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 return and then explains her thoughts. She finds that Sir Thomas's homecoming is much like the return of heathens from centuries earlier, who returned from battle and offered sacrifices in honor of their victories. Mary is referencing Maria's marriage to Mr. Rushworth because she senses that Maria is not happy with the prospect. In addition, Mary mentions that once Sir Thomas is home, Edmund will take his orders to become a minister.
That is not a sacrificial act, Edmund tells her. He looks forward to becoming a clergyman. He reminds Mary that becoming a minister is his calling. Mary asks if Edmund will make a living from his calling. Will a salary be supplied? Edmund answers in the affirmative, but he declares that has nothing to do with his decision. Mary suggests that becoming a minister is a lazy way to make a salary. She then provides examples of clergymen she has known. She includes her own brother-in-law, Dr. Grant, the minister at Mansfield Park. He is a lazy man, she says. He is slovenly and his only passion is to eat, she tells them. That morning before she left the house, Dr. Grant had been yelling at the servants who had cooked a goose that Dr. Grant claimed did not taste right. He would probably be yelling all day over that incident, Mary says. She had left the parsonage to escape the noise and confusion there.
Edmund argues that Maria's opinions of clergymen is a reflection of someone else's failed conclusions. Fanny says that Dr. Grant should not be used as an example of what clergymen are like. Dr. Grant would possess the same character faults no matter what job he had taken. His laziness is a reflection of who he is, not of his profession.
When Mary walks away to join the Bertram sisters in singing, Edmund appears to ignore Mary's evaluations of his chosen profession and instead blame Mary's shortcomings on the people who raised her.