Thanks for your insights
Posted by Bonny on May 16, 1998 at 09:45:54:
In response to If I may butt in..., written by Constanza on May 15, 1998 at 10:55:38
] Let's see if I get your point. What you would like to know if that the Crawfords are potentially "good intelligent interesting" and moral people, that they would actually be so had they been educated differently and that they are attracted to Fanny and Edmund because the latters realise (possess and put into action in real life) the qualities M and H can admire, and thought couldn't exist in people..
] In fact that is what Edmund believes of Mary and what Mary believes of Henry. IMO some of their vices are indeed the result of education (mainly their frivolity); but their worst sin is that they are self-centered, egotistical people. They endeavor to change inasmuch as such change will help them get the persons they love. But they continue to rank their wishes first. There is that business of Mary with Fanny's horse (well, Edmund's actually, but that was a technicality); she must have known she was depriving Fanny of her daily exercise but she did not care so intent was she in flirting with Edmund.
] If you were to ask Mary and Henry what their own defects are, what do you think their answer would be? Do you think that they are conscious of what their vices are or that they have any vices? They lack moral standards against which to compare their or other's conduct, they cannot tell right from wrong (though in the case of Mary she can do that as applied to social behavior). It's a couple of years since I last read MP, but I believe Mary's aunt had moral principles, so education could not account for Mary's lack thereof.
] As regards education, I believe JA's idea would be that it may enhance or subdue what it is in one's nature (whether virtues or vices) but ultimately it is oneself who determines change. I don't think she aimed at criticizing education so much as society's habit of judging on appearances. Everybody is guilty of that crime but Fanny.
] To sum it up, I agree that Mary and Henry have the potential to become "moral" people and that that is one of the reasons they are attracted to Edmund and Henry, but I think that the blame for not realizing such qualities lies with them, and it is not the result of their education.
I think you're right, Henry is rather attracted to himself!;-)
Seriously, thanks Constanza, your thoughts have helped me put my own into perspective. I think you're right about the education point, that there is an interaction of nature and nurture, as you put it education may "enhance or subdue what is in one's nature." And Austen does overtly distinguish between the nature's of Fanny and Mary Crawford in one scene at Mansfield Parsonage, and subjectively (through Fanny) distinguishes between Edmund and Henry's. So while M and H have potential to realise moral qualities, under no circ.s would they fruition into Fannys or Edmunds.(<-- not that their qualities are without alloys.)I guess an instance of the failure of the self in realising "quality" is Henry, where Austen says had he held out and done the right thing his eventual reward must have been Fanny,(though her feelings on this marriage, and the question of her reward would be another matter.)I'm still considering the rest of what you say, you've given me a lot of food for thought.
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