(10/23/2010 6:54 p.m.)
In Ch. 4 Mary spoke of “three very particular friends” who had been “all dying for him [Henry] in their turn” (4) but like Maria and Julia had their hearts broken instead of their hopes gratified. I think the three friends are those Mary describes to Fanny in Ch. 36 because they or their situations remind me of the Miss Bertrams and Fanny. I can hardly feel it is a coincidence three friends are mentioned in Ch. 4 and three again in Ch. 36 and they not be the same friends. First of all the friend’s consist of two sisters but instead of a cousin, a step-daughter per Ch. 36. At their farewell tête-à-tête in the East Room Mary names and describes to Fanny the trials and tribulations of the two Miss Ross and one Miss Fraser. Also Mary was involved in the intrigues of her friends and Henry just as she is later at MP. Of course I do not suggest the situation with each friend was exactly the same as Henry’s dealings with Fanny, Julia and Maria but they do seem to have some parallels of character or situation or both.
I shall not be half so welcome to Mrs. Fraser in consequence of his situation with you. …for there is a daughter of Mr. Fraser, by a first wife, whom she is wild to get married, and wants Henry to take. Oh! she has been trying for him to such a degree. …you [Fanny] cannot have an idea of the sensation that you will be occasioning, of the curiosity there will be to see you, …Poor Margaret Fraser will be at me for ever about your eyes and your teeth, and how you do your hair, and who makes your shoes. (36)
Miss Margaret Fraser: I liken Margaret to Fanny’s situation rather than her character. She has a step-mother (like Sir Thomas) who tries to forward the match. Mary feels she will not be as welcome when it is discovered Henry has made a choice—this is consistent with her claim she is “courted for his sake” (36) and suggests Mrs. Fraser may be expecting cooperation in catching her brother. Mary encourages Henry to stay for the Fraser’s party to torture Maria but I am sure Mrs. Fraser issued the invitation for other reasons. Unlike Fanny it appears Miss Margaret is not resistant to the match. Mary’s prescience she will have to answer many questions about her rival suggests Miss Margaret finds Henry an agreeable choice. That she thinks so may be because she had been for a time the object of Henry’s fleeting attentions. If Henry did attack Miss Fraser’s tranquility then it would have been after her father’s marriage and probably Flora’s as well just as he made his idle plan for Fanny after her cousins had left MP.
I have not so much to say for my friend Flora, who jilted a very nice young man in the Blues for the sake of that horrid Lord Stornaway, who has about as much sense, Fanny, as Mr. Rushworth, but much worse–looking, and with a blackguard character. I had my doubts at the time about her being right, for he has not even the air of a gentleman, and now I am sure she was wrong. By the bye, Flora Ross was dying for Henry the first winter she came out. (36)
Lady Stornaway nee Miss Flora Ross: According to Mary Flora was one of the friends dying for Henry. I liken Flora to Julia in situation. Julia had caught the eye and attentions of a ranting poor honorable (40) only to accept Mr. Yates while Mary says Flora jilted one young man and then married another—see above. Later Julia’s ‘match became a less desperate business than he [Sir Thomas] had considered’ (48) it at first. Similarly Mary initially disliked Flora’s choice only to have her opinion gentled later. After Mary observed her friend “in high spirits, and very happy” she fancied her husband “very good–humoured and pleasant in his own family” (43). Mary also does not find him “so very ill–looking” (43). At first Mary disliked his unfashionable manners and judged him accordingly but later found him agreeable just as she did Edmund. The only similarity in character I can gleam is that if Flora was the less appreciated by Henry then like Julia she may have gotten over him easier than her sister which is reflected in her happy marriage.
I look upon the Frasers to be about as unhappy as most other married people. And yet it was a most desirable match for Janet at the time. We were all delighted. She could not do otherwise than accept him, for he was rich, and she had nothing; but he turns out ill–tempered and exigeant, and wants a young woman, a beautiful young woman of five–and–twenty, to be as steady as himself. And my friend does not manage him well; she does not seem to know how to make the best of it. There is a spirit of irritation… (36)
Mrs. Fraser nee Miss Janet Ross: I cannot find any direct evidence Henry ever led Janet into the wilderness yet she could still be the third friend as she is a picture of Maria and even covets her house in town per Ch. 40. Mrs. Fraser is described as beautiful whereas her sister is not suggesting if Henry did make her an object she may, like Maria, been the more preferred of the two. Like Maria Mrs. Fraser is ambitious, “cold–hearted, vain” and mercenary (44), unhappy in her marriage and exhibits a spirit of irritation. Mrs. Fraser also envies her sister’s wealth and status just like Maria envies Fanny Henry’s love. Mr. Fraser’s demand his young wife be more “steady” reminds me of Fanny’s unsaid accusation Henry is unsteady. Perhaps her sin like Henry’s is flirting. Perhaps Mrs. Fraser and Henry’s relationship has devolved into a “regular standing flirtation” just as Mary suggested it should have become for him and Maria. Such a woman probably would not feel conflicted flirting with Henry while still trying to match him with her step-daughter. (:D)
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