Posted by Ken on November 04, 1997 at 11:32:29:
In response to The place of Fanny Price, written by Tilde on November 04, 1997 at 08:07:55
A long post, but informative, I hope:
] ]What is to be the place of Miss Fanny Price?
] By "place" do you refer to her position (socially, hierachically ?) Do you refer to the position that other characters in the book envisage her to have (present and future) at any point during the book ?
Social--and geographical; this is a novel with symbolism that uses "place" in both senses simultaneously, IMHO. And any differences between what place other characters imagine her to occupy and her "real" place have to be resolved by novel's end for there to *be* an end.
] ] Let me immediately elaborate this by adding that one can also ask, are the Crawfords to have a place at Mansfield, ie, can they be made to fit the Mansfield world or no? These questions are more than idle curiosity; those who have no place in world Mansfield generally come to unsympathetic ends.
] Is it just me being a dumb non-native english-speaker, or is something missing in the last sentence ?
Mansfield is its own little psychological, social, moral world with its own bounds. Those who leave it because it can't accomodate them and vice versa end badly, within the terms the novel sets out. Henry and Maria, obviously, but Mary as well, and Mrs. Norris, just to round things out.
] ] As a teaser, I would assert that Mary Crawford's fate is foreshadowed early on when she becomes amazed that she cannot hire a cart during the harvest to have her piano moved to the parsonage. She remarks then that she will in time come to understand Mansfield ways, but her own tragedy is that she never does, and w/i the worldview of the novel, this failure damns her completely.
] Yeeeees ... and then again, perhaps ... nooo ...
] The way I read the book, it seems as if JA does not actually make up her mind until fairly late in the book about who gets who in the end.
Yes, I have seen this interpretation. I cannot believe it, however. I think JA cuts down Mary throughout the course of the novel in various subtle ways and intends Fanny for Edmund from the very start. (Here I have to drum my fingers & fret impatiently until I can recover my novels from my mother at Christmas--it's just this sort of thing you need a close textual analysis to develop & I haven't got the text! (-: ) Of course, JA wrings the last bit of suspense she can from the situation because she is a good writer, and you really do wonder how on earth she is going to get Fanny & Edmund together. She *does* pull a sort of deus ex machina, except it is thoroughly grounded in the characters of Maria & Henry, & thus reasonably believable.
] She wants to establish Mary Crawford as a young lady of fashion, used to city-life, not country-life.
Yes. But she *also* establishes the city as undesirable, and those adhering to it as, well, not of the best. It's a litle more complicated reasoning than that, since she is not attempting to portray ax murderers or anything similar. But that is the effect.
] Had JA decided for the Mary Crawford-Edmund Bertram alliance after all, (and the ensuing FP - Henry Crawford match) this would have been used to illustrate that it is possible to change perceptions and move from city to country and vice-versa.
Yes, but I don't see any groundwork for this possibility of change--see my response below:
] The change that Mary Crawford undergoes in the course of the novel is rather substantial (for JA at least), since she, in the end, only has one serious reservation about Edmund: his ordination. The way she is portrayed, however, indicates to me, that she would have come to terms with this as well, had JA decided on the double-match, rather than the single match.
Actually, I don't think she changes all that much, not in fundamentals. She begins with a fashionable & conventional, rather than, um, altruistic, morality & she ends with one. All along Edmund's ordination looms as a very large pill to swallow, and I can't find any indication of Mary being able to swallow it during the novel. And the ordination symbolizes the difference in outlook and character between the two, so it is more than just a job choice! (-: So a union between the two would not have been a happy one, IMHO, & I think JA saw it that way all along.
It's true she becomes quite attracted to Edmund, and this may make it seem as if she is changing herself, but I always have the sense that she is glossing over her real self to be agreeable to Edmund & that it is bound to come out in the end. As it does, it happens.
Ok, does that answer enough questions for everyone to lay the groundwork for some spirited discussion? Or are there some other things I need to clear up as well in this line of reasoning?
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