Towards the close of the novel, all those characters "not greatly in fault themselves" are rewarded with a happy ending at Mansfield Park, following the typically meritocratic Austen formula. The deserving Prices – William, Fanny and finally Susan – from their humble beginnings are now the pride and joy of the Bertram household.
The final outline of Susan implies that she is to follow the same fate as her sister. "Susan could never be spared. First as a comfort to Fanny, then as an auxiliary, and last as her substitute, she was established at Mansfield, with every appearance of equal permanency." But here's a thought—could she, like Fanny, end up finding love there too?
Tom Bertram at first may seem a doubtful candidate, given the wide disparity in age and his being unlikely to “fix”; but this is not unusual in Austen’s world. A parallel match takes place in Emma when the older Knightley brother marries Emma Woodhouse, his younger sister-in-law.
Tom is the only Bertram without a real love interest. (His brief mutual attentions when the Crawfords first arrive may be an echo of the fate of another man once sought by Mary Crawford in marrying a Price!)
That aside, Susan and Tom have a similar turn of character. In a few years’ time, both could be as suited to each other with their determined, outgoing natures as Fanny and Edmund were, who are “quiet” and “addicted to country pleasures”. Susan has a more open, “fearless disposition and happier nerves” than her sister and was eager to explore life outside her parental home. Tom was the wilder brother of the two, being more out in the world and high-spirited.
Both are morally benefited by their principled siblings. Tom feels Edmund’s better influence while on his sickbed. “He had suffered and had learnt to think.” Fanny forms Susan’s mind at Portsmouth and teaches her how better to smooth matters peaceably in their disordered home.
She with her good judgement could help him continue a steady course and lead a family (in contrast to the present Lady Bertram) – he would introduce her to all the ease of well-bred society.
Are not these the seeds of a most eligible romance?