Books: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Chapters 17–24)

We're now roughly halfway through the book (there are 48 chapters; I checked, not because I was bored and wanting to be done, only because I was curious and wondering whether 8-chapter increments would come out even).

The amateur theatricals had to be given up because Sir Thomas came home. The personal dramas continue.

Maria went ahead and married Rushworth out of a kind of spite when Mr Crawford decamped. Julia went with the Rushworths on their honeymoon. That sounds weird to modern-day readers, but based on what I've read from that era, it wasn't so uncommon. An older, well-situated sister might be able to give a younger sibling a hand up in society, help her find a suitable marriage. Not that Julia couldn't have done—the Bertrams are not low—but it must be nice for her to have a wider field to hunt. So to speak.

Tom has gone off, too, which leaves Fanny and Edmund at home. Fanny accidentally becomes a sort of friend to Miss Crawford, thus facilitating that young lady's and Edmund's connection. Poor Fanny! Caught between enjoying society (even in small scope) for the first time and having to watch Edmund and Miss Crawford work at one another! But I think Fanny would say it's better to know than not know. She'd rather see for herself and judge what their feelings might be than sit at home and wonder what Edmund and Miss Crawford might be saying to or doing with one another.

As for Edmund and Miss Crawford, well, as Edmund comes closer to taking orders (he means to be a clergyman), Miss Crawford becomes increasingly irritated with him. She does not want to marry a clergyman, but she does want to marry Edmund. It cannot be much of a love that can be dictated to by something like income and profession, can it?

And then Mr Crawford returns and decides to take a run at Fanny. Just for a lark. Because she's such a hard nut to crack and unlike her cousins seems indifferent if not averse to him entirely.

But! All Fanny's attention is soon taken up with the fact her beloved brother William, a midshipman, has returned to England and been given leave to visit at Mansfield. And her animation, her show of feeling, captivates Mr Crawford. Now he's sure he must win Fanny over, and he uses kindnesses toward William to do it.

And there's where things stand for the moment.

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