Reply
Contributor
awashburn
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎04-29-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)



ROSIE wrote:
 
It is also interesting that this would be a match between first (?) cousins if it occurred.  There must have been less of a taboo of marriage between cousins then.
 
rosie



That makes me chuckle...The characters are so desperate to come across as prominent and important...and to us the relationship seems a little creepy.  Gotta love perspective!
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I see what you're saying, but is it really a function of the culture, or a function of Mrs. Norris herself? Would she be a more appealing, nicere person if she had been born 200 years later?

She does, after all, get a husband, and perhaps the best husband that her character deserves?

Isn't it interesting what different positions each of the three sisters married into? One into poverty, one into aristocratic luxury, and one into the church, which is respectable but hardly (at least in his case, though there were some very wealthy clergymen, as we see in Trollope) a life of luxury. One sort of wonders what their growing-up home life was like that the three would turn out so differently.

awashburn wrote:


Everyman wrote:
awashburn wrote: Mrs. Norris is a byproduct of the concept of late 18th century marriage, and I think the development of her character allows us to see from whence much of her resentment stems.

I would love to have you (or anybody else!) expand on this a bit.
Ok, I guess what I mean is that Mrs. Norris, as well as any other woman during this period, is only qualified as fulfilled (by society's standards) if she has a husband. I think Austen highlights this in one of the first pages where she states that there were far more pretty women than available men...it's a competition, and the losers become spinsters, having no real worth in anyone's regard.
Mrs. Norris, as we find out, is not capable of landing a man with the same financial success as her sister, and so she must settle for the reverend...and I do mean settle. If she does not do this, she may end up married to someone of even lower repute or not married at all...both of which are painted as intolerable by Austen...in this and many other novels.
So...although Mrs. Norris is not a character I would like to befriend and/or emulate, I have an understanding that her actions may stem from societal sources rather than a rotten core. And part of me thinks that Austen wants readers to see that.


Message Edited by awashburn on 05-07-2008 03:35 PM


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Nice points. But are you really surprised that Sir Thomas acts this way? Isn't he reflecting the strictures of his society? His daughters have the right to expect superior marriages; Fanny has no such reasonable expectation. He has to make sure that she doesn't think too much of herself so that she will be disappointed in her eventual options of husbands. (We think of the way in which Emma raises Miss Smith's expectations, thinking she deserves a better marriage than society will permit her.)

As to whether he regrets his marriage, isn't it the case that several of Austen's parental marriages are ones we today wouldn't see as ideal? I think, for example, of the Bennets.


awashburn wrote:
I find it fascinating how Sir Thomas stresses that Fanny's inferiority must be preserved in the family structure. I can't help but wonder if Julia and Maria would be so nasty if they were not, in essence, instructed to be so.
Likewise, Sir Thomas' preoccupation with the potential of one of his sons falling in love with Fanny seems interesting. Is he somehow intimidated by the lower classes in general or Fanny specifically? And if so, why Fanny specifically when he his fear is manifested prior to ever meeting her?
In theory...and this is just a guess...could he inadvertently be regretful of his marriage to Lady Bertram (it was specifically stated that she was below him) and show this through his great concern that his own sons would marry beneath them?



_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Ashley -- and others -- isn't it possible that, for humans, strength and vulnerability, or vulnerability and strength, are inextricably interrelated?

awashburn wrote:


nvoggesser wrote:

To bring this back together.....I think there's another side to Mrs. Norris, a very private side, that place where she worries about how she appears to others, where she stresses over expectations, where she dreads the interactions with others of whom she wants to fit in with, but knows that she doesn't and, indeed, possibly can't.  That side of Mrs. Norris, to me, is very wonderful and I don't know how or why I see that in her except that I make connections from others who put on that "front" to the world when deep inside they are insecure.

I think I fall somewhere between you and some of the earlier, harsher, opinions of Mrs. Norris.  Where you are seeing vulnerability, I am seeing strength.  I don't envision Mrs. Norris in her private life because, to some extent, that doesn't really say very much to me.  What has infinitely more meaning, in my mind, is the fact that she clearly is making an attempt at adopting a role, though she seems to "rebel" against it. What appeals to me is that she seems to be full of "piss and vinegar"....and  I appreciate that, even at Fanny's expense.



"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Contributor
nvoggesser
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Mrs. Norris and Sir Thomas

OK...maybe this is just a tad bit strange, but I remember getting this vibe the last time I read the novel and was kind of surprised that I picked up on it again this time (I have to admit that, due to the end of the school year hysterics, I'm going quite slow at reading the novel this time)....
 
Anyway...I think there's a little somethin'-somethin' going on between Mrs. Norris and Sir Thomas.  Whether it's as mild as a serious crush on the part of Mrs. Norris or a secret affair going on -- for some reason I'm getting this vibe.
 
Granted...it's probably just wishful thinking on the part of Mrs. Norris, but think about the fireworks if they ever did get together.  Whew! 
Contributor
awashburn
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎04-29-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

I guess this reverts back to nature vs. nurture.  I don't perceive Mrs. Norris, or any of the characters, being inherently one way or the other.  I think they are all, including Fanny, products of their environment.
 
While she does marry, I don't see this as being an accomplishment, but rather a necessity.  Also, I don't know that I see Mrs. Norris getting a husband "that she deserves" because I don't necessarily see this reflected in her sisters' marriages...or at least I don't feel encouraged to believe that.  Lady Bertram seems no more deserving of a husband than Mrs. Norris...not because of what we see...but rather because we don't learn enough about them to come to this conclusion.  I don't feel comfortable making that assumption for Mrs. Norris when I can't make the same assumption for the other sisters.
 
I also think it's interesting to examine how we perceive the children of these various households (granted Mrs. Norris does not have any, but that might be very telling).  The protagonist is a product of an impoverished home...raised in a wealthy, if not welcoming, home...closely monitored by a clergyman's wife.  That's rather thought provoking.

Everyman wrote:
I see what you're saying, but is it really a function of the culture, or a function of Mrs. Norris herself? Would she be a more appealing, nicere person if she had been born 200 years later?

She does, after all, get a husband, and perhaps the best husband that her character deserves?

Isn't it interesting what different positions each of the three sisters married into? One into poverty, one into aristocratic luxury, and one into the church, which is respectable but hardly (at least in his case, though there were some very wealthy clergymen, as we see in Trollope) a life of luxury. One sort of wonders what their growing-up home life was like that the three would turn out so differently.

Message Edited by awashburn on 05-07-2008 03:35 PM





Contributor
awashburn
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎04-29-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Related?  Yes, but while they work hand in hand, I don't seem them as synonomous.  Is Mrs. Norris discontent because she identifies her vulnerability...not only a personal vulnerability but also the vulnerabilities of her gender...as a reason for a less than satisfactory marriage/life?  Of course.

Peppermill wrote:
Ashley -- and others -- isn't it possible that, for humans, strength and vulnerability, or vulnerability and strength, are inextricably interrelated?


New User
uacatz
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Mrs. Norris reminds Fanny that she is not the equal to those around her in societal status. This is interesting, because as someone had mentioned earlier, Mrs. Norris had to settle in her marriage. Mrs. Norris' social status is not the same as that of her sister, but she comes off as being much higher and mightier than she should. Her condescension towards Fanny is quite unwarranted.
Distinguished Bibliophile
dulcinea3
Posts: 4,372
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Perhaps one of Mrs. Norris' motivations in encouraging one of her sister Price's children to be brought to Mansfield was precisely so that she would have someone around who was lower in the pecking order than Mrs. Norris herself.  It must have been tiring for her to be toadying up to Sir Thomas and his family all the time; having someone to pick on and criticise is probably a form of relaxation to her.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Your post points out nicely that a woman's status in Austen's day was based on her husband's status, not on her birth status. Lady Bertram, Mrs. Norris, and Mrs. Price were raised in the same family, with presumably the status of their father prior to their marriage (we hear virtually nothing of their pre-marital lives other than that Lady Bertran was perceived to have married up and Mrs. Price to have married down, so perhaps Mrs. Norris is closest to her original status.) At any rate, now that they are married, as you point out, Lady Norris sees her social status as lower than her sister Lady Bertram and higher than her sister Price. Obviously, then, these views of status are based on their husands, not their, birth status.


uacatz wrote:
Mrs. Norris reminds Fanny that she is not the equal to those around her in societal status. This is interesting, because as someone had mentioned earlier, Mrs. Norris had to settle in her marriage. Mrs. Norris' social status is not the same as that of her sister, but she comes off as being much higher and mightier than she should. Her condescension towards Fanny is quite unwarranted.


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Interesting thought!

dulcinea3 wrote:
Perhaps one of Mrs. Norris' motivations in encouraging one of her sister Price's children to be brought to Mansfield was precisely so that she would have someone around who was lower in the pecking order than Mrs. Norris herself. It must have been tiring for her to be toadying up to Sir Thomas and his family all the time; having someone to pick on and criticise is probably a form of relaxation to her.



_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Scribe
Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

That's a fascinating idea, Dulcinea!



dulcinea3 wrote:
Perhaps one of Mrs. Norris' motivations in encouraging one of her sister Price's children to be brought to Mansfield was precisely so that she would have someone around who was lower in the pecking order than Mrs. Norris herself. It must have been tiring for her to be toadying up to Sir Thomas and his family all the time; having someone to pick on and criticise is probably a form of relaxation to her.



"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Distinguished Bibliophile
dulcinea3
Posts: 4,372
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

Thanks!  And, thinking further, perhaps Mrs. Norris also thought that it would elevate her own standing with the Bertrams if they had someone of a still lower social status to compare her to.  She may have felt that any one of the Price children would be so socially inept that she herself would shine all the more.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)

My only question about this is, would she be clever enough to think this far ahead?

dulcinea3 wrote:
Thanks! And, thinking further, perhaps Mrs. Norris also thought that it would elevate her own standing with the Bertrams if they had someone of a still lower social status to compare her to. She may have felt that any one of the Price children would be so socially inept that she herself would shine all the more.



_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Bibliophile
dulcinea3
Posts: 4,372
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Chapters 1 - 12 (No Spoilers, Please!)



Everyman wrote:
My only question about this is, would she be clever enough to think this far ahead?

dulcinea3 wrote:
Thanks! And, thinking further, perhaps Mrs. Norris also thought that it would elevate her own standing with the Bertrams if they had someone of a still lower social status to compare her to. She may have felt that any one of the Price children would be so socially inept that she herself would shine all the more.





I suspect that, in matters of her own self-interest, she can think further ahead than she would perhaps normally do!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
Users Online
Currently online:58 members 602 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: