Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mansfield Park Read-Along | Week 2


Welcome to Week 2 of the Mansfield Park read-along! If you aren't familiar with the details, you can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 12 chapters per week.)

Today we're going to discuss chapters 13-18 (Volume I) and chapters 1-6 (Volume II). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Mansfield Park read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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Mansfield Park Volume I: Chapters 13-18 and
Volume II: Chapters 1-6

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "Fanny looked on and listened, not unamused to observe the selfishness which, more or less disguised, seemed to govern them all, and wondering how it would end." [I feel like this idea fits the whole book...]
  • "...her books—of which she had been a collector, from the first hour of her commanding a shilling..." [I love that Fanny is a collector of books!]
  • "The music which Sir Thomas called for from his daughters helped to conceal the want of real harmony." [This line is sad but beautifully composed. Pun intended!]
  • "There is nobleness in the name of Edmund. It is a name of heroism and renown—of kings, princes, and knights; and seems to breathe the spirit of chivalry and warm affections." [Aww, Fanny...]

General Impressions

Well, the conclusion of Volume I brings an end to the theatrical scheme at Mansfield...and an end to an era, in a sense, now that Sir Thomas has returned home at long last. With the beginning of Volume II, we see several people leave: Mr. Yates, Mr. Crawford, and Maria and Mr. Rushworth, now married and taking Julia with them for a time. This paves the way for Fanny to be brought into the spotlight—against her will, for the most part.

Just because the play ended before it could really begin doesn't mean the drama has ended at Mansfield, that's for sure! I feel quite sad for the marriage between Maria and Mr. Rushworth; pride and a need for independence hardly make a strong foundation for the future. And the fact that Maria wants her sister with them on what appears to be a honeymoon of sorts doesn't offer much hope for a growing love and intimacy.

I thought it was really sweet that Sir Thomas actually approached Maria, wanting to know her thoughts and encouraging her to be open if her impending marriage was no longer what she wanted. But then, he's hardly disappointed when she still chooses to get married, and it's a bit frustrating how Sir Thomas justifies the relationship and clings to his own sense of gain in the matter. Alas!

And then the man who did such damage to Maria's and Julia's hearts returns...wanting to claim Fanny's, solely for the sake of conquest. Poor Fanny! Her brother's arrival is both a blessing and a curse. So far it seems to preoccupy her and keep her from dwelling too much on Mr. Crawford; but her obvious affection for her brother is only endearing her to Mr. Crawford even more, which is not a good turn of events.

As for Edmund and Miss Crawford, I'm not sure what to say. Miss Crawford has her moments of kindness, in a sense, but her friendship with Fanny stems from boredom and a need for company. I don't know if Edmund is learning any lessons from all that's already happened. He's so blinded by his infatuation with Miss Crawford.

Be wise, Fanny and Edmund! The Crawfords could do a lot of damage...

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. If you were one of Maria's parents, what might you have said to her before the wedding?

2. What are your thoughts on the friendship between Fanny and Miss Crawford? What would you recommend to improve their relationship?

3. Consider Mr. Crawford's sudden interest in Fanny or Edmund's admiration of Miss Crawford. What makes them so attractive to these guys? What would you consider to be valid reasons for falling in love?

Join us next Wednesday for our third discussion! 
(Vol. II: Ch. 6-13 and Vol. III: Ch. 1-5)

10 comments:

Julie said...

Your assessment of Sir Thomas and his feelings about Maria's marriage are spot on! But, I totally get it! ha! As parents we want the best for our children, we may know that they are walking down a path that isn't right and it is easier to turn a blind eye than to confront. We like to make ourselves believe that all is well..then we don't have to deal with reality. Ack! A sad thing for sure!

The Crawford's are a pretty selfish young brother and sister, but like you say, it seems to be the theme of the story. Selfishness is certainly abounding in all of them...except for maybe Fanny who isn't given an opportunity to be selfish with constantly being put in her place and told what her place is by her Aunt Norris! Oh that woman gets on my last nerve and I really want to give her a blast of my ire!

As I said in my post, I really like the way Sir Thomas puts his household back in order when he returns. They all knew that he wouldn't approve, and they were right! If only Edmund had lived up to his moral calling, but then again if only all of us would! Eeep!

Still not my favorite, but I did find myself wanting to continue reading to find out what shenanigans they would find next to occupy their boredom. It sounds like they all need jobs to keep them out of trouble and from making sport of others!

My post is here: https://myfavoritepastime.blogspot.com/2018/01/mansfield-park-read-along-week-2.html

Looking forward to our next week's reading and discussion!

Amber Holcomb said...

Julie,

So true! None of us want confrontation...perhaps even more so within your own family. And it's hard to blame Sir Thomas for his relief in not having to deal with the fallout of a broken engagement. But as you say, it's still sad, knowing Maria's lack of love or respect for Mr. Rushworth!

Also true that poor Fanny doesn't even get the chance to be selfish. :( Not that she would choose to be or that we'd want her to be...but yes, ugh to Mrs. Norris and how she always puts Fanny down!

Enjoyed your post and insights, friend! :) And this line is perfect: "It sounds like they all need jobs to keep them out of trouble and from making sport of others!" Amen! LOL

I'm looking forward to chatting with you again next week, too!

~Amber

Miranda Atchley said...

I'm so ready for someone to put Henry Crawford in his place. He certainly needs it! And I'm ready for Miss Crawford to make her departure from Mansfield Park, as well. Those two are up to no good! I love the quotes you chose; especially the about Fanny and her books!

Another wonderful post, Ms. Amber! Looking forward to our next discussion! :-)

lona manning said...

I just wanted to mention that leading up to this point, we have seen the characters go through the trip to Sotherton, where Fanny sees Maria being sorely tempted. The trip through the gate into the freedom of the park is symbolic of how she wants to be rid of Mr. Rushworth and go off with Mr. Crawford. The play, too, is about forbidden love and Fanny has had to watch Maria falling more and more under Mr. Crawford's spell at the same time that Edmund fall under Mary Crawford's spell. All that poor Fanny can do is watch! Her low status in the household prevents her from speaking to Maria and Julia about the peril they are in and her secret love for Edmund keeps her from sharing her true feelings with Edmund.

Ginette B said...

Fanny and Miss Crawford aren't really friends. Fanny is too private to open up to anyone after such a short time, and she knows that Miss Crawford just cares about her on a very superficial level. Miss Crawford is a clever and accomplished version of Miss Bingley - someone who will join into an alliance of convenience as long as it brings her advantages. That's not to say that she doesn't like Fanny - she just finds her a bit boring - and she spends time with her because a) there's nobody else around, and b) she hopes to worm her way into Edmund's life by befriending Fanny (as she instinctively knows Fanny is important to Edmund). She's tempted to draw her out so she can make her 'fall', if you know what I mean. Fanny is polite, but cautious in her presence, and I believe that Miss Crawford notices this - and it amuses her to a certain extent. She's a very spoilt person, used to having the upper hand. The same goes for Mr Crawford. Basically, the Crawfords are used to manipulating others, and they are utterly bored with their lives. - So, I wouldn't recommend anything to improve Fanny's & Miss Crawford's relationship. I'd rather tell Fanny to be very careful and tell Miss Crawford off for her shallowness :-)

Amber Holcomb said...

Miranda,

Thank you so much, friend! :) Yes, I agree - it would be great to have someone actually confront Mr. Crawford about his habits and behavior! Poor Fanny...we've discovered she isn't very effective at speaking firmly. But wouldn't it be great if Sir Thomas or Edmund knew the whole truth and would actually put Mr. Crawford in his place? And Miss Crawford...I think some time away from Mansfield would be good for everyone involved. ;)

~Amber

Amber Holcomb said...

Iona,

Thank you for sharing your insights! Those are great points about the "forbidden" symbolism and about why Fanny can't really speak up regarding the wrong things she's seeing. Poor girl! She sees more than the rest, but she can't share her wisdom with them. :(

Glad you stopped by!

~Amber

Amber Holcomb said...

Ginette,

I enjoy reading your thoughts! You have some great insights on Miss Crawford and her relationship with Fanny. :) I loved in the previous discussion when you said that Miss Crawford is like a Lizzy Bennet minus the kindness and self-reflection...and now I love your comparison of Miss Crawford to Miss Bingley, showing that she's conniving but also clever and accomplished in a way that draws Edmund's regard. Such fitting comparisons and contrasts!

And great response to the question. ;) It seems like everyone's on the same page about not encouraging the friendship between Fanny and Miss Crawford!

It's been awesome to have you and Iona join our read-along and share your thoughts - thank you!

~Amber

MovieCritic said...

Hey, Amber!

I am so sorry that I am so late!

I love all those quotes! Fanny is so sweet. I love that she, too, is a collector of books! Another thing that we have in common.

That is a very good warning, it would be best if Fanny and Edmund would just stay away from the Crawfords!

Thank you once again for hosting this!!!

~MovieCritic

Amber Holcomb said...

MovieCritic,

And I apologize for the long delay in replying! But you have no need to be sorry, friend; you're more than welcome to post whenever you want and whenever works with your schedule. :)

I totally agree with Fanny's sweetness, and how the fact that she collects books makes her all the more endearing to us. :)

Thank you for participating with such fun and thoughtful posts! *hugs*

~Amber