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ConnieAnnKirk
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Chapters 13 - 24 (No Spoilers, Please!)

If you would like to discuss the book as you read, this thread is for the second quarter of the book.  Please avoid posting any plot spoilers after Chapter 24.
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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dulcinea3
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Mrs. Norris, cont.

To continue with the discussion of Mrs. Norris, begun in the thread for the first section of the novel:
 
I also think that Mrs. Norris is trying to live vicariously through her wealthier sister and her family.  She is constantly sucking up to them and complimenting them.  She wants to be indispensible to them, as well.  She takes all the credit for the match between Maria and Mr. Rushworth.  I thought it was priceless when she decided that she was so needed for the play that she should move in with them while preparations were going on!
 
The scheme advanced.  Opposition was vain; and as to
Mrs. Norris, he was mistaken in supposing she would wish
to make any.  She started no difficulties that were
not talked down in five minutes by her eldest nephew
and niece, who were all-powerful with her; and as the
whole arrangement was to bring very little expense
to anybody, and none at all to herself, as she foresaw
in it all the comforts of hurry, bustle, and importance,
and derived the immediate advantage of fancying herself
obliged to leave her own house, where she had been living
a month at her own cost, and take up her abode in theirs,
that every hour might be spent in their service, she was,
in fact, exceedingly delighted with the project.

 
I think that she realizes that she is of a lower social class than the Bertrams (of course, by way of marriage), but she is trying to make it seem that she is, in fact, part of their group, in order to appear to be of a higher class herself.  This may also explain some of her attitude towards Fanny.  Fanny is even lower on the social scale than Mrs. Norris, and therefore reminds her of her own inferiority in respect to the Bertrams.  In addition, Fanny has been taken into the Bertram family, and may leapfrog over her into the upper class, so she is especially eager to keep Fanny down.
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dulcinea3
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The Play

I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of the characters towards the idea of a little amateur theatrics.  I can understand that Sir Thomas wouldn't want his children to go on the stage professionally, but I don't quite see why it is so scandalous that a house party should want to perform a play, among friends and family.  What makes it so different from any other entertainment that they could find for themselves, such as Charades?  Both Edmund and Fanny simply recoil at the very idea, and their feelings are borne out when Sir Thomas returns.
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awashburn
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Re: The Play



dulcinea3 wrote:
I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of the characters towards the idea of a little amateur theatrics.  I can understand that Sir Thomas wouldn't want his children to go on the stage professionally, but I don't quite see why it is so scandalous that a house party should want to perform a play, among friends and family.  What makes it so different from any other entertainment that they could find for themselves, such as Charades?  Both Edmund and Fanny simply recoil at the very idea, and their feelings are borne out when Sir Thomas returns.


I guess there's the common belief that acting is somehow provincial and common...but if you think about the importance of everyone's "roles"...acting allows for the transcendence of someone's position, which might be an indication of Sir Thomas' protest.  He is so greatly concerned with everyone maintaining societal roles, that I can understand his anxiety. 
 
Charades, to me, revolves around simple words and phrases whereas acting involves characterization and the belief that you "are" that person.
 
That doesn't explain Fanny and Edmund's reluctance, however, because they each seem to desire transcendence of some sort.
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Re: Mrs. Norris, cont.



dulcinea3 wrote:
 
I think that she realizes that she is of a lower social class than the Bertrams (of course, by way of marriage), but she is trying to make it seem that she is, in fact, part of their group, in order to appear to be of a higher class herself.  This may also explain some of her attitude towards Fanny.  Fanny is even lower on the social scale than Mrs. Norris, and therefore reminds her of her own inferiority in respect to the Bertrams.  In addition, Fanny has been taken into the Bertram family, and may leapfrog over her into the upper class, so she is especially eager to keep Fanny down.


I think Mrs. Norris can also perceive that Fanny is, in essence, a better person than she, and that might be even more galling than social graces.
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Laurel
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Re: The Play

I think the main objection may have been to having an unmarried pair act like husband and wife. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pair who do so.

awashburn wrote:


dulcinea3 wrote:
I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of the characters towards the idea of a little amateur theatrics. I can understand that Sir Thomas wouldn't want his children to go on the stage professionally, but I don't quite see why it is so scandalous that a house party should want to perform a play, among friends and family. What makes it so different from any other entertainment that they could find for themselves, such as Charades? Both Edmund and Fanny simply recoil at the very idea, and their feelings are borne out when Sir Thomas returns.


I guess there's the common belief that acting is somehow provincial and common...but if you think about the importance of everyone's "roles"...acting allows for the transcendence of someone's position, which might be an indication of Sir Thomas' protest. He is so greatly concerned with everyone maintaining societal roles, that I can understand his anxiety.
Charades, to me, revolves around simple words and phrases whereas acting involves characterization and the belief that you "are" that person.
That doesn't explain Fanny and Edmund's reluctance, however, because they each seem to desire transcendence of some sort.



"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
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dulcinea3
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Re: The Play



Laurel wrote:
I think the main objection may have been to having an unmarried pair act like husband and wife. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pair who do so.

awashburn wrote:


dulcinea3 wrote:
I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of the characters towards the idea of a little amateur theatrics. I can understand that Sir Thomas wouldn't want his children to go on the stage professionally, but I don't quite see why it is so scandalous that a house party should want to perform a play, among friends and family. What makes it so different from any other entertainment that they could find for themselves, such as Charades? Both Edmund and Fanny simply recoil at the very idea, and their feelings are borne out when Sir Thomas returns.


I guess there's the common belief that acting is somehow provincial and common...but if you think about the importance of everyone's "roles"...acting allows for the transcendence of someone's position, which might be an indication of Sir Thomas' protest. He is so greatly concerned with everyone maintaining societal roles, that I can understand his anxiety.
Charades, to me, revolves around simple words and phrases whereas acting involves characterization and the belief that you "are" that person.
That doesn't explain Fanny and Edmund's reluctance, however, because they each seem to desire transcendence of some sort.





I haven't finished the whole play, but I read the first few acts, and it appears that the characters played by Maria and Crawford were mother and son.  I was surprised, as I had assumed it was a romantic relationship that they were portraying.
 
I just found this short synopsis of the play, also indicating who plays which part in the novel:
 
 
So Mr. Yates would have ended up with Maria at the end of the play!
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Laurel
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Re: The Play

Well there goes my theory. Thanks, Dulcinea, for checking that out. Though I guess "mother and son" embraces are still embraces--'A hug is still a hug;/you're right, I'm being smug.'

dulcinea3 wrote:


Laurel wrote:
I think the main objection may have been to having an unmarried pair act like husband and wife. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pair who do so.

awashburn wrote:


dulcinea3 wrote:
I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of the characters towards the idea of a little amateur theatrics. I can understand that Sir Thomas wouldn't want his children to go on the stage professionally, but I don't quite see why it is so scandalous that a house party should want to perform a play, among friends and family. What makes it so different from any other entertainment that they could find for themselves, such as Charades? Both Edmund and Fanny simply recoil at the very idea, and their feelings are borne out when Sir Thomas returns.


I guess there's the common belief that acting is somehow provincial and common...but if you think about the importance of everyone's "roles"...acting allows for the transcendence of someone's position, which might be an indication of Sir Thomas' protest. He is so greatly concerned with everyone maintaining societal roles, that I can understand his anxiety.
Charades, to me, revolves around simple words and phrases whereas acting involves characterization and the belief that you "are" that person.
That doesn't explain Fanny and Edmund's reluctance, however, because they each seem to desire transcendence of some sort.





I haven't finished the whole play, but I read the first few acts, and it appears that the characters played by Maria and Crawford were mother and son. I was surprised, as I had assumed it was a romantic relationship that they were portraying.
I just found this short synopsis of the play, also indicating who plays which part in the novel:
So Mr. Yates would have ended up with Maria at the end of the play!



"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
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awashburn
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Re: The Play

I think you have a point...any encouragement of physical contact would have its consequences.  Also, if you want to stretch the interpretation a little, it would be an unmarried woman playing the part of a married woman...which implies some sort of sexual relationship.
 
As tangential as that sounds...people seemed pretty uptight.
 

Laurel wrote:
Well there goes my theory. Thanks, Dulcinea, for checking that out. Though I guess "mother and son" embraces are still embraces--'A hug is still a hug;/you're right, I'm being smug.'

dulcinea3 wrote:


Laurel wrote:
I think the main objection may have been to having an unmarried pair act like husband and wife. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pair who do so.


I haven't finished the whole play, but I read the first few acts, and it appears that the characters played by Maria and Crawford were mother and son. I was surprised, as I had assumed it was a romantic relationship that they were portraying.
I just found this short synopsis of the play, also indicating who plays which part in the novel:
So Mr. Yates would have ended up with Maria at the end of the play!






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dulcinea3
Posts: 4,389
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Re: The Play



awashburn wrote:
I think you have a point...any encouragement of physical contact would have its consequences.  Also, if you want to stretch the interpretation a little, it would be an unmarried woman playing the part of a married woman...which implies some sort of sexual relationship.
 
As tangential as that sounds...people seemed pretty uptight.
 

Laurel wrote:
Well there goes my theory. Thanks, Dulcinea, for checking that out. Though I guess "mother and son" embraces are still embraces--'A hug is still a hug;/you're right, I'm being smug.'

dulcinea3 wrote:


Laurel wrote:
I think the main objection may have been to having an unmarried pair act like husband and wife. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pair who do so.


I haven't finished the whole play, but I read the first few acts, and it appears that the characters played by Maria and Crawford were mother and son. I was surprised, as I had assumed it was a romantic relationship that they were portraying.
I just found this short synopsis of the play, also indicating who plays which part in the novel:
So Mr. Yates would have ended up with Maria at the end of the play!








Nope, the character of Agatha, although a mother, was unmarried!  I suppose an unmarried mother would suggest sexuality even more than a married one.  And yet, this apparently immoral woman is 'more sinned against than sinner', and so is judged favorably, from what I could make out from what I have read so far.
 
I can see where the subject matter of Lovers' Vows would be a problem for such moral, upstanding people as Edmund and Fanny, but they seemed dead set against the performing of a play before the play itself was selected.  So the selection of the most wholesome play in the world would still apparently have been wrong in their eyes.
 
Actually, I think that Fanny gets most (or all) of her moral views from Edmund, and that she objects just because he does, and because he says that Sir Thomas will disapprove.  Hence, she must be very confused when he changes his mind and convinces himself to participate in the play (due to his infatuation with Miss Crawford, although he is at great pains to insist that it is because he does not want a further outsider brought in to take the part).  Fanny seems to enjoy watching the rehearsals, though.  And even Sir Thomas does not seem particularly upset over their doing a play when he arrives home; when Lady Bertran tells him about it, he simply asks what they are performing (although they don't tell him).  He doesn't seem to object until he sees the alterations they have made to his office and the billiard room, and even then he says that the carpenter has done a good job.  I think another reason he ends up objecting is that he knows something of Mr. Yates, and is not pleased to find him at Mansfield Park as Tom's friend.
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Re: The Play

And yet I question whether or not Sir Thomas' agitation is out of concern for his child or for himself.
 
I like the idea of examining Edmund's influence on Fanny.  Because he is seeking to pursue the church, I'm wondering if we are meant to somehow juxtapose him with Mr. and Mrs. Norris.

dulcinea3 wrote:
Actually, I think that Fanny gets most (or all) of her moral views from Edmund, and that she objects just because he does, and because he says that Sir Thomas will disapprove.  Hence, she must be very confused when he changes his mind and convinces himself to participate in the play (due to his infatuation with Miss Crawford, although he is at great pains to insist that it is because he does not want a further outsider brought in to take the part).  Fanny seems to enjoy watching the rehearsals, though.  And even Sir Thomas does not seem particularly upset over their doing a play when he arrives home; when Lady Bertran tells him about it, he simply asks what they are performing (although they don't tell him).  He doesn't seem to object until he sees the alterations they have made to his office and the billiard room, and even then he says that the carpenter has done a good job.  I think another reason he ends up objecting is that he knows something of Mr. Yates, and is not pleased to find him at Mansfield Park as Tom's friend.



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dulcinea3
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Re: The Play



awashburn wrote:
And yet I question whether or not Sir Thomas' agitation is out of concern for his child or for himself.

Both, I think.  He is not pleased with Tom's behavior and spending, and from what he has heard of Yates, I'm sure he feels that he will be a further bad influence on Tom. 
 
Mr. Yates's family and connexions were sufficiently known
to him to render his introduction as the "particular friend,"
another of the hundred particular friends of his son,
exceedingly unwelcome...
 
At the same time, once he arrives home, he wants peace and quiet, surrounded by his family, so he is most anxious for Yates to leave on that account, as well.
 
Another day or two, and Mr. Yates was gone likewise.
In _his_ departure Sir Thomas felt the chief interest:
wanting to be alone with his family, the presence of a
stranger superior to Mr. Yates must have been irksome;
but of him, trifling and confident, idle and expensive,
it was every way vexatious.  In himself he was wearisome,
but as the friend of Tom and the admirer of Julia he
became offensive.
 
 

awashburn wrote:
I like the idea of examining Edmund's influence on Fanny.  Because he is seeking to pursue the church, I'm wondering if we are meant to somehow juxtapose him with Mr. and Mrs. Norris.


I didn't get a very strong impression of Mr. Norris as a character at all, so I don't think I could compare him with anyone.  In Austen's work in general, I think there are a lot of clergymen who are more worldly than pious.  They may preach on Sundays, but otherwise they behave much as the other people do.  Edmund is certainly exceedingly moral, which does not in general seem to be a prerequisite for being a clergyman.  But it will make him much more deserving of the career, and hopefully more effective in his congregation.  He seems to get a lot of this from his father, who has similar values; I think that, of the children, Edmund seems most like his father.
 
Dr. Grant is also a clergyman, and he seems to be an agreeable man, although he seems to think about food more than anything else.

 

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nvoggesser
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Re: The Play

As for the acting being inappropriate for the family.....I've gathered from reading many, many books from this period that actors/actresses are thought of much on the level of prostitutes.  I take this conclusion from Wilkie Collins (I believe the novel was No Name where the female upper-class protagonist was ruled to be "illegitamate," ran away and became a stage actress -- she was treated on the level of a prostitute).  Secondly, another modern novel that touches on this subject, and I'm having a TERRIBLE time remembering the title but will edit this if I do remember, also had the female protagonist who was an actress in London and was considered to be not worthy of respect from the "ton."
 
I'm thinking that possibly this period of time is when a shift started to be made in the perceptions of acting.  As the younger generation keeps desiring to try their hand at amateur acting, rebuffed by the older generation, they ultimately over the years have made it acceptable.  That is just theorizing, but seems to me to be the case.

dulcinea3 wrote:


awashburn wrote:
I think you have a point...any encouragement of physical contact would have its consequences.  Also, if you want to stretch the interpretation a little, it would be an unmarried woman playing the part of a married woman...which implies some sort of sexual relationship.
 
As tangential as that sounds...people seemed pretty uptight.
 

Laurel wrote:
Well there goes my theory. Thanks, Dulcinea, for checking that out. Though I guess "mother and son" embraces are still embraces--'A hug is still a hug;/you're right, I'm being smug.'

dulcinea3 wrote:


Laurel wrote:
I think the main objection may have been to having an unmarried pair act like husband and wife. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pair who do so.


I haven't finished the whole play, but I read the first few acts, and it appears that the characters played by Maria and Crawford were mother and son. I was surprised, as I had assumed it was a romantic relationship that they were portraying.
I just found this short synopsis of the play, also indicating who plays which part in the novel:
So Mr. Yates would have ended up with Maria at the end of the play!








Nope, the character of Agatha, although a mother, was unmarried!  I suppose an unmarried mother would suggest sexuality even more than a married one.  And yet, this apparently immoral woman is 'more sinned against than sinner', and so is judged favorably, from what I could make out from what I have read so far.
 
I can see where the subject matter of Lovers' Vows would be a problem for such moral, upstanding people as Edmund and Fanny, but they seemed dead set against the performing of a play before the play itself was selected.  So the selection of the most wholesome play in the world would still apparently have been wrong in their eyes.
 
Actually, I think that Fanny gets most (or all) of her moral views from Edmund, and that she objects just because he does, and because he says that Sir Thomas will disapprove.  Hence, she must be very confused when he changes his mind and convinces himself to participate in the play (due to his infatuation with Miss Crawford, although he is at great pains to insist that it is because he does not want a further outsider brought in to take the part).  Fanny seems to enjoy watching the rehearsals, though.  And even Sir Thomas does not seem particularly upset over their doing a play when he arrives home; when Lady Bertran tells him about it, he simply asks what they are performing (although they don't tell him).  He doesn't seem to object until he sees the alterations they have made to his office and the billiard room, and even then he says that the carpenter has done a good job.  I think another reason he ends up objecting is that he knows something of Mr. Yates, and is not pleased to find him at Mansfield Park as Tom's friend.



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Re: The Play

 

awashburn wrote:
I like the idea of examining Edmund's influence on Fanny.  Because he is seeking to pursue the church, I'm wondering if we are meant to somehow juxtapose him with Mr. and Mrs. Norris.


I didn't get a very strong impression of Mr. Norris as a character at all, so I don't think I could compare him with anyone.  In Austen's work in general, I think there are a lot of clergymen who are more worldly than pious.  They may preach on Sundays, but otherwise they behave much as the other people do.  Edmund is certainly exceedingly moral, which does not in general seem to be a prerequisite for being a clergyman.  But it will make him much more deserving of the career, and hopefully more effective in his congregation.  He seems to get a lot of this from his father, who has similar values; I think that, of the children, Edmund seems most like his father.
 
Dr. Grant is also a clergyman, and he seems to be an agreeable man, although he seems to think about food more than anything else.

 



I think, as opposed to juxtaposing Edmund with the other clergymen in the story, maybe we're supposed to juxtapose his possible choices of a wife with Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Grant.
 
What would be more appropriate for Edmund....a wife like Mary Crawford or a wife like Fanny?
 
We haven't talked much about Mary Crawford in this discussion, but there's something about her I don't quite trust.  She seems to be the consummate actress who becomes the person she feels she should be in the company she is associated with.  Maybe I can't say that completely, however, because we don't ever get a feel for who she is away from the Bertrams. 
 
I recall the trip to Sotherton when they were in the chapel and Mary was going off about clergymen without knowing that Edmund was to take orders.  There was a hint, under her breath, that she would not have said what she had said if she had known how he felt about the subject.  Can this woman be the perfect wife of a clergyman?  Or will she be a bit too much of a busybody like Mrs. Norris?
 
But, is Fanny the perfect person for Edmund?  We know that she has a crush on him, which I don't think even she was aware of until Mary Crawford came around.  Is she growing into the perfect wife of a clergyman?  Or is she still too weak and unconfident?
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Re: The Play

Good post, nvoggesser. I agree that Mary is quite the actress. It seems to me that there are only one or two people in this book who do not spend most of their time acting. Make that three--Lady Bertram certainly cannot be said to ever act.

I think that Mary would be a horrible wife for a clergyman, and I am amazed that Edmund does not see right through her. "Blind, blind, blind, blind!" As for Fanny, she is very young. Let's see who she turns out to be. And whether Edmund is worthy of her.



nvoggesser wrote:

awashburn wrote:
I like the idea of examining Edmund's influence on Fanny. Because he is seeking to pursue the church, I'm wondering if we are meant to somehow juxtapose him with Mr. and Mrs. Norris.


I didn't get a very strong impression of Mr. Norris as a character at all, so I don't think I could compare him with anyone. In Austen's work in general, I think there are a lot of clergymen who are more worldly than pious. They may preach on Sundays, but otherwise they behave much as the other people do. Edmund is certainly exceedingly moral, which does not in general seem to be a prerequisite for being a clergyman. But it will make him much more deserving of the career, and hopefully more effective in his congregation. He seems to get a lot of this from his father, who has similar values; I think that, of the children, Edmund seems most like his father.
Dr. Grant is also a clergyman, and he seems to be an agreeable man, although he seems to think about food more than anything else.



I think, as opposed to juxtaposing Edmund with the other clergymen in the story, maybe we're supposed to juxtapose his possible choices of a wife with Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Grant.
What would be more appropriate for Edmund....a wife like Mary Crawford or a wife like Fanny?
We haven't talked much about Mary Crawford in this discussion, but there's something about her I don't quite trust. She seems to be the consummate actress who becomes the person she feels she should be in the company she is associated with. Maybe I can't say that completely, however, because we don't ever get a feel for who she is away from the Bertrams.
I recall the trip to Sotherton when they were in the chapel and Mary was going off about clergymen without knowing that Edmund was to take orders. There was a hint, under her breath, that she would not have said what she had said if she had known how he felt about the subject. Can this woman be the perfect wife of a clergyman? Or will she be a bit too much of a busybody like Mrs. Norris?
But, is Fanny the perfect person for Edmund? We know that she has a crush on him, which I don't think even she was aware of until Mary Crawford came around. Is she growing into the perfect wife of a clergyman? Or is she still too weak and unconfident?



"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
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Re: Mrs. Norris, cont.

That's a great comment. I agree that Mrs. Norris is trying to hold precariously to a social level higher than her birth, and that she wants to make sure that Fanny doesn't come to compete with her for social standing. I don't think she thought through the consequences of Fanny living in the Bertram house, and is now sorry to see her there as a near adult.

dulcinea3 wrote:
... I think that she (Mrs. Norris) realizes that she is of a lower social class than the Bertrams (of course, by way of marriage), but she is trying to make it seem that she is, in fact, part of their group, in order to appear to be of a higher class herself. This may also explain some of her attitude towards Fanny. Fanny is even lower on the social scale than Mrs. Norris, and therefore reminds her of her own inferiority in respect to the Bertrams. In addition, Fanny has been taken into the Bertram family, and may leapfrog over her into the upper class, so she is especially eager to keep Fanny down.

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Re: The Play

Even in Austen's day, actors and actresses were seen as "fast" and of "loose" morals. To take the role of an actor or actress was contrary to the high moral standards which Sir Thomas sought to teach his family. Sort of like children today putting on a strip tease show in the living room.

dulcinea3 wrote:
I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of the characters towards the idea of a little amateur theatrics. I can understand that Sir Thomas wouldn't want his children to go on the stage professionally, but I don't quite see why it is so scandalous that a house party should want to perform a play, among friends and family. What makes it so different from any other entertainment that they could find for themselves, such as Charades? Both Edmund and Fanny simply recoil at the very idea, and their feelings are borne out when Sir Thomas returns.



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Re: The Play



nvoggesser wrote:
..I recall the trip to Sotherton when they were in the chapel and Mary was going off about clergymen without knowing that Edmund was to take orders. There was a hint, under her breath, that she would not have said what she had said if she had known how he felt about the subject.

This is one of the more delicious scenes in the book -- Austen's sly wit at its best. We know the secret because we know that Edmund is going into the church. So we can watch from the outside while Mary makes a fool of herself and watch her sticking her foot deeper into the mouth while we chortle at how when she learns the truth she will blush at what she had said.

Austen at her best.
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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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