by fixing on a lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions

Category: Love & Marriage | Type: Discussion | Title: Mansfield Park (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter I

This sister "disoblige[s]" her family, an echo of Mrs. Norris's being "obliged."

There is a profounder echo in that this marriage, like that of Sir Thomas to the beautiful Miss Maria Ward, originates essentially in physical attraction. Nothing else can explain the appeal to a country attorney's young daughter of a man (in uniform, yes, but of low rank) who lacks education, fortune, and connections.

She has in fact been so disobliging as to make no use of the powerful connections at the disposal of her baronet brother ("in-law" was not used). The lieutenant's reasons for marrying her may involve her beauty but he also has some additional prospects: she's well above him in class, her sister has married a wealthy baronet, and there was surely the prospect of a dowry that might have enabled him to buy himself a captaincy. 

Austen's way of writing is at times discreetly elliptical, leaving the reader to fill in what are not finally obscure blanks. Eros plays a large role in life and in this novel.

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