Reading the Classics discussion

Past Group Reads > Mansfield Park chapters19-25 (Vol.2 ch. 1-7)

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Post comments here for these chapters.

message 2: by Lois (new)

Lois (loisbennett) | 22 comments Mary and Fanny are so different. I'm quite surprised by Edmund's liking for Mary... she has been so cold and superficial about a number of things that are important to him, yet he's still all dreamy-eyed. Poor Fanny!

message 3: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
Yes, Mary is continually trying to change Edmund's mind about becoming a clergyman, suggesting many other more profitable professions for him. One wonders how much she really loves him or the position that would come with marrying into his family? However, it would be a lower position if he were just a clergyman. Any thoughts?

message 4: by Lois (new)

Lois (loisbennett) | 22 comments I din't think she loves him at all - love means sacrifice, and putting the other person first - I think Mary's far too selfish for that. I think she's attracted to the fact that Edmund's father has a title and a high place in society - after all, she initially had her sights set on Tom until he persisted in not giving her the time of day!

message 5: by Jenn, moderator (new)

Jenn | 303 comments Mod
But as second son, Edmund won't have the title so why would she bother with him if she is only interested in title or position. I think originally that was what she wanted when she was pursuing Tom, but now she has feelings for Edmund. You can feel a sort of love for someone and still go in wanting to change them, people think that way all the time. Of course, that never works out well for relationships.

message 6: by Lois (new)

Lois (loisbennett) | 22 comments Yeah...

message 7: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments The only credit I can give Mary is that she seems to genuinely be torn in her thoughts and opinions as far as Edmund is concerned, over whether she loves him enough to be with a clergyman, or would only love the position of rank? She's not the only person to struggle with this question, so I find it honest and relatable. At least in this section of the book. But some of the things she says to and about Edmund and the clergy are so cutting, I can't fathom why he is attracted to her.

message 8: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer  | 163 comments I can't figure out Edmund's attraction either. At this point in the book, I do believe that Mary has genuine feelings for him, but that she is superficial and materialistic enough to reject him on the basis of his future career in spite of those feelings. However, we can see from the rift in the relationship between Lady Betram and Mrs. Norris and Fanny's mother the significance of social status at these times, so I can't judge her too harshly at this point.

message 9: by Sheryl (new)

Sheryl Tribble | 99 comments I think Edmund excuses Mary a lot based on her background. When she talks of clergy and clergymen, he "hears" her Admiral uncle speaking through her, and thinks that she is echoing someone else's opinions rather than ones she has formed on her own and is committed to.

I also think he believes she will be swayed by his opinion in time -- he so easily shaped Fanny's opinions that he figures women are more malleable than they really are! What Edmund doesn't realize is that even Fanny would not have so easily responded to his influence if they didn't have so many things in common; had Tom been the one to take the time to try to be friends with her, he could have gotten love and friendship, but he could never have gotten her to be interested in many of the things he loves or to share some of his opinions about them.

Although it's clear Mary does have many good impulses; the problem is she doesn't stick to them or value them any more highly than her not-so-good impulses. She protests to Henry's scheme of charming Fanny and she doesn't want Fanny to be hurt, but she doesn't care enough to do much more than a bit of protest. She also under-rates the potential harm, but at least she sees it as an issue.

I think Edmund is right in believing that Mary's husband could influence her considerably for the better. She has the ability and willingness to be a caring person, it just hasn't been encouraged or cultivated. Where Edmund goes wrong is in thinking he could do this. Women in that culture were expected to work at conforming to their husband's preferences; Mary really doesn't fit that mold. Mary would need someone more like Emma's Mr. Knightly, someone with an equally powerful temperament who recognizes her schemes early on and firmly calls her on them, using logic and facts rather than gentle persuasion.

Edmund would never have that much influence on Mary. If she were already his match in moral perspective and religious beliefs, she'd manage him subtly enough they'd both be quite happy. But since they don't agree on what's most important to him, and since she's will never be as easily influenced by her lover or husband as Edmund believes, they would be constantly battling and unhappy. Edmund doesn't manage; he gently guides. Mary needs managing.

I couldn't remember and was wondering earlier if Mary suspected Fanny's romantic feelings toward Edmund yet; in this section it says Mary does not, which I think is very telling. Even though Fanny comes across as frail and blushing all the time and constantly controlled by others, she must have considerable self-control and awareness in order to disguise her clear interest in Edmund from such an observant witness.

Fanny has deliberately chosen her approach to that situation, and she's carrying it off, which speaks of an unexpected determination and steadiness of purpose.

back to top