"There is a school of thought which holds that Jane Austen was unduly influenced in the writing of Mansfield Park by some authoritarian moralist, possible a clergyman of the stamp of Mr Collins. Under his influence, she made Henry Crawford damn himself by his character. As a result, the book, which could have been a comedy, touches tragedy."
They begin at Chapter 46 when Fanny receives the letter from Mary Crawford telling her that "A most scandalous, ill-natured rumour has just reached me..." They go on to write five short chapters that make Henry Crawford blameless in the seduction of Maria Rushworth. The redemption of Henry and Mary is done quite plausibly. Because they have had the good luck to fall in love with Fanny and Edmund, they have begun to see the errors of their ways. While Henry was extricating Maria from the mess, Mary remained in London awaiting news. "Her feelings, had she known it, almost matched Fanny's." The manner in which the scandal is handled causes Fanny to reassess her feelings for Henry. She also discovers that she is no longer jealous of Mary. When all is done, Edmund marries Mary. Fanny is happy for them and finds that she is attached to Henry, who renews his addresses and is rewarded with Fanny's hand.
I would like to say that I am one of those readers who is completely satisfied with the way in which JA completes MP. I never thought that the actions of the Crawfords was out of character for them.I always felt that they were morally deficient. However, I found this alternative ending to be very believable. And, because it is written very much in the style of Austen, there were times when I felt that she could have written it this way. I recommend this short booklet, especially for those who find the Crawfords to be the true heroes of Mansfield Park.
4 Cloutman's Lane
EX33 1 NG