Jane Austen, Mansfield Park: Ch. 5

[+] | [-] | reset
 

"Mary, how shall we manage him?"

"We must leave him to himself, I believe. Talking does no good. He will be taken in at last."

"But I would not have him taken in; I would not have him duped; I would have it all fair and honourable."

"Oh dear! let him stand his chance and be taken in. It will do just as well. Everybody is taken in at some period or other."

"Not always in marriage, dear Mary."

"In marriage especially. With all due respect to such of the present company as chance to be married, my dear Mrs. Grant, there is not one in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves."

"Ah! You have been in a bad school for matrimony, in Hill Street."

"My poor aunt had certainly little cause to love the state; but, however, speaking from my own observation, it is a manoeuvring businessd. I know so many who have married in the full expectation and confidence of some one particular advantage in the connexion, or accomplishment, or good quality in the person, who have found themselves entirely deceived, and been obliged to put up with exactly the reverse. What is this but a take in?"

"My dear child, there must be a little imaginationh here. I beg your pardon, but I cannot quite believe you. Depend upon it, you see but half. You see the evil, but you do not see the consolation. There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere—and those evil-minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves."

"Well done, sister! I honour your esprit du corpsw. When I am a wife, I mean to be just as staunch myself; and I wish my friends in general would be so too. It would save me many a heartache."

"You are as bad as your brother, Mary; but we will cure you both. Mansfield shall cure you both, and without any taking in. Stay with us, and we will cure you."

The Crawfords, without wanting to be cured, were very willing to stay. Mary was satisfied with the Parsonage as a present home, and Henry equally ready to lengthen his visit. He had come, intending to spend only a few days with them; but Mansfield promised well, and there was nothing to call him elsewhere. It delighted Mrs. Grant to keep them both with her, and Dr. Grant was exceedingly well contented to have it so: a talking pretty young woman like Miss Crawford is always pleasant society to an indolent, stay-at-home man; and Mr. Crawford's being his guest was an excuse for drinking claretw every day.

The Miss Bertrams' admiration of Mr. Crawford was more rapturous than anything which Miss Crawford's habits made her likely to feel. She acknowledged, however, that the Mr. Bertrams were very fine young men, that two such young men were not often seen together even in London, and that their manners, particularly those of the eldest, were very good. He had been much in London, and had more liveliness and gallantry than Edmund, and must, therefore, be preferred; and, indeed, his being the eldest was another strong claim. She had felt an early presentiment that she should like the eldest best. She knew it was her way.

X [d] it is a manoeuvring business

Love & Marriage

As in "tactical," always seeking to gain an advantage and cut losses. Austen supports Mary's view, for the society does overvalue money and undervalue affection. 

The cynicism of a young woman who is intending to marry someday so troubles Mrs. Grant that she hopes to cure Mary of it. Yet the reader has no difficulty imagining that the example of her own marriage subverts her effort. 

X [h] imagination

Manners & Morals

Imagination beyond Mary's personal experience.

Mrs. Grant voices a recurrent Austen motif: we must adapt to conditions, and if one thing does not yield happiness or is out of reach, then, if we are to find ease of mind, we must recalibrate our desires to fit our conditions. Her husband, the Doctor of Divinity, lacks her sense and charm and is quite content to find his pleasure in food and drink. While not a dysfunctional marriage, it is an unequal one.…

(read more)

X [w] esprit du corps

Esprit alone means wit or liveliness, as in spirited, which applies perfectly to Mary. The phrase, though, means the spirit or active principle of a group or organization, expressed as loyalty. Mary is sardonically praising Mrs. Grant's necessarily energetic loyalty to her unworthy husband.…

(read more)

X [w] claret

Daily Life

Originally a dark rosé wine from Bordeaux.