Posted by Kali on May 05, 1997 at 02:40:32:
In reply to Rebuttal: Identity and Principles posted by Ann on May 03, 1997 at 00:06:33
Ann, I have said at least three times that Fanny does not have to like the Crawfords. Especially not Henry, whom she does have reason to believe is a jerk. However, in order to understand their kind - and perhaps learn from them and appreciate their positive qualities - she does need to accept the fact that they are complete human beings with very astute takes on society and conservatism, and that her views - especially those that seem to collide with theirs - are not particularly sacred nor are they the whole truth.
You also have completely ignored my statement that introversion is okay. MY problem with Fanny is her willful, stubborn ignorance of the world outside. She puts tremendous store into what is familiar, and what is traditional and comfortable, and is prone to paralysis when it comes to the unfamiliar and the "immoral" or "unworthy." I, for one, would not want to have to deal with her moods and oddities in the workplace - nor would I appreciate the impedence of her "moral oppositions" at every step of the way.
Certainly, she CHOOSES to emulate Edmund (out of how many options?), and is affected by others in her household, but the actual influences on her morality and personality are few, static, and limited. The examples of her cousins, for example, serve not as lessons but excuses for reaction on Fanny's part. The Crawfords, also, could have presented Fanny with a great, soul-searching, learning experience, but instead, Fanny quickly labelled them trouble and ran away. As I believe that Mary's character was unbelievably twisted upon Henry's affair with Maria and Tom's severe illness, I can't chalk up Fanny's dislike to intuition or skill of experience. From the beginning, Fanny is rationalizing and potshotting at Mary without really attempting to get to know her. Mary is different, Mary feels differently about religion than does Fanny, and Mary has enthralled Edmund. Fanny falls into the trap of jealousy and prejudice. Even when Fanny begins to appreciate Mary's correspondence, you still wouldn't see Fanny opening up in the same way to Mary as Mary does to her. I'll repeat: Fanny is lucky that Mary (and Henry too - who's a playerf***, but not necessarily to the extremes Austen takes him. After all, even those with the most immoral of tendencies need not partake of the most immoral acts. And since it is written that he DID love Fanny and kept kicking himself in the rear after running off with Maria, I don't completely understand why he would have done it in the first place - Austen glosses over Henry's fall with quick and neat narration.) does end up being creepy, because her initial reasons for writing the pair off are closed-minded, prejudiced, rationalized, and illogical. She foresakes mental vigor so that her love for Edmund and her own crusty conservatism might be vindicated.
At the beginning, what is so blatantly unrespectable about the Crawfords - especially Mary - which is not softened by Mary's good intentions and Henry's insight? And simply becuase the Crawfords aren't angels, does it logically follow that they are the deepest and wrongest scourge of satan? And even if they are unrespectable, does it follow that they're uninsightful and without information to impart? They're not perfect or even particularly good, but they AREN'T NEGLIGIBLE, either. Even Henry's toying with Julia and Maria is fueled equally by the stupidity of the girls as by Henry himself. They deserve ridicule and he knows it...remember when he says with a smile that he will like Julia best because he's expected to? If anything, his "immorality" is a direct attack upon the faulty values of society, especially of the modern marriage (and this is a sacrament here!) market and the spoilt natures of coddled rich girls. The frustrating thing here is that instead of taking to heart WHY her cousins are flawed, Fanny seems to grasp at the mere fact that they ARE flawed as an excuse to uphold herself and Edmund without questioning if or why they are really better. In addition, instead of attempting to separate Henry's correct insight from his baseness for her own benefit, Fanny inefficiently rejects the entire package, ignoring the fact that single personalities are nuanced.
I guess I'm most peeved with the fact that Fanny, who's never come up with an original thought in her life, is disrespecting two of the most brilliant people she'll ever meet. She has a chance to learn, to reevaluate herself and her environment - the ultimate vindication of her own beliefs should they survive relatively intact - and she shuts down. I'm kind of offended about your psychobabble comments. I used the terms because I felt that they described Fanny's situation: she's so adverse to change and to new ideas that it affects her own development as a maturing human being, limiting fruitful interaction with others. If that's not the point to life, then what is? If we were meant to live sequestered in lives as children (or as a younger cousin, in Fanny's case), affected and molded by a single role model (let's face it, Uncle is more an excuse than an influence, as he's largely inaccessible to Fanny if he's even at home) in a severely-limited family environment and resistent to all other influences, we would all be fractional personalities - stunted! We would never move away from home to make our own lives and our own choices. As she was lucky enough to come out "right" about the Crawfords, her cousins, and c., she now has no encouragement for introspection. She's got her man - who's not really right for her, as more of a brother than a lover - and can now live out the remainder of her life in blissful ignorance of herself and her husband.
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