Posted by Michelle K. on September 09, 1997 at 17:39:54:
I came very close to titling this message "AAAARRRRGGGHHH!"
There. Now, frustrations aside, I shall endeavor to write coherently.
I respect others' rights to their own opinions, but I must say that, having recently finished reading MP (within the last month or so), I am confused. After all that I've read on this board and on Fanfic, it appears that I am vastly outnumbered here in Pemberley in liking both Fanny and Edmund and sincerely believing JA's conclusion to MP, that they really do belong together. I especially don't understand the labelling of Edmund as a "weakling", and the idea that Henry Crawford was done an injustice by Austen herself in not being allowed to fully reform and marry Fanny. IMO, the novel's conclusion is the only logical one considering the character (or lack thereof) of Henry and Mary Crawford.
First, allow me to say that I believe the real weakling in this story is Henry, not Edmund. Henry may have all this wonderful potential, but he squanders it chasing after his curiosities. Henry only decides he is in love with Fanny after he tries to toy with her affections and, shockingly, she doesn't play along. I think that he sincerely believes that he is in love with her, but I also think that his curiosities are stronger than his will (which is what drove him to see Maria again in the first place), and even if she had married him, she would have been miserable, because eventually (even, perhaps, after an intitial interlude of domestic happiness) Henry would happen along some other woman who would arouse his curiosity by posing a challenge to his charms (and his vanity, since he really believes that he is so charming that no woman can resist him), and off he would go, back to his old ways. Fanny may not be as active or even as outwardly charming as Henry, but in strength of will she has him soundly beaten.
Also, about Edmund, I think he suffers the same delusion that a lot of men face--that of drawing up an ideal in his mind of the perfect girl, and then falling head-over-heels for the first girl who matches that description on an outward level. Sure, he was blind and even stupid for not noticing Mary's flaws sooner (and for glossing over them when they are pointed out), but he eventually does notice. He doesn't dump her merely because of her connection with Henry. He dumps her because she tries to minimize and rationalize the seriousness of Henry's actions. Mary's reaction to the elopement finally opens his eyes to what he should have seen all along--that Mary is all wrong for him. Only after having his eyes opened this way is he able to finally notice Fanny, who has been the right one for him all along and, unlike some other women who would have gotten impatient and found someone else, she has actually waited for him! Fanny didn't have much else to do, IMO, considering her options.
I think Edmund was Fanny's reward for sticking to her principles, and I also believe that he does really love her. I think that reflection on what he almost did (marry Mary and throw away his best chance at domestic happiness) would make Fanny even dearer to him. The story, IMO, met its best possible conclusion. Fanny got her man, Edmund got a figurative whack on the head (and a better woman than he set out to get), and the Crawfords were exposed for the weaklings they really were.
Well, that's my interpretion, at least. Sorry for the looooong post, and no hostilities intended. I just thought that the other side of this matter hadn't been adequately heard. I am curious, though, as to whether anyone agrees with me. Are there any other "Bertramites" (for lack of a better term) out there, or am I alone?
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