In (An Attempted) Defence of HC (LONG post)
Posted by Rachel on November 08, 1997 at 13:43:50:
In response to Out of place, written by Emily Anne on November 07, 1997 at 15:54:44
] I truly see that _neither_ Henry, nor Mary are morally improved by the end. To me, Mary's 'love' for Edmund seemed, from the beginning, to be fuel to her vanity, as Henry's 'love' for Fanny was. Edmund and Fanny were convenient, both seemed, on the surface to be easygoing in the respect that they tried not to offend, which I feel, was read by Henry and Mary as 'easily led'. I think that both Henry and Mary fully expected to be able to make Fanny and Edmund into what they wanted them to be. Henry wanted Fanny for himslef, to flatter his vanity, and even to 'train' in his ways -- the ways we see as immoral, brash, and quite improper (as he manages through deceit to force Fanny to accept the quite inappropriate gift of the necklace) -- she was sort of a protege (although until he got tired of waiting, he refused to se that she never could or would be any of these for him). Mary wanted Edmund because he even showed her he could be led, at least partially, in going against his morals when he was coaxed into doing the play, and because he seemed more attainable than his brother (as you said she really didn't want to go for the younger son).
] Henry and Mary show their true colors in the beginning, sport only a surface change in order to try to get what they think they want, and revert to their 'natural' state in the end. The fact that Jane Austin does have them revert in this manner, indicates to me that had they gotten what they thought they wanted (Fanny and Edmund), they would have reverted anyway, which would negate the viability of the matches. If she ha meant the changes to be true, and real, the changes would have stuck, even if Henry and Mary hadn't gotten what they wanted, IMHO.
I am sorry, but I have to disagree with some of the people here. I don't think that Henry was as wholly black as you make him to be--I think that Henry has just some major weaknesses.
I think of Henry Crawford as more of a person who became somewhat aware of his bad ways, but he could live with them. He knew his behavior was horrid and despicable--he recognized in Fanny a person who had sound morals and principals; a person who loved fiercely in her own quiet way. He saw these things in her, and he recognized that she was a good person. She (somewhat) made him realize the error of his ways, but he lacked the willpower to change. He saw he was bad, but he enjoyed his life, and he was content to float downstream sometimes. I believe that he was making a concious effort to change, but he let himself float downstream for a while, and he indulged himself for a moment, but that he picked the wrong moment for that. I think, as JA said, he regreted his actions throughout the rest of his life.
". . . he went off with her at last, because he could not help it, regretting Fanny, even at the moment, but regretting her infinitely more, when all the bustle of the intrigue was over, and a very few months had taught him, by the force of contrast, to place a yet higher value on the sweetness of her tempter, the purity of her mind, and the excellence of her principals . . . we may fairly consider a man of sense like Henry Crawford, to be providing for himself no small portion of vexation and regret -- vexation that must rise sometimes to self-reproach, and regret to wretchedness -- in having so requited hospitality, so injured family peace, so forfeited his best, most estimable and endeared acquaintance, and so lost the woman whom he had retionally, as well as passionately loved." (Charnwood Edition, 1988; pg. 541-542)
I maintain that even JA holds with me--Henry truly loved Fanny, but he was weak, and he regreted his actions the rest of his life. I'm sorry this is rather incoherant, but I hope you all understand what I'm getting at.
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