The place of ... (rather long)
Posted by Tilde on November 05, 1997 at 04:06:42:
In response to Places, Everyone!, written by Ken on November 04, 1997 at 11:32:29
If I seem harsh, please forgive me. I am not in the habit of using emoticons, and all I write is written with respect and enjoyment of a good argument. In short, without aggression. If I sound agressive, please subscribe it to my not having english as a first language.
] ] ]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.
Now, Ken. This is tooooo much :-)
You cannot state something as monumental as that, with the blithe assumption that this is the case and without argument.
To be sure. There is the country/city problem, but that is inherent in every JA novel, where (elegant) country life will always win, hands down, over the city.
The city (any city, even Bath) is, in the JA mythography "bad" and likewise the country (any country, as long as it is "elegant") is always good.
Nothing particular to MP in that.
What is particular to MP is that it to a far greater extent than any other Austen-novel is a Cinderella story.
] 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.
The only person here who does not fit into the city-country dichotomy is Mrs Norris (and perhaps the miss Bertrams). And she is unchangingly "bad" through the book.
Both Henry and Mary Crawford are substantially (morally) improved by their intercourse with country-values, and in like manner, Maria Bertram/Mrs. Rushworth is substantially (morally) depraved by her intercourse with city-values.
The Crawfords are not sufficiently "country-fied" for them to continue as persons of moral integrity once they are physically removed to the city. Maria is "naturally bad", or to quote her own father, (chp. 48) "Something must have been wanting within.." and further "To be distinguished for elegance and accomplishments ... could have ... no moral effect on the mind." and that is the reason she can be depraved by city-values.
] 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....
I think not.
] ] 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.
Yes, but she also shows, that it can turn out "good", as in Mrs. Grant and Lady Bertram.
] Actually, I don't think she [Mary] 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.
Disagree. I think JA could have used MP to show, that a woman can be happy outside her own circle (witness P&P as well as Persuasion), as long as her husband helps her to find her feet in the new life. Edmund would have done (practically) everything for Mary in that respect (he is a true Austen-hero after all).
] 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
She does. She is not inherently "bad", as is Mrs Norris and Maria.
& that it is bound to come out in the end. As it does, it happens.
No. What happens is that her brother blows up the whole construction.
(again chapter 48)
"Henry Crawford, ruined by early independence and bad domestic example, indulged in the freaks of a cold-blooded vanity a little too long. Once it had, by an opening undesigned and unmerited, led him into the way of happiness. ... WOuld he have deserved more, there can be no doubt that more would have been obtainedM especially when that marriage had taken place, which would have given him the assistance of her conscience in subduing her first inclination, and brought them very often togeher. Would he have persevered, and uprightly, Fanny must have been his reward - and a reward very voluntarily bestowed - within a reasonable period from Edmund's marrying Mary".
So, the scenario is clear. The other outcome would have been possible. With Fanny-Henry and Edmund-Mary living happily ever after in close communion, along the lines of the Bingleys and the Darcys in P&P, or between Barton and Delaford in S&S etc. Mary being guided by her loving husband into becoming what he envisages her to be, and Henry becoming a solid country-gentleman under the gentle influence of Fanny.
So, I cannot agree that it is a novel of "place", it is rather a novel where JA wrestles with the problem of how people with the same ( family-, social and geographical) background can turn out so very different. The budding discussion of genes vs. environment. (Only it was not called so then).
She struggles with this theme (like she does with the country-city theme) in most of her books. The huge difference between the Miss Bennets, Miss Dashwoods, Miss Elliots, Mr Bertrams etc.
If we have to have one central theme, I would suggest the theme of obedience as being far more important than that of "place". Those who obey their betters (parents, conscience, God etc) live happily ever after, those who work against their own good moral principles become "outcasts" (litteraly or metaphorcally).
Fanny gets her happy ending, because she is obedient, as does Edmund. Mary, Henry, Maria etc. get their unhappy ending, because they are dis-obedient (they sin against the sanctity of marriage in one way or the other).
Sorry about the length.
I remain as ever
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