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.
Edmund disagrees with her. He tells her that if she stands up for what is morally right, others will follow her. If she refuses to be a part of the presentation, others will also drop out of the play. Maria, however, finds nothing objectionable about the role. She tells Edmund that she knows he means well, but the two see things differently. Besides, she adds, if she gives up her part, she knows that Julia will gladly take it over.
Edmund states that he thinks Maria should rethink her decision. He does not think their father would approve. At this, Lady Bertram agrees. However, Mrs. Norris reinforces Maria's reluctance to quit the play. Mrs. Norris lists all the work she has done to ensure that the play might be a success. She also lists the money that has been spent on the curtains she had made. She takes advantage of the attention focused on her and adds a side note: she caught the young son of one of the workers on the mansion picking up scraps of wood from the construction of the stage. She is proud that she has so much concern about the welfare of the family.
Tom, Maria, Yates, and Henry sit at a table to the side, discussing who should play the parts that are still not taken. Tom asks Edmund to take a role, but again Edmund refuses. Then he asks Fanny. Fanny insists she cannot act, but Tom says she must help them. When Fanny refuses, Mrs. Norris reprimands Fanny. She tells Fanny that she is ungrateful and should be more considerate, especially since she holds a lower position in the family.
Fanny begins to quietly cry, and Mary Crawford goes to her side to console her.