Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
There are several points that set Mansfield Park apart from the rest of Austen’s work. Chief among them is Austen’s depiction of her heroine, Fanny Price, a frail, quiet young woman who has none of the high spirits or wit of Elizabeth Bennet or Marianne Dashwood. Reared from the age of ten among wealthy relatives, Fanny is an unobtrusive presence in the household at Mansfield Park, useful and agreeable to everyone and steadfast in her secret affection for her cousin, Edmund Bertram.
Fanny’s manner contrasts sharply with the livelier, sometimes careless behavior of her cousins and their friends. Only Edmund spends time with the gentle Fanny, although his own affections have been captivated by the sophisticated Mary Crawford. With Fanny’s uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, away on an extended stay in the West Indies, the cousins and their friends decide to put on an amateur theatrical production of a scandalous French play. Only Fanny refuses to participate, out of natural modesty and a certainty that her absent uncle would not approve. Sir Thomas returns unexpectedly and does not approve, much to his children’s chagrin, but Fanny quickly falls from his favor when she refuses the proposal of Mary Crawford’s brother, Henry, who had begun an unwelcome flirtation with her after Fanny’s cousin Maria married another man.
Distressed by her uncle’s disapproval, Fanny visits her parents and her eight brothers and sisters, only to...
(The entire section is 584 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The three Ward sisters have each fared differently in marriage. One married a wealthy baronet, one married a poor lieutenant of the marines, and the last married a clergyman. The wealthiest of the sisters, Lady Bertram, agrees at the instigation of her clerical sister, Mrs. Norris, to care for one of the unfortunate sister’s nine children. Accordingly, a shy, sensitive, ten-year-old Fanny Price comes to make her home at Mansfield Park. Among her four Bertram cousins Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia—Fanny finds a real friend only in Edmund. The others usually ignore her except when she can be of use to them, but Edmund comforts and advises her. He alone seems to recognize that she possesses cleverness, grace, and a pleasant disposition. Besides Edmund’s attentions, Fanny receives some of a very different kind from her selfish and hypocritical Aunt Norris, who constantly calls unnecessary attention to Fanny’s dependent position.
When Fanny is fifteen years old, Sir Thomas Bertram goes to Antigua to look after some business affairs. His oldest son, who is inclined to extravagance and dissipation, goes with him, and the family is left to Edmund’s and Lady Bertram’s care. During Sir Thomas’s absence, his older daughter, Maria, becomes engaged to Mr. Rushworth, a young man who is rich and well-connected but extremely stupid.
Another event of importance is the arrival in the village of Mary and Henry Crawford, the sister and brother of Mrs. Grant, whose husband has become the rector after the death of Mr. Norris. Both the Bertram girls like Henry immensely; since Maria is engaged, however, he rightfully “belongs” to Julia. They also become close friends with Mary Crawford, who in turn attracts both Tom, now returned from abroad, and Edmund.
Fanny regrets the Crawfords’ arrival, for she sees that Edmund, whom she herself loves, was falling in love with the shallow, worldly Mary, and that her cousin, Maria, is carrying on a most unseemly flirtation with Henry. The less observant, like Mrs. Norris, see only what they wish to see and insist that Henry is paying particular attention to Julia.
At the suggestion of Mr. Yates, a pleasure-loving friend of Tom, the young people decide to put on some private theatricals; they choose for their entertainment the sentimental play Lovers’ Vows (1798) by Elizabeth Inchbald. Fanny opposes the scheme from the start, for she knows Sir Thomas would have disapproved. Edmund tries to dissuade the others but finally lets himself be talked into taking a part because there are not enough men for all the roles. Rehearsals and preparations go forward, and the plan grows more elaborate as it progresses. The unexpected return of Sir Thomas, however, puts an end...
(The entire section is 1123 words.)
Chapter 1 Summary
Mansfield Park, first published in 1814, is Jane Austen's third novel. Although not as popular as either of Austen's two earlier novels, Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park focuses on similar themes, particularly the concept of the implied importance of social rank.
As the novel begins, members of the Bertram family are discussing Fanny Price, who at that time is nine years old. Fanny is the niece of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. Fanny's mother is Lady Bertram's sister, and she is very poor and has many children to care for. The Bertrams have received a letter from Fanny's mother asking if they might take in one or more of her children to give them a chance to better succeed in the world. Sir Thomas is a very rich man, having made his fortune as a landowner. Lady Bertram came from a family of modest finances, but marrying Sir Thomas provided her a step up in society. In contrast, Fanny's mother married a man of no wealth and no social standing.
There is another person involved in the discussion of Fanny Price. This is Mrs. Norris, the second sister of Lady Bertram and therefore also Fanny's aunt. Mrs. Norris is the wife of the clergyman of the parish that serves Mansfield Park. She has not married as well as her sister, Lady Bertram, but she married far better than Fanny's mother. Mrs. Norris is very conscious of social standing. Although she encourages Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram to invite Fanny to live with them, she points out that they must constantly reinforce the idea in Fanny's mind that she is socially inferior to all of the Bertrams.
One other concern of the Bertrams, before they agree to raise Fanny, is that they do not want either of their sons to become infatuated with their cousin. Mrs. Norris assures them that bringing Fanny into the family while the child is still young should allay their fears. Because Fanny is only nine, the Bertrams' sons will regard her merely as a sister and will not be attracted to her as a future wife. Mrs. Norris also thinks that since the Bertrams have live-in playmates (their children) as well as tutors, Fanny would fit in more comfortably with them: Mrs. Norris has no children, and her husband is sickly, she claims.
Word is sent to Mrs. Price that the Bertrams have agreed to raise one of her children, and that child is Fanny. Although Mrs. Price had thought the Bertrams would have chosen one of her sons, she does not hesitate in sending Fanny to the Bertrams' estate at Mansfield Park.
Chapter 2 Summary
Fanny arrives with Mrs. Norris at Mansfield Park. Lord Bertram's children are introduced to Fanny. Tom is the eldest son, at seventeen. He has little to do with Fanny in the following days and months except for occasionally teasing her. Edmund, whose goal in life is to become a clergyman, is sixteen. Of the Bertram's four children, Edmund displays the most interest and kindness toward Fanny. Maria is the elder daughter at thirteen. She and her sister Julia, who is twelve, think Fanny is odd. They cannot believe that Fanny has so few clothes, with none of the dresses she owns being very fancy. They also think that Fanny's looks are very plain. As they come to know her, they constantly report to their parents and their aunt, Mrs. Norris, how stupid Fanny is. Fanny has little knowledge of geography or history. She is not able to speak French. She has no interest in music and does not know the difference between crayons and watercolor paint.
Mrs. Norris tries to explain that Maria and Julia should not be too harsh on Fanny. Instead, they should appreciate their own intelligence and understand that not everyone is as gifted as they are. Fanny's memory, in comparison, Mrs. Norris explains to them, merely does not match theirs.
Fanny, in the meantime, is frightened by her new surroundings. The rooms are too big and too numerous for her to feel comfortable. In addition, Fanny misses her family. At home, she was respected by her siblings, both those who were older and younger than she was. She especially misses her older brother, William. When these feelings of loneliness and homesickness overcome her, Fanny retreats to her bedroom to cry. In the first few weeks, Fanny suffers through copious tears.
One day, Edmund happens to see Fanny sitting at the top of the stairs crying. He tries to comfort her, attempting to understand how much she must miss her family. Although he comprehends that she must be lonesome, he asks why she is...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Fanny is now fifteen years old, and upon the death of Mrs. Norris's husband, Sir Thomas suggests that Fanny should go live with the widow. Sir Thomas thinks that Fanny's presence in his sister-in-law's life would bring the older woman pleasure. Sir Thomas is also going through difficult financial times. So by Fanny's going to live with Mrs. Norris, Sir Thomas's financial burdens would be slightly eased.
Tom, the older Bertram brother, has proven to be a reckless young man. In the process, Tom has squandered much of the Bertram estate, creating massive debts that he expects his father to pay off. Because of this, Tom has also made it financially impossible for Edmund to take over Mrs. Norris's husband's role as parish...
(The entire section is 576 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
While Sir Thomas is away, life at Mansfield Park is altered. Edmund is now the head of the household, and he continues to look out for Fanny, who is now eighteen years old. Edmund, for instance, declares that for her good health, Fanny should go horseback riding each day. Although his sentiment is good natured, Edmund fails to notice that Mrs. Norris discourages this. Mrs. Norris informs Fanny that the number of horses owned by the Bertram family is limited. If Fanny undertakes a daily routine of riding, that would mean either Maria or Julia would be deprived of the exercise.
Fanny gives in and spends most of her days serving both Mrs. Norris and Lady Bertram with errands around the house as well as walking long...
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
The Bertrams and Mary and Henry Crawford soon become friends, sharing frequent dinners and outings. The Bertram sisters are almost as enthralled with Mary Crawford's beauty and personality as the Bertram brothers are. Henry, who at first appears not so handsome to the Bertram sisters, grows in their favor because he is so agreeable.
Because Maria is engaged, everyone assumes that if Henry were to pursue either of the Bertram sisters, it would, of course, be Julia. Julia is aware of this and begins to consider Henry as a man with whom she could fall in love.
Henry, though, is much more interested in Maria, even though she is promised to another man. Mary, Henry's sister, insists that Henry must be kidding....
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
The Bertrams, the Crawfords, and Mr. Rushworth (Maria's fiance) are enjoying a dinner together. It is the first time Mr. Rushworth has come to Manfield Park since Mary Crawford has been there. Mary amuses herself by paying strict attention to Mr. Rushworth, since Tom Bertram is away and she is bored.
Mr. Rushworth is considering the possibilities of relandscaping his sprawling estate, though he wants very little to do with the transformation. He has just returned from a trip to Compton, the manor of a wealthy friend. In comparison to that estate, Mr. Rushworth's property, which is called Sotherton Courts, looks like the grounds of a prison.
As Mr. Rushworth talks, Mrs. Norris adds to the conversation,...
(The entire section is 523 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Edmund asks Fanny what she thinks of Mary. Edmund was a little put off by comments Mary had made the night before. Mary had complained about an uncle, and Edmund thought it was impolite to criticize a family member in such a public gathering. Fanny agrees with him. But when Fanny states that she thinks Mary displayed ingratitude in speaking about her uncle, Edmund corrects Fanny, making Mary's social infraction seem less important than it was.
This makes Fanny realize that she and Edmund might be pursuing different paths. Edmund is much more infatuated with Mary than Fanny is. Edmund also recognizes that he might be falling in love with Mary, though he does not admit this out loud.
The narrative then sheds...
(The entire section is 533 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Plans to visit Mr. Rushworth's estate, Sotherton, are renewed when Mr. Rushworth arrives at Mansfield Park with his mother. Mrs. Rushworth makes a point of encouraging the trip to Sotherton. The plan had been delayed due to Mrs. Rushworth's absence from the manor.
How to travel there and who should go takes up much of the Bertrams' discussion. They decide that Henry should drive, as he had earlier offered his carriage. At the moment, however, Henry is at the home of the clergyman. In order to confirm Henry's availability, Mr. Rushworth volunteers to find him.
While they are waiting, Edmund questions why they cannot travel in their own carriage. His suggestion is denied because Henry's carriage is larger and...
(The entire section is 446 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
A tour of the Rushworths' estate begins with a walk through the mansion. Mrs. Rushworth leads her visitors through various rooms, describes the furnishings and their origins, and discusses the history of the mansion. The tour ends at the family's chapel.
Fanny is disappointed with the chapel, which is very plain and unadorned in comparison to what she had imagined from stories she has read. Fanny lets her disappointment be known. Mrs. Rushworth explains the difference between public chapels, which are often filled with banners and relics, and private family chapels, which are provided for more personal meditations.
Mary Crawford comments somewhat sarcastically that private chapels in mansions such as the...
(The entire section is 536 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Edmund Bertrom and Mary Crawford have left Fanny sitting on a bench in the woods. Fanny was tired and needed to rest. Edmund told her that he and Mary would return in just a few minutes. But an hour later, Fanny has not seen them.
Henry and Maria approach her. Mr. Rushworth is with them. Henry has been making suggestions about how Rushworth might transform his acreage. They notice an iron gate nearby and look beyond it to a knoll. From that small raised hill, Henry suggests, they could gain a better view of the land. But when they attempt to open the gate, they find it is locked.
Rushworth had meant to bring the key with him but had forgotten it back at the house. He volunteers to retrieve it so that they...
(The entire section is 509 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Sir Thomas has sent a letter stating that his business in Antigua is completed and he will be returning home in November, a few months away. The letter causes gloom at Mansfield Park. Maria is saddened by her father's news not merely due to the subsequent presence of her father in the house but also because of what his presence means to her. With her father home, Maria's marriage will soon follow. This thought makes Maria feel disheartened. She wonders if something might pass in the next few months that might alter the direction of her life.
Meanwhile, Mary Crawford, Fanny, and Edmund are standing at a window in the Bertrams' house, staring at the fading light of the day. Mary laughs at the thought of Sir Thomas's...
(The entire section is 457 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
In September, Tom Bertram, the older son, returns home to Mansfield Park. He has been away with friends, spending much of his time partying. He entertains the other people staying at his home by telling them of his adventures.
Mary's affections for Tom have changed. In his absence, Mary has become more attracted to Tom's younger brother, Edmund. Tom also shows a loss of interest in Mary.
Around the same time that Tom returns, Henry Crawford decides to travel. He goes to Norfolk, and this makes both Maria and Julia upset. They think him selfish to leave them. However, Henry comes back to Mansfield Park earlier than expected, which, of course, pleases the Bertram girls, who forgive him immediately. Fanny...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
John Yates, an acquaintance of Tom Bertram, is introduced in the narrative. Yates loves acting and was about to be in a play. But three days before the performance, the grandmother of one of the actor's died, so the play was cancelled. When Yates remembers that Tom had invited him to stay at Mansfield Park for a while, he hurries over to the estate. Upon greeting Tom, Yates talks up the idea of putting on a play there.
Tom is excited and talks about the possibilities to his brother and sisters. Yates, Tom announces, would be the manager. It would be a small performance, just for the group of them. There would be no audience and no publicity. As Tom wanders through the manor, he searches for a place to stage the play....
(The entire section is 462 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
The physical preparations for the play have begun. A carpenter has been summoned to make adjustments in the room. Mrs. Norris has ordered material for the stage curtain. Upon its arrival, she supervises the sewing of it. All the while, though, no play has yet been selected.
Tom Bertram and Mary Crawford argue in favor of a comedy. The others prefer a tragedy. They go through a list of Shakespearean dramas, but all are rejected for one reason or another. The women insist on the play having three strong female roles and will accept no less. Most of them agree that the play should have only a few characters. When they come upon a comedy, the play is rejected because it is too silly. When they read tragedies, they...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Mr. Rushworth shows up at Mansfield Park and decides to become a part of the play. He asks Maria to help him chose a part. Maria looks over the list of characters and selects a role that is not too demanding. She also decides that she will delete many of the lines Rushworth has to recite because the less he has to learn, the better.
Edmund is still very upset about his family and friends going forward with their plans to do the play. He appeals to his sister Maria. The role she has chosen is too crass, and he does not want to see her act it out. He asks her to read the script so that she is better acquainted with it. Marie responds that she is very familiar with the role she has chosen and sees no problem in acting it....
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Fanny goes to her bedroom quite upset about Mrs. Norris's comments to her. She dreads the next morning and having to face the Bertrams with the possibility that neither Mary nor Edmund will be there to defend her.
Her bed is in the small, cramped attic room, where she has slept since she first arrived at Mansfield Park. Over the years, though, she has gradually moved some of her things into the room one floor beneath her bedroom. The lower room is more spacious. It had been used when her cousins were children, but was later abandoned. So Fanny has slowly taken it over.
In the bigger room, she has collected books and furniture discarded by the rest of the family. She has plants that she cares for and a desk...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
Tom and Maria secretly celebrate their success. Tom is glad that Edmund has consented to take a part in the play. He is also somewhat content to find that Edmund has lowered his high standards, going against his own dictates and concerns about the morality of the play.
Maria's victory is that she has won the leading role as well as the approval of Henry. Henry has chosen her over her sister Julia she is sure.
Tom suggests to Edmund that now that he has joined them, Fanny might also change her mind. Fanny is afraid that she might be forced to take the role, but Mrs. Grant has stepped in. She will take on the part that Fanny was to play.
In a way, Fanny is a little jealous. Everyone praises Mrs....
(The entire section is 446 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
Relationships and tempers are straining as the day of the first rehearsals arrives. More money than had been appropriated is spent as painters are called into service to paint backgrounds for scenes. In his exuberance, Tom invites neighbors to sit in the audience, a scheme no one has approved.
Fanny's major part in the preparations is to listen to everyone's complaints. Mr. Rushworth cannot remember his lines, so Fanny tries to provide him with measures to improve his memory. Nothing seems to help. Fanny has to continually prompt him. Not one of the actors wants to practice with him.
Tom, who has taken on an assortment of minor characters, is losing his patience and speaks his lines too fast. Some people...
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Sir Thomas surprises everyone with his premature return to Mansfield Park. No one is sure of how Sir Thomas will react to what they have been doing.
Once they compose themselves, Tom, Edmund, Maria, Julia, Lady Bertram, and Mrs. Norris all move toward the drawing room to greet Sir Thomas. With the Bertrams gone, Mr. Rushworth continually asks if he should go into the drawing room too. He is immobilized until Henry Crawford tells him that he should indeed join the rest of the family.
The Crawfords then decide to leave, telling Yates that he is welcome to go with them to their home. Yates, not knowing Sir Thomas's nature, does not see why he should have to leave. He is so engrossed in the play, Yates expects...
(The entire section is 520 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
The next morning, Edmund makes a point of going to see his father and explaining his involvement in the play. He tells his father that he was at first against it, but under the circumstances of involving a stranger, he chose the best way to control the situation, which was to become more involved. Edmund insists that the only person—throughout all the discussions of putting on a play—who was against the idea was Fanny. Fanny was the only one who understood how the production might offend him.
Sir Thomas does not want to spend any time or energy in reprimanding his children. The play would not go on, and that would be the end of it. Carpenters arrive to dismantle the stage and put Sir Thomas's room back in order. The...
(The entire section is 561 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
Sir Thomas has cast a sombre gloom over the household. He wants to entertain no outsiders, not even the Grants, though they are an important part of Mansfield Park. Only the Rushworths are now welcome, as far as Sir Thomas is concerned. That is his final word.
Edmund complains to Fanny that the family is so serious now. Fanny reminds Edmund that nothing has really changed. Sir Thomas's appearance in the household has always caused a quiet mood. It is only that his absence was so extended that his return stands out in such contrast. Edmund teases Fanny, saying that she likes his father because Sir Thomas likes to flatter her. His father thinks Fanny is pretty, Edmund says. And rightly so, Edmund adds. Fanny is growing up...
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
With Maria on her honeymoon and Julia gone to join her, Fanny finds herself the only young female at Mansfield Park. This condition has given her more attention than she has ever experienced in her life. Not only is she called upon to do chores, she is also required to act as a companion. This includes requests by Mary Crawford.
Fanny visits the parsonage more frequently now, and though their personalities and favorite topics differ, she spends hours in Mary's company. Sometimes Fanny just sits and listens to Mary play the harp. Often they walk through the gardens as they talk. Fanny admits that she does not love Mary, but she is amused by the woman. For her part, Mary enjoys Fanny through her constant desire to...
(The entire section is 499 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
Mrs. Grant has invited Fanny to dinner, but Lady Bertram cannot understand why. Is it merely due to the absence of Maria and Julia? Why would anyone want Fanny to sit at their table, she wonders. Lady Bertram tells Fanny that maybe she should not go.
Edmund overhears his mother's comments and is surprised by her sentiments. Why should Fanny not go, Edmund wants to know. His mother asks what she would do without Fanny. Who will take care of her? Edmund tells her that his father will be home. When Lady Bertram continues to resist the idea of Fanny being away for dinner, Edmund suggests that his mother should consult his father to get his thoughts on the matter.
Lady Bertram approaches her husband as soon as he...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
Henry makes a statement to his sister, Mary, that his main focus for the duration of his stay at Mansfield Park is to make Fanny fall in love with him.
Mary is thrown off guard by Henry's bold assertion. Henry should be pursuing Julia Bertram, not Fanny. The only reason Henry is interested in Fanny at all, Mary tells him, is because Fanny is the only young female left at Mansfield Park.
Henry disagrees. Fanny, he says, is the only woman he has ever met whom he cannot quite figure out. He cannot tell what she is thinking or why she uses certain facial expressions that are impossible for him to interpret. The other attraction that Fanny holds for Henry is that she seems not to like him. This is a unique...
(The entire section is 511 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Sir Thomas relents and accepts an invitation to dinner at Dr. and Mrs. Grant's parsonage. Previously, Sir Thomas had been too distracted by his dwindling finances to consider social gatherings. Because his business affairs in Antigua have become more stable after his visit there, Sir Thomas has more time to think of social interactions.
At the Grants' home, Henry has insisted on sitting next to Fanny and continues to lavish most of his attention on her. This is not missed by Edmund nor by Sir Thomas, who has become aware of Henry as a potential suitor for his niece.
After dinner, the group sits down to play cards. As Henry advises both Lady Bertram and Fanny on which cards to play to their advantage, he...
(The entire section is 482 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
After overhearing William talk about dancing and asking if Fanny had ever been to a ball, Sir Thomas puts a lot of thought into seeing Fanny dance for himself. He decides that she deserves to attend a ball. But where was a ball to be held? William would be leaving soon, so arrangements would have to be made before his departure. Sir Thomas quickly decides to assemble a ball at Mansfield Park.
After mild complaints by Mrs. Norris, who disagrees with having a ball at Mansfield Park without the Bertram girls, the invitations are sent. Mrs. Norris soon reverses her position and decides to claim the honor of seeing to all the arrangements. This would keep her busy, and in the end, she could take all the credit for the...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
Edmund is waiting in Fanny's special room when she returns home. Fanny is surprised to find him sitting at her writing desk, pen in hand. Edmund tells Fanny that he was writing a letter to her. He stands and gives her a small package and tells her to open it. Inside, Fanny finds a gold chain.
It is for her cross, Edmund says. At first Fanny does not know what to do. Mary had just given her the other gold chain, the one that Henry had bought for his sister. Fanny would much rather wear Edmund's chain. Her feelings for him are so much stronger than for Mary or Henry. She tells Edmund the story of how she acquired the other chain. Then she says she must give the other chain back to Mary, but Edmund will not hear of...
(The entire section is 537 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
Fanny comes downstairs, dressed for the ball. Sir Thomas comments on how pretty she looks but does not press the subject until Fanny leaves the room. After she is gone, he continues to talk of Fanny to his wife and Mrs. Norris. It is obvious that Sir Thomas is very proud of how well Fanny has grown up.
Mrs. Norris takes the opportunity to give herself and Sir Thomas credit for everything about Fanny that is positive. Fanny's beauty and fine manner are due to the advantage that Mrs. Norris and Sir Thomas have provided, she says.
As Fanny walks out of the room, she meets Edmund, who insists that she save two dances for him. As guests arrive, Fanny is thus in a good mood. However, she has been given no...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
Mansfield Park is very quiet the day after the ball. William and Henry have left for the city, and Edmund is visiting friends. The absence of her brother makes Fanny sad. She berates herself for not having spent more time with William while he was there. When she reflects on his visit, she finds missed opportunities to be with him that she should have taken better advantage of. As she sits in the drawing room with Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, she compares how much brighter the room had seemed the night before at the height of the excitement of the ball.
By the second day, Fanny begins to adjust to the return of a normal routine. She listens to Sir Thomas talk about William and is delighted when he compliments her...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
Mary is delighted when her brother Henry returns to Mansfield Park. She hopes to find out the reason he had left. Before she can get an answer, Henry excuses himself from her company and goes to visit the Bertrams. When he is gone more than an hour, Mary is astonished. What could he be doing there?
Henry does not keep Mary waiting too long for an answer. Upon returning to the parsonage, Henry has nothing to do but talk of Fanny. He describes how beautiful Fanny is looking and finally confesses to Mary that he is determined to marry Fanny.
At first, Mary is bewildered. The thought of her brother marrying Fanny had never crossed her mind. She had known that he was attracted to Fanny, and she had warned him not...
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary
The next morning, Henry wastes no time in going to the Bertrams’ residence even though it is too early by social standards. He has important news to convey. He has three letters in his hand and gives them to Fanny.
The first letter is from Henry’s uncle, the admiral, telling him that Fanny’s brother William has been promoted to lieutenant. The other two letters are copies of correspondence between Henry’s uncle and other officials, demonstrating how William’s promotion had been processed. As Fanny reads the letters, Henry tells her that the only reason for his having visited London was to further William’s promotion. He adds that he stayed away from her only as long as he could stand. He had wanted to wait...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
Chapter 32 Summary
Sir Thomas comes to Fannie’s room. The first thing he notices is that Fanny’s room is without a fire, though there is snow on the ground outside. When he asks why this is so, Fanny tells him there has never been one since she has been there. Sir Thomas cannot believe this to be true. Certainly it is an oversight. When Fanny insinuates that it has been Mrs. Norris’s doing, Sir Thomas stops her. He defends Mrs. Norris, stating that he knows she is harsh but that it has all been for Fanny’s benefit. Mrs. Norris’s intent has always been to best prepare Fanny for the world.
After this brief discussion, Sir Thomas tells Fanny that Henry Crawford has asked for Fanny’s hand in marriage. He thinks he is delivering...
(The entire section is 532 words.)
Chapter 33 Summary
Fanny and Henry meet several times, and their conversations continue on the same matter. Henry insists that he loves Fanny, while Fanny insists she cannot and should not ever love him. Henry does not take her seriously and assumes that Fanny has no understanding of her own feelings. He thinks that his sudden proposal has merely shocked her into a state of confusion. He cannot imagine that the does not love him. Even if she does not love him, she at least should feel gratitude toward him for securing the promotion for her brother. He has never had any challenge in wooing other women, and does not understand why Fanny should give him so much trouble.
Although Fanny does not give in, her nature is so agreeable and gentle...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
Chapter 34 Summary
Edmund returns to Mansfield Park. Upon his arrival, he meets Mary and Henry. To his surprise, Mary is extremely cordial to him, which pleases him more than he could have imagined. He had stayed away, had extended his visit, in order to come home and find Mary gone. When last they had been together, they had not enjoyed one another's company. Edmund thought this meant that their relationship was over, but now his hopes are renewed.
When Edmund has time to talk to his family, he is overjoyed to hear that Fanny’s brother William has been appointed a lieutenant. But when his father tells him about Fanny and her rejection of Henry Crawford’s proposal of marriage, Edmund experiences another type of surprise. He does not...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Chapter 35 Summary
Edmund insists that Fanny walk with him around the grounds of Mansfield Park so that they can talk. He begins by telling her that he would never suggest that she marry for anything less than love. This lightens Fanny’s heart. She had been thinking Edmund was as disappointed in her as Sir Thomas is, but Edmund is not content to leave the subject of Henry alone. He talks of Henry’s merits and believes that in time Fanny will see them too. Fanny insists that no matter what Henry does, he will never win her heart.
At this, Edmund is a little saddened. He says she does not sound like the Fanny he once knew. She sounds irrational, whereas the Fanny he knows is open minded and clear thinking. Edmund says if he had been...
(The entire section is 527 words.)
Chapter 36 Summary
The day before Henry and Mary Crawford are to leave Mansfield Park to travel to London, Mary stops by to talk to Fanny. When they are alone, Fanny fears the scolding she anticipates from Mary. The two young women enter the East Room, where a fire has kept the room warm. Once Fanny opens the door, Mary recalls the only other time she has been in this room.
She asks if Fanny remembers the day they had come here to rehearse for the play they were planning. Mary had wanted to read her lines with Fanny reciting the role opposite her. Then Edmund appeared in the room. This was a time, Mary recalls, when her relationship with Edmund was just budding and there were no arguments between them. They were to act the roles of two...
(The entire section is 486 words.)
Chapter 37 Summary
Fanny’s brother William comes for a visit to Mansfield Park. It is the first time he has seen his sister since his promotion. He longs to wear his uniform to show it off, but unfortunately, according to navy regulations, this is disallowed because he will be off duty. William suggests that he take Fanny back to Portsmouth, the town where they were born, to visit their family. There he can speak to her more openly and describe all his feelings about his new rank.
Sir Thomas, who has still been scheming to make Fanny see the worth of Henry Crawford’s proposal, agrees with William’s plan. If Fanny were to spend two months at her family’s abode, she might reconcile her thoughts. She would be forced to live in the...
(The entire section is 493 words.)
Chapter 38 Summary
Fanny enjoys the long traveling hours she spends with William. Without any of the adults of Mansfield Park with them, they relate stories to one another without censorship.
During a quiet moment, Fanny thinks about Edmund. She recalls letters she received from Mary before she left. Mary’s writing was often interspersed with notes from Henry, which made Fanny feel uncomfortable. Another discomfort came from Mary’s comments about how much she missed Mansfield Park and the people who lived there, which made Fanny feel obliged to read aloud all of Mary’s letters to Edmund. Fanny hopes Mary’s correspondence will cease now that she is gone. She suspects that Mary only wrote to her so that Fanny would relay her...
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Chapter 39 Summary
Fanny refrains from writing letters back to Mansfield for fear of expressing too much of her sorrows. The first week in Portsmouth has ended with nothing but disappointment. William had to leave sooner than either of them had thought. There was no time left for long walks or an inspection of his ship, which he had promised.
With William gone, Fanny has no distractions from the noisy confusion that makes up her family’s home. Everything about her visit so far has failed except for the affection she felt from William. Before William left, he told his mother to look after Fanny, that she was not used to the tumult their large family causes. But William might as well have said this to the sea because no one paid his...
(The entire section is 464 words.)
Chapter 40 Summary
Fanny’s misery continues. She misses her life at Mansfield Park so much that she rejoices when she receives a letter from Mary. As Fanny had presumed, Mary’s letters decreased in frequency after Fanny left Edmund’s presence. But now, after many weeks in Portsmouth, even a letter from Mary eases Fanny’s mind from the tedium and frustration of her stay with her family. Mary’s letter, more than Fanny had realized before, provides her with a sense of affection and elegance that is much absent from her family’s home.
In her letter, Mary tells of having met with Maria and Julia, who were visiting London. At the mention of Fanny’s name, Maria’s expression became very harsh, which suggests that the older Bertram...
(The entire section is 452 words.)
Chapter 41 Summary
Fanny has been in Portsmouth for almost a month when one day she hears a knock on her parents’ door. Henry Crawford has come to visit. Fanny is embarrassed that he is there—both because she does not wish Henry to see the state of her family home and because she does not want her family to meet Henry. She cannot make eye contact with Henry for the first few minutes. Fanny feels that if she does, she will surely faint.
Henry is extremely cordial with Mrs. Price; he asks about her and listens intently. Their conversation lasts long enough for Fanny to catch her breath before Henry actually looks at her. Then Henry suggests they all take a walk, hoping to find an opportunity to talk to Fanny alone. Mrs. Price cannot...
(The entire section is 509 words.)
Chapter 42 Summary
The next morning as Fanny and her family are preparing to go to church, Henry shows up at their door. He is prepared to attend church with them. Although Fanny is not glad to see him, she is pleased that Henry should see her family on a Sunday: on this and only this day each week, her family is washed and dressed in their best clothes. Once outside the confines of the small house, the children are also on their best behavior.
Fanny observes her mother and again compares her to her two sisters at Mansfield Park. The years and stress have not been good to her mother. Although she resembles Lady Bertram in looks and temperament, years of childbirth and poor nutrition have worn down Fanny’s mother. The lack of money makes...
(The entire section is 456 words.)
Chapter 43 Summary
Fanny receives a letter from Mary, who relates Henry’s happiness in seeing Fanny. It is obvious that Henry has told his sister everything of his visit and how anxious he is to return. Mary writes that Henry might go to Portsmouth in a few days; the only thing holding him back is a party Mary is giving. She mentions other parties, such as the one given by Maria, which Mary writes was a success. Maria looked well in all her finery and was very content in her new lavish manor in London.
Mary’s letter also includes vague references to Edmund. Fanny reads the letter several times to gather the information Mary has inferred. In the end, Fanny assumes that Edmund has not yet asked for Mary’s hand. Fanny is disgusted that...
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Chapter 44 Summary
Edmund writes a long letter to Fanny. It is the first she has received from him. He apologizes for having taken so long. He explains that during all the time he was in London, he was too sad to write and share his feelings. The source of his sadness lies in Mary. Edmund says Mary is such a different person in London. She comes under the influence of her female friends who are not good for her. They corrupt her, bringing out all her weaknesses of character. Her friends are mercenary; they seek more and more wealth and do not marry for love. They lead Mary astray.
When Mary is at Mansfield Park and in Fanny’s company, she is more empathetic and loving. This is the woman Edmund loves, he tells Fanny. He could never hope...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Chapter 45 Summary
Fanny receives another letter from Lady Bertram, which tells her that Tom is getting better. The fever has broken, though he is still in bed. Lady Bertram is relieved that Tom will soon be himself again.
Fanny relaxes with this news until she receives a letter from Edmund. Although Tom’s fever has broken, the doctor worries that Tom’s lungs have suffered and may never recover. Edmund and his father are not communicating this information to Lady Bertram because they fear for her well-being. Edmund also tells Fanny that he has decided not to write to propose to Mary, and he will postpone his visit to London until Tom is stronger.
Easter has come and gone, and still Fanny has not received a letter from Sir...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 46 Summary
Fanny anticipates a letter from Mary. Fanny refused Mary’s offer of taking her back to Mansfield Park but hopes Mary will have sought Sir Thomas’s consent to do so. When the letter arrives, there is no such message. Instead, Mary mysteriously tells Fanny that the rumors about Henry should be disregarded. Henry is blameless. She is not to believe anything she hears because all will eventually be proven wrong.
No rumors had reached Fanny, so she is confused by Mary’s letter. Mary had mentioned Maria’s name and written something about the Rushworths having gone to Mansfield Park. Fanny cannot figure out what about those three people would make her worry. She cared little about Maria and Mr. Rushworth, and her...
(The entire section is 503 words.)
Chapter 47 Summary
Everyone at Mansfield Park is distracted by the recent events, and no one is more distracted than is Mrs. Norris. Maria had been her favorite child; she had encouraged Maria’s marriage to Mr. Rushworth. With Maria’s recent disgrace, Mrs. Norris finds her authority at Mansfield Park has been diminished. With the return of Fanny and her sister, whom Lady Bertram warmly welcomes, Mrs. Norris feels as if she has been pushed out of the home.
With Fanny’s attention devoted to Lady Bertram, Susan is left to adjust to her new surroundings on her own. She uses the time to familiarize herself with the house and the grounds. She is thankful to have this time to herself because she must work to rid herself of the more vulgar...
(The entire section is 572 words.)
Chapter 48 Summary
The final chapter sums up the consequences of the characters’ actions throughout the story.
Sir Thomas laments that he has not properly raised his children, particularly Tom, Maria, and Julia. He allowed Mrs. Norris too much influence with his offspring. She spoiled them and made them think more of themselves than other people.
Since his suffering through a fever and illness, Tom has come to new understandings about life. Prior to his ill health, he lived frivolously. Since his physical struggles, his thinking has become clearer, and he is more helpful and useful to his father.
Sir Thomas hopes Julia still has a chance. This might be a result of Mrs. Norris’s favoritism toward Maria; Julia...
(The entire section is 512 words.)