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 find that they do not have enough people to carry out all the characters.
Tom complains that they are wasting too much time. He says that in order to find a play, they must stop being so nice or so particular. He says he will lead the way. He will take any role they give him as long as the play is a comedy. The character they give him can have a minor part. He no longer cares.
Then Tom comes up with the idea to do Lover's Vows. The play has both comedic and tragic aspects. Since everyone is tired of their indecision, they give in. Yates is very pleased with their choosing Lover's Vows as it is the exact play that he had been rehearsing with his other group of friends. Yates knows all the parts by heart.
After finally coming to an agreement, the group then falls into disarray as they argue about which part each will take. Most of the discussion centers on the female roles.
Henry suggests that Maria do the part of Agatha. Julia, Henry says, is too lighthearted and the role of Agatha is very dramatic. Julia feels slighted by Henry's assessment and stares hard at her sister. Maria looks very pleased. Tom then says that Julia should take a more minor role, by which Julia is even more insulted. She walks out of the room when she sees that her sister is very pleased with the men's assumption that she is perfect for the starring female role. However, Maria does not want to appear too haughty, so she proclaims that she is not sure that she will be able to do justice to the role. Maria does admit that she would do it better than her sister.
Fanny, as usual, is in the background of all the activity. As the others squabble about roles, she makes herself busy by reading the script. She has never seen a play and looks forward to the performance. But when she reads the dialogue for the women, she is surprised to find it rather vulgar.