The Crawfords are the kids that transfer in mid-year of your senior year and steal your crush of five years because they are new (but not necessarily better, hotter or smarter). Then we have poor Fanny stuck in the corner silently observing as always. When will it ever be her time to shine?!
There are a lot more Regency references in this chunk that are significant. Mary is vastly concerned with whether or not Fanny is “out” in society. Miss Crawford also gets slammed with the idea of Edmund, the second son, having to have a career (GASP!). There is a lot riding in the significance of estates and the money behind them (trip to Sotherton).
What is lacking in the discussion is manners. Mrs Norris is horrid to Fanny, as always, going out of her way to try to prevent her from joining the party to Sotherton. Mary speaks out of turn about he uncle and Edmund, in a private conversation with Fanny, is easily swayed into making excuses for her behavior. Tom Bertram is absent altogether, which is telling of how much he’s really learned and matured.
Most importantly we hear slightly more from Fanny, but we see that she might as well be invisible and silent to the rest of the players. She sits by as Mary makes her rude comments, Edmund becomes enamored with her, Maria flirts with Mr Crawford and Mr Rushworth is upset by the turn of events. I feel that Fanny’s role as the observer is important to watch. She has no investment in the societal games going on around her, and she has no reason to be with no accomplishments or inheritance, but the liminal space she inhabits is perfect for observing the drama behind the curtain.
Also, as we see the Crawfords becoming more entangled with the Bertrams let us keep in mind their descriptions:
“most allowably a sweet, pretty girl, while they were the finest young women in the country.
Her brother was not handsome: no, when they first saw him he was absolutely plain, black and plain; but still he was the gentleman, with a pleasing address. The second meeting proved him not so very plain: he was plain, to be sure, but then he had so much countenance, and his teeth were so good, and he was so well made, that one soon forgot he was plain; and after a third interview, after dining in company with him at the Parsonage, he was no longer allowed to be called so by anybody.”
“I am very strong. Nothing ever fatigues me but doing what I do not like.” Mary
“Edmund was beginning, at the end of a week of such intercourse, to be a good deal in love;”
“With such warm feelings and lively spirits it must be difficult to do justice to her affection for Mrs. Crawford, without throwing a shade on the Admiral.” Mary Crawford, original shade thrower.
“Mr. Rushworth,” said Lady Bertram, “if I were you, I would have a very pretty shrubbery. One likes to get out into a shrubbery in fine weather.”
Why do you think Fanny is so silent? What factors of her upbringing do you think set her up for being so docile? She clearly picks up on a lot, but lacks the ability to be vocal.
What would you do if you were Fanny?
Do you think Mary is in it for the sport of flirting with all the men?
Do you think Fanny’s place is more of an extra maid than an adopted daughter?
What do you think of the roles the homes are playing in this section?
Next week: chapters 11-16!
-Admin B is a journalist, filmmaker and nerd.